It's so exciting being in the final! Thank you all so much for your fantastic questions :-D it has been an awesome experience!
University of Malta (2008-2011), University of East Anglia (2011-2012), University of Bath (2013-present)
BSc Hons, MSc, MRes.
GCSE Chemistry teacher
University of Bath
Favourite thing to do in my job: My favourite thing in science is when I have an idea and the following day I can go to the lab, mix some stuff up and see if my idea is actually correct. Coming up with your own brilliant ideas is awesome, being able to actually show that they work is even better.
Analysing reactions after shining visible light over them
Nature is the mother of all things, and evolution has managed to develop a system where it can turn light to energy; photosynthesis. My work is trying to do something similar, in using light and change this energy into a chemical bond.
Flavins are a natural molecule, found in a number of enzymes, that can be photo-excited when irradiated with light, making it highly reactive. Once it is excited the energy can be used for the system to undergo chemical reactions that would otherwise not be possible. The most common flavin is vitamin B2, which unfortunately cannot be used for this research since it is highly insoluble, meaning that it will not form a solution in common solvents.
My Typical Day
Switching on lights, setting up reactions and analysing the data I get
No day is the same, and that is the reason why working in a lab is so interesting.
There are some underlying concepts that are similar, mainly the fact that the ending of most days is to set up reaction and switch on my light source, and then I spend the first part of the morning working up reactions and using spectroscopic techniques to see what is happening in my reactions.
The afternoon is normally used to read articles and come up with brilliant ideas to try the ext day while I also use this time to build some rigs up, mainly different lightning sources to try out for my reactions.
What I'd do with the prize money
I will go to schools and talk to the students about science
The number of students choosing GCSE science subjects is decreasing, and I will be using this money to be able to go to different schools and talk to them about careers in science, using my past experiences as an example to what one can do in science.
This would be a different approach to the one most schools use, in which students only have the possibility of talking to staff from the school with regards to their options for the future.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
friendly, easy going, passionate
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
The most memorable was definitely setting myself on fire by mistake, but the best thing I’ve done was to prepare a preliminary capsule that had the potential to be used in smart drug delivery modules.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My father, he taught me to ask questions about everything in life, and without knowing, he groomed me to be an inquisiitve person, which is another word for a scientist.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
One can only get in trouble if he is caught ;)
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
This is a tricky question, but I would probably have become a teacher, where I would still most probably be teaching sciences.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
My all time favorite would have to be Laura Pausini, but currently I enjoy listening to Katy Perry :)
What's your favourite food?
There is only going to be one winner for this: pizza :)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I have spent three days on a survival course in Sicily, where I had to forage for food and look for water.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
K, here they are: immortality (preferably not getting old as well),owning my own country with a population of more than 5, 000, 000 and super-intelligence
Tell us a joke.
Just read that 4,153,237 people got married last year, not to cause any trouble but shouldn’t that be an even number?