Keil School: 1994-2000, University of Edinburgh: 2002-2006, University of Bristol: 2006-2007, University College London: 2015-Present
University of Bristol & Imperial College London
PhD student/Exercise and Cardiac Physiologist
University College London
Favourite thing to do in my job: I like to measure what happens inside someone’s muscles when they exercise.
I measure changes during exercise using different tools that ‘see’ inside people while they are doing exercise.
My research is all about exercise and why people exercise less as they get older. Specifically I would like to find out more about what happens inside muscle cells (myocytes) before, during and after doing a bit of exercise. It’s also interesting to find out why some people could respond better to training than others (figure 1) .
I spend a lot of time with people, I ask them to exercise while I attach different things to their legs, arms, waist and even covering their face (figure 2) . My laboratory looks a bit like a mini-gym (figure 3) .
When I’m at my desk I fit slopes and curves to the data that I have collected. For example, I measure oxygen in the muscle and if I stop oxygen being delivered to that muscle (with a very tight cuff) I can watch the oxygen go down as it is being used up by the muscle. That slope is called the muscle oxygen consumption (or muscleVO2) (figure 4) .
I am also interested in how heart-health effects muscle health because muscle strength has been linked to cardiovascular disease (Figure 5) . Sometimes I help the imaging team out by using ultrasound to take pictures of the participants hearts, this is called Echocardiography (Figure 6) .
My Typical Day
In the morning I ask participants (mostly people older than 65) to exercise on a stepper while I record how they respond then in the afternoon I use code to analyse the data.
There isn’t really a typical day because I try to get involved with lots of projects so that takes me out of the lab/office quite a bit. I also like going to conferences to present my data and hear about what other folk are doing. This is something which is BRILLIANT about being a scientist, especially when the conferences are held in exciting locations (such as the edge of Lake Garda in Italy) (Figure 7) 😉
What I'd do with the prize money
I would like to set up an interactive, open-access website with videos from exercise professionals (and some non-professionals) talking about why and how they participate in physical activities to keep themselves fit.
I’d like to develop a space on the web dedicated to inspiring exercise in people of all ages. I’d start by making some short video clips of people who exercise for fun and also people who exercise as their profession.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Lots of fun.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I met Princess Anne and told her playing Golf was probably not enough exercise.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
It was an accident
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
An olympic athlete
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I ran the London Marathon
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Funding for more good science, a castle and a unicorn.
Tell us a joke.
I’m a scientist, not a comedian.