Matthew Arnold Secondary School and Sixth Form near Oxford
University of York
Matthew Arnold School:
GCSEs in English, Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geography, Spanish, Music, Textiles
AS Level in Physics
A Levels in Chemistry, Biology, Maths
University of York:
Integrated Masters Degree in Biological and Medicinal Chemistry (MChem)
Lab Technicians Assistant at my Secondary School (I washed glassware during free periods)
Waitressing during university holidays
Student Ambassador at University (I help with outreach events and school visits)
Second Year PhD Student
York Structural Biology Laboratories, University of York (I am funded by the Department of Chemistry and Pfizer)
I am a PhD Student at the University of York. I grow crystals and find ways to make green medicines. Feel free to ask me anything!!
I live in York in a bungalow by the River Ouse. I own 11 and a half plants (the half plant is a baby spider plant still attached to its parent!)
And when I am not doing science I love doing yoga, playing the piano and sewing. I recently made my first quilt (I am very proud of myself!!).
My pronouns are she/her.
I am a Structural Biologist. I find green ways of making medicines by using enzymes.
I am a Structural Biologist and the University of York. I engineer enzymes by changing parts of their structure to make them better at their job. I find out information about the enzymes by growing crystals.
These are sent to the Diamond Lightsource in Oxford where they shoot high energy X-rays at them to get information called a diffraction pattern. I then build structures of the enzyme from this information.
The engineered enzymes can then be used to make medicines for drug companies (like Pfizer, who fund my work). This is a more environmentally friendly way to make medicines than currently used and is called biocatalysis.
My Typical Day:
I usually wake up at 7am and aim to get to the lab for 9am. I spend my day planning and running experiments, reading research papers and attending meetings. I will go home at 6pm and may go swimming, to a yoga class or just relax at home.
Every day can be different! And the experiments that I run can vary a lot day to day. This is something I love about my work. Some days I grow my enzymes in E.coli bacteria and other days I crystallise my enzymes or look at chemical reactions by gas chromatography (a big expensive machine!). Here is a photo of where I spend my time.
In addition to these daily activities, sometimes I will teach undergraduate students in the chemistry teaching labs.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I will use the prize money to develop outreach and engagement activities inspired by my research such as 3D models of enzymes and the impacts of engineering enzymes.
Before covid hit, I had plans with the Department of Chemistry Outreach Team to develop an engagement activity for the Festival of Ideas Science Fair in York. This could not go ahead but I can use this opportunity to make the activity bigger and better for future outreach events. I plan to make 3D printed models demonstrating enzyme engineering and hands on activities explaining how proteins are built.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Really curly hair
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I have followed this career path as I am motivated to make a difference by solving problems which don't yet have answers!
What was your favourite subject at school?
Science and Textiles
What did you want to be after you left school?
An astronaut a poet and a fashion designer (I didn't become any of these!)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I never received a detention!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I'd love to learn more about marine wildlife so maybe a marine biologist?!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Twenty One Pilots
What's your favourite food?
My family is Italian so I have to pick homemade pasta and pizza!!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I have swam with dolphins
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be able to time travel and fly and do a perfect headstand!
Tell us a joke.
When Oxygen and Magnesium started dating I was like, "O Mg!"