Having such fun answering all of your questions, keep them coming!
Favourite Thing: I love science when you get good results and discovering new things. Sometimes you’ve worked really hard for a long time and when your effort pays off, it’s very rewarding.
St. Margaret’s School, Exeter (2002-2009), Durham University (2009-present)
Masters degree in chemistry
I had a summer job in Sainsbury’s working on the checkout
I’m a student researcher making possible new medicines
Hi! I’m a PhD student at Durham University and I study chemistry
Hi! I’m Hannah and I’m 25 years old 🙂 I’m a PhD student at Durham University and I study chemistry. At home I have a dog, called Dougal, and I love taking him for a walk at the beach. I really like cooking and my favorite TV programme is the Great British Bakeoff, although nothing I bake is as good as the cakes they make!
I make new drugs for a nasty tropical disease that is caused by parasites
In my work, I try to discover new drugs which could be used to treat a nasty tropical disease called leishmaniasis (said like ‘leash-man-eye-asis’). The disease is really horrible – it causes very painful skin infections (google leishmaniasis if you want to see some photos, it’s really gross) and can kill people if they don’t get proper treatment for it. We really need new medicines for leishmanaisis because the drugs doctors use to treat the disease at the moment have horrible side effects and are very expensive. Luckily we can’t get leishmaniasis in the UK, it’s mainly found in places like South America or India and you catch it by being bitten by a sandfly that transfers parasites into your body.
My Typical Day
Doing some chemistry reactions in the lab to make new molecules or looking after my parasites
In my chemistry lab, I make a lot of possible drugs for the disease leishmaniasis by doing reactions. I join different chemicals together to make the drug I want, which sounds easy but sometimes making one molecule can take several weeks.
Most days I also have to look after my parasites in the biology lab. The first thing I do is to look at them under the microscope to check if they are alive – it’s like having lots of pets, as they need to be fed and at the right temperature to be happy and grow.
Once I have made a few new molecules, I test them against the parasites which cause the disease to see which work the best.
What I'd do with the money
I’d like to take use the money to design some fun activities to take to science fairs or local schools to show them what I do
The chemistry department at Durham University has a really good team of students who visit local schools, Scouts and Guide groups and many more places. If I won, I’d like to buy this team some new equipment so we can visit even more school students and let them do some cool experiments (my favorite is making slime!).
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, hardworking and determined
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Ben Howard and Bon Iver
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I’ve been to NASA Space Camp in America!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I actually wanted to be an astronaut, but ended up studying chemistry instead
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, although I do talk alot so got told to be quiet very often
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemistry and Physics, but I enjoyed learning languages (I speak a bit of German)
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I did some research in San Fransisco and had an absolutely amazing time both in the lab and sight-seeing after work
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I always really enjoyed science at school and just did what I liked
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I’m not sure, maybe a doctor?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I’d love to be able to fly, I’ve always wanted to meet Ryan Gosling (the actor) and my last wish is that you might vote for me!
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the chemist reading a book on helium? He just couldn’t put it down…
This is me using a machine which we use to purify our molecules:
I look after my parasites in the biology lab, here I’m looking at them under the microscope.
This is the incubator, where we keep the parasites. They are kept in the plastic flasks in a liquid (called medium) which has all the things like nutrients that the parasites need to grow.