EducationBackwell Comprehensive School, University of Cardiff, University of Bristol
QualificationsGCSEs, A-levels, A-levels, BSc, PhD
Work HistoryUniversity of Bristol as a scientist, and before that lots of places whilst studying e.g., cleaning, bar work, caterer in a hospital
Current JobPost-Doctoral Research Associate
My Work: I am interested in how and why the body releases the hormone cortisol when we are stressed and what this does to the body
- Interest: I am interested in how the body understands signals from hormones. e.g., how does the body listen to the female hormone oestrogen? And how does this lead to the development of the adult female body (secondary sex characteristics)?
- Background: Hormones typically bind to proteins called receptors. Receptors are found on or inside cells. It is the binding of the hormone to these receptors changes the behaviour of the cell.
- I started my career studying oestrogen receptors, and I was particularly interested in a newly discovered oestrogen receptor (GPER), that works very differently to traditional oestrogen receptors.
- I now work on the adrenal gland, trying to fully understand how, in response to stress, the body listens the hormone ACTH from the pituitary to cause the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) from the adrenal gland.
My Typical Day: You'll probably find me in the laboratory messing around with adrenal cells.
Depends on what I am doing.
Laboratory: My experiments are very varied. It will be anything from:
- Culturing adrenal cells (feeding them and making them happy)
- Stimulating the adrenal cells with ACTH to stimulate the release of cortisol.
- Using an exciting new optogentics technique to activate the adrenal cells with light (instead of ACTH) and stimulate the release of cortisol.
- Measure the amount of DNA, RNA, protein in the cells.
- Some experiments are very quick, and others are long…. I used to find experiments stressful, but the more I have done over the years, the more confident I have become and the less stressful and more fun they become! I love working in the lab as I can use my hands, potter around and am quite busy. Which makes me happy!
Here’s a typical experiment day:
- 9 am, set up my experiments.
- 10:30 am, tea-time with colleagues.
- 11:00 am, back on with experiments.
- 12:30 pm, I am hungry, so eat my lunch and then will do a bit of desk work or might pop out side to a walk around with friends.
- 1/1:15 pm, get on with my experiments…
- 5:30/6 pm home-time
Writing: If I have to write a scientific article of read other scientific articles I will be sat at my desk. Sometimes I work from home so I can sit and think without too many distractions.
- Sometimes I will be teaching students and other members of staff in the laboratory.
- I give a lecture on sex differences in hormone systems.
- I run tutorials to help medical students understand hormones and hormone tests.
- I give talks to schools about what it is like to be a scientist. Or teach them about my work.
- I also go to conferences to learn about other scientists work, and teach them about my own.
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Train and help other really cool scientists.