Really enjoying the live chats!
In reverse order: The University of Manchester, Runshaw College and Priory Academy
Before going to university I was a waiter in an Italian restaurant (free pizza!)! I’ve also worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.
John Innes Centre, Department of Molecular Microbiology
Favourite thing to do in my job: Finding out how bacteria work on the smallest scale!
A PhD student with dreams of glory!
I’m Thom, a PhD student living in Norwich.
My research is into how bacteria produce drugs that we can use as medicine. I love my job because it allows me to follow my curiosity and travel the world!
I’m basically as big a nerd as you can imagine. I love playing board games and video games and love reading about history!
I research how bacteria produce drugs and how we can use this knowledge to discover new ones!
Bacteria are everywhere. The soil, the sea, up your nose – you name it! Everywhere you look, a complex ecosystem of bacteria are getting on with their daily lives. In order to survive in these communities, they produce a variety of molecules, either as messages to communicate with each other or as chemical weapons to kill or hunt each other.
These compounds can be incredibly complex and require huge molecular factories to produce them. By studying these factories, we can start to understand how we can discover new drugs for use in medicine, or how we can redesign these systems to our own purposes…
My Typical Day
Research, write, sleep, repeat.
My current goal is to get my PhD – to become a doctor. In order to do this I have to produce what is called a thesis, a body of work that furthers the boundaries of human knowledge (if it sounds scary – it is!).
In short this means working in the lab to get results and to build those results into a thesis. As such, my days mostly consist of working in the labs (culturing my bacteria, seeing what the produce, playing with their genetics etc.) and writing those results into a form other people can read and understand.
There are fun aspects to the job too though. Presenting your work is a big part of being a scientist and this, although nerve wracking, is very rewarding. Also, taking part in events like this to share my work with the public is a lot of fun!
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d use the money to create a resource to better explain the routes for young people into science and the types of roles available.
Science was always something that interested me when I was younger. That said, it was never clear to me how someone goes about getting a career in science, or even what types of jobs were available. As such, I kind of stumbled into my current position and was never felt able to plan particularly far ahead.
Talking to young people in the UK, it is clear that this is still a bit of a problem. The career seems a little impenetrable. This is a shame, as a career in science can be enjoyable and immensely rewarding (I love my job!)!
As such, if I win, I plan to use the money to set up a resource to help clarify to young people the various routes into a scientific career and what types of job to expect at the end of it. I intend to use my network to produce a number of video interviews with people at all stages of their career and in a variety of different jobs. Hopefully, this will light the road for potential future scientists in the UK.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Honest, happy and nerdy!:B
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Traveled the world! I’ve had to opportunity to visit some fantastic places at all corners of the globe!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
When I was younger, I was fascinated by alchemy and the idea that you could turn lead into gold. Obviously, alchemy doesn’t work, but with chemistry we do have the power to turn one set of elements into another – I think this is really exciting!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
The dog ate my homework… frequently.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Bored. Just kidding, probably I’d be working with computers or a historian!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
If I had to pick only one? I’m really in to Reggae and Ska, so I’d probably go for Bob Marley!
What's your favourite food?
All of it. Love a nice rare steak though!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Not sure, but I’ve just got back from visiting Korea – that was lots of fun!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Time travel and immortality. I’d save the third for an emergency!
Tell us a joke.
One atom says to another: ‘I’ve lost an electron.’ The other replies: ‘Are you positive!?’