Who or what inspired you?
It’s impossible for me to select on person or event has inspired me to go into research. I just continued pursuing what I enjoyed and I had encouragement from every person in every lab I’ve worked in along the way.
All my science teachers at school were women and I appreciated having mixed lecturers and being mentored by PhD students, post-docs and supervisors while doing my degree and Masters.
I suppose I was inspired by everyone I’ve met in research and that’s why I’m still here!
In terms of my research, I work on understanding what happens in the Alzheimer’s disease brain. I was inspired to work in this area because of the huge scientific, economic and human problem dementia poses. In Alzheimer’s disease nerve cells in the brain are dying and we don’t know why. I wanted to to help find the answer to this so we can have a chance at finding a solution to dementia.
What age did you decide what you wanted to do/research?
When I was 17 I was lucky enough to be offered a Nuffield Bursary to spend a summer working on a small research project at a GlaxoSmithKline site near my hometown. This was my first experience in a lab and it confirmed to me that I enjoyed research and I wanted to do a science degree.
As for deciding to do a PhD, it took another few stints in research labs in the 3rd year of my undergraduate degree. I found the degree and exams demanding but when I returned to the lab environment I knew this is where I wanted to continue to work.
A brief overview of your research – any links, photos, videos to illustrate it
I’ve recently written a blog post for Alzheimer’s Research UK about my research which is aimed at looking at blood flow in the Alzheimer’s brain. I look at a group of proteins that have effects on blood vessels and neurons to see if they can help explain the interaction between these in disease. I use human brain from the South West Dementia Brain Bank and cell models to understand what’s going in on the Alzheimer’s disease brain compared other adults who do not have dementia.
Anything quirky or unusual you’ve discovered?
I’m a year into my PhD, so I don’t have many results to report. However, as I’ve been talking about my research I’ve have discovered how few people know that in the same way eating well and exercising regularly can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, it can also reduce risk of developing dementia later in life.
I feel it’s important to get this message out:
If you take care of your heart now, you can take care of your brain later.
How does your research relate to everyday life?
Dementia is already a burden with a huge economic and human cost. This is only set to increase with an ageing population so I hope that understanding more about dementia and it’s leading cause, Alzheimer’s disease, will lead us towards a way to prevent, treat or even cure this condition.
Show people where you work
I work in the Learning and Research Building at Southmead Hospital. It’s bright and open plan and there are several different research groups working on diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and more.
I spend some time at my (rather untidy) desk, but I at the moment the majority of my day is spent carrying out experiments in the lab.
I also get to spend some time in the library, living up to the ‘student’ part of the PhD! I enjoy being part of a university community and having my PhD scholarship to read and write as well as work on my research in the lab.
Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
If you want to read more about the women in STEM follow #ALD15 today on twitter.
If you’d like to hear more about the amazing women working at the University of Bristol, follow #UoBInspired.