I’m a PhD student based in Oban, but I live with my partner and cat in Falkirk. I love horses, climbing, and music.
I like to spend my spare time climbing and going for walks to take photos. I love music and listen to a lot of different music. I like crafting and making things, one year I knitted hats for everyone in my family! I also love animals and being around them. I like comedy and laugh very easily.
My pronouns are:
I look at DNA in mud from the sea floor. I use this to work out how healthy the sea floor is.
I use environmental DNA to work out what species of bacteria are living in the mud below salmon farms. These bacteria then tell me how healthy the mud is, and if the salmon farm is damaging it too much. This is because the salmon poo all over the sea floor beneath the farms, and it builds up and gets very smelly and upsets the little bugs that live on the seabed. The DNA is very good at telling us how smelly it is! I also look at how the mud is stored before I get the DNA out of it, and if that has any effect on my results. I found that if I left the mud in a car on a hot day then the DNA will be different!
My Typical Day:
I work from home when I don’t have to be in the lab. I make my coffee and get cosy, reply to emails, and then do some writing or work on some data. If I’m in the lab I will spend my day getting DNA out of mud and then preparing it for sequencing. Sometimes I get to go out on the boat to collect samples.
If I’m at home then I’ll start my day with admin work to wake up a bit. There’s always lots of emails! Then I’ll start looking at some data. Plotting my data makes it easy for me to see what is going on. I like to make sure they’re all as clear as possible and look nice. I’ll also do some reading, there’s always new science about the work I do and I want to know about it! I have a lot of writing to do too. I like to break everything up so I don’t get bored of doing one thing.
When I’m in the lab I am getting DNA out of mud and preparing it for sequencing. There are a lot of steps that take a long time. I’ll start my day by planning what I want to do that day, and then defrosting everything I need. Once I have the DNA out of the mud, I make lots of copies of it with PCR to make sure I have lots of the DNA I need. I then add some tags to the DNA so I can mix it all together and put it on a sequencer. The sequencer is my favourite part! It takes a few days but I can watch its progress online. It’s so exciting finding out what species were in the mud from their DNA.
I changed school a lot, including home education. I went to school in England and moved up to Scotland when I started university.
I found school really challenging as I didn’t get on well with other people and struggled with organisation. I would leave school to learn at home, and then get bored and miss the structure of school and interacting with people, so I would go back until I got overwhelmed again. I think some extra support would have helped me a lot, so if any of this sounds familiar please reach out to your teachers.
IGCSEs: Biology, chemistry, physics, English literature, English language.
AS levels: Maths
A levels: Biology, chemistry, physics
BSc in Genetics
MSc in Marine Conservation
After graduating with a BSc in Genetics I worked in care for two years. I felt burned out by university as I struggled with a few aspects of it, so wanted a break from science. I also wanted to be able to help people and get more comfortable with them. During this time I explored game design work too. Care was a great job but it did make me realise how much I loved science to start with.
I went back to university to do my Masters in Marine Conservation. It took me three years of applying to PhDs to get one! During this time there was the pandemic so I also worked in a Covid testing lab.
Scottish Association for Marine Science (UHI)
This is a big marine research centre based in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland. They’re supported by the University of the Highlands and Islands to provide degrees, both undergraduate and postgraduate.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Only for being late in the mornings
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Game design or CGI for films
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Bring Me The Horizon
What's your favourite food?