Mount Vernon Primary, Bannerman High School, University of Strathclyde
8 Standard Grades, 6 Highers, MSci Chemstry
Pfizer, MSD, Xention
European Screening Centre, University of Dundee
I live in Glasgow and work as a chemist trying to find new compounds to treat diseases.
I live in Glasgow with my husband. I like cycling, going to aerobics classes and getting out and about in the hills in Scotland. When I’m not doing that, I love eating out and watching crime series on TV.
I work near Glasgow at the European Screening Centre as a chemist.
I work at the European Screening Centre which is part of a Europe wide project called the European Lead Factory. Lots of compounds (around 300,000!) are tested in assays to see if they are active against various diseases. My job is to remake any active compounds and try to improve them to make them better at targeting these diseases.
My Typical Day
I spend most of my day at my fume cupboard in the lab putting on reactions and trying to make chemical compounds that no one has ever made before.
I have to analyse them to check that I’ve made the right thing and also that they are pure enough. These compounds are tested by biologists in their assays to see if they’re active. When I’m not actually doing reactions, I spend my time planning new routes to make other compounds and thinking of ways to improve them.
What I'd do with the money
I’d use it to get local school kids to come to our lab and see what scientists do every day.
I’d set up experiments so that they could get some hands-on lab experience and inspire them to think about science.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Chatty, hard-working, impatient
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Any Thai curry
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Zip lining head-first like Superman through a cloud forest in Costa Rica. It was the best thing ever and I got to see loads of cool animals.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I’ve always wanted to be a chemist but I thought about being a chemical engineer for a while.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really – I was a bit of a goody two shoes.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemisty or physics
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Whenever a reaction works in the lab, that feels like the best thing I’ve ever done!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I had some great teachers at school who loved science and were really enthusiastic. Once I realised that people got paid for doing experiments in the lab, that was the only job for me.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I’d like to be like Sir David Attenborough and go round the world finding new animal species.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. I’d love to be able to click my fingers and be able to travel to anywhere in the world. 2. It would be great if I could help discover a drug to treat some of the world’s worst diseases and make a difference. 3. I’d love to be able to draw. Not a masterpiece or anything, just be good enough that other people could actually recognise what it was supposed to be!
Tell us a joke.
There were two fish in a tank. One fish says to the other, “How do you drive this thing?”
This is a photo of 2 reactions set up in my fume cupboard. A fume cupboard means we can do reactions safely without being exposed to the toxic chemicals we use everyday. The reaction on the left is being heated using a stirrer hotplate. The reaction on the right is being stirred at room temperature under an atmosphere of argon – that’s what’s in the balloon.
Sometimes instead of doing reactions in flasks, we can use a microwave. This is the instrument on the left hand side of the photo below. It is similar to the microwave you have at home but obviously looks a bit different. It can be used to carry out reactions at higher temperatures which means the reaction takes less time.
The instrument above on the right hand side helps us to purify compounds to make sure that they are clean enough to be tested.
The photo below shows an NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) machine. It’s basically a large and very expensive magnet – it costs around £400,000! It helps us to work out if the compound has the correct structure. In other words, have we made the right thing?!