Kings College London 2006-2009; UCL 2009-2010; University of Oxford 2012-2016
BSc (Biomedical Science), MSc (Cognitive Neuroscience), PhD (Neuroscience)
UCL – research assistant,
Postdoctoral research scientist
University of Oxford
Favourite thing to do in science: Looking at my participants brain scans for the first time, each brain is unique and you never know what you might see!
I love an adventure, whether its climbing a mountain or trying new foods you can definitely count me in!
I live in Oxford in a flat with my friendly cat called Mr Wickham (I say my cat, its more like the neighbourhoods cat but my flat is definitely his favourite sunning spot). I spend my weekends hiking out into the countryside for an adventure either here in Oxford or with my boyfriend in Sussex. I love nature, and hunting and photographing new butterflies is one of my favourite things to do. I’m always on the look out for new and exciting recipes and have never been known to pass up the offer of a cup of tea and cake!
I’m a neuroscientist who explores the relationship between the brain and how we perceive the world
I am a neuroscientist based in Oxford with two big interests:
For my PhD I used Oxfords very high powered MRI machine (theres only a few in the whole of the UK) to investigate the human brain at a super detailed level. I was particularly interested in how our brain organises what we see. When we look at a picture for example, the things that we see, such as colours or shapes, each have their own special pathways to follow. We wanted to learn more about these pathways and to see them in action using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) on our mega magnet.
Now that I have finished my PhD I use MRI to look at the brains of people who have smoked over a period of many years and now have trouble with their breathing. Sometimes these people who have trouble with their breathing can feel more anxious than we would expect. I am interested in how these peoples brains differ from people who don’t smoke and in making links between how people feel about their breathing and their brains activity. These differences might help us understand why some people feel more worried than others when they can’t breathe and allow us to develop treatments to retrain their brains.
My Typical Day
I meet my participants in the morning, scan them on the MRI machine at lunch time and analyse their brains in the afternoon.
We normally see two participants per week and on those days we are very busy! We meet them at 10am and they complete a big list of questionnaires that ask them about their breathing and generally how they feel. I leave the volunteer working on these with one of our researchers and go to work at my computer, coding and thinking about new ways to look at our data is a big part of my job.
At lunch time we MRI scan our participant, they have to be carefully checked for metal as it is very important not to take loose metal into the scanner as you can see if you click this link
After the participant has had their scan, which lasts around 1 hour, they do some more tests for their breathing and some computer games. While they do this I look at the MRI pictures to make sure it is good quality and do some basic analysis straight away.
After the participant has left at around 3pm I meet with some of our other team members to book in new participants and take some time to read any research papers that might help me to think in new ways. It is very important to know what other people are doing and to see how our work can fit in with this.
The great thing about being a researcher is that you can be very flexible with when and where you work. Sometimes I leave work early but often I have a very interesting question to answer and I find that I’m still working on it at 9pm. It never feels like work because we have so many questions and we know might be able to help people if we answer them.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Determined, Curious and Thoughtful
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I once got to present my research in a conference in Hawaii
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I didn’t know anything about researchers until I did an Masters in neuroscience. Then I met an AMAZING researcher called Marty Sereno who wore Hawaiian shirts and played guitar. He inspired me!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I just kept doing things I thought were interesting
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Lots of times but not on purpose! I once set fire to my desk in a chemistry class
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I would be radiographer (the people who can run the MRI machines)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Cheese Cheese Cheese
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Probably husky dog sledging on a glacier in Iceland
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Only 3! I wish that I was better at maths, I wish that I could spell better, I wish that I could speak another language.
Tell us a joke.
What does a brain do when it sees a friend across the street? It gives a brain wave