Verulam School for GCSEs and A-levels, Royal Agricultural College for undergrad and then University of Edinburgh for PhD
8 GCSEs, 3 A-Levels, NVQ levels 1 and 2 in Racehorse Care, Bachelor’s degree in Equine Management and PhD in Quantitative Genetics
Jockey, then worked for a company that made circuit boards for the Eurofighter and F1 cars. Now working as a scientist at the University of Edinburgh
Postdoctoral research fellow studying the genetics of depression
Favourite thing to do in my job:
Coding, I love coding and it’s so satisfying when it runs successfully.
I live in Edinburgh and really enjoy doing research on mental health.
I left school at 18 to work in horseracing as my ambition was to become a jockey. I had about 100 rides and 5 winners before retiring in 2002. After retiring I worked in a number of managerial jobs and in 2007 I decided to do a degree to further my knowledge and strengthen my CV.
I obtained a first class honours degree in Equine Management from the Royal Agricultural College. I greatly enjoyed my time studying for my undergrad degree, and I found studying genetics really fascinating and I decided to pursue a second career working in this field.
In 2011, I began a four year PhD entitled ‘Managing genomic diversity in the course of selection’ at the Roslin Institute which is part of the University of Edinburgh.
I am currently working as a post-doctoral research fellow examining the genetics of depression in humans. This is a three year position within a project known as Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL) which is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
I examine genetic data try to find regions of the genome that influence whether someone develops depression
My Typical Day:
Checking and responding to emails. Research. Writing papers and grant proposals. Preparing and presenting talks. Going to meetings. Helping others with their research.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I plan to use the money to encourage a wider range of school kids to consider a career in science. There are a wide range of skills that are important within the sciences, including creative thinking, communication and writing. I will speak to a number of different people working in different areas in science (including journalists, technicians, public relations experts and coordinators) and produce a pack that provides more of the non-typical scientific careers to distribute to schools.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Same, but different
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My supervisor on my undergraduate degree was fantastic and had a very inquisitive mind which I found inspiring
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths, pretty much the only subject I really enjoyed.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Rarely, I tended to keep my head down.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I have already done a number of different jobs, but I can't imagine what else I would be doing other than science right now but it would probably be something with computers.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Black Pistol Fire are currently one of my favourite bands, along with Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes and Deap Vally
What's your favourite food?
I do love pizza
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Stayed in an airbnb in Canada and the owner took us to a cabin he was building on an island. We had to hire a car and take a ferry to this island. The island was beautiful and we jumped from some rocks in to the ocean and ate grilled cheese sandwiches from a BBQ.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I want to help make a difference to people lives, get paid loads of money (this isn't going to happen in science) and be happy
Tell us a joke.
How do you get down off an elephant? You don't, you get down off a duck