Leeds Uni. 2005-2009, Warwick Uni 2009-now
Bachelors and Masters in Physics, Masters of Science in Mathematical Biology and Biophysical Chemistry, now I’m doing the PhD version of that.
Paper round, admin, warehouse work, student.
University of Warwick
Favourite thing to do in my job: Artificial Intelligence
A PhD student, I’m doing a project in intelligent systems (computer programs), and protein chemistry to help people who design new medicines.
I’m very interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
I use something called a self-organising map, which is an artificial neural network to find patterns in data from scanning proteins with UV light. This UV light is polarised, which means that only some of the light gets through. This light is circularly polarised, it travels in spirals. So you shine the polarised light on your protein, which is a long string of chemicals called amino acids stuck together, this is in water or some other solvent, and you get a spectrum.
The spectrum, called a circular dichroism spectrum, is a graph of the light absorbed by your protein for each wavelength of light. Light we can see with our eyes has wavelengths of about 400 to 700 nanometers, and the UV light we use is 190 to 240 nm, so far too short for a human eye to see. The circular dichroism (CD) spectrum of a protein can tell us about its structure.
A protein’s structure is very important for understanding how it works in the body.
I work with the computer programs that learn from this data; it takes a lot of it, and clusters it to find out which spectra relate to which structures of proteins. Then another researcher can use my program with their CD spectrum of a protein to learn its structure without having to know loads of technical stuff about how the CD spectrum relates to the structure.
My Typical Day
Writing computer programs, writing scientific papers, thinking about intelligence, learning more science, thinking about what research to do next.
Wake up at 8:30, get into work for 10:30 to 11 am, check emails, break for elevenses.
Sit at my computer and write papers about my research, and try to make my self-organising map program better.
Lunch at 12:00 or 13:00, talk to friends about Warhammer, Philosophy, Science, try to apply Maths inappropriately to everything.
After an hour-and-a-half of lunch (or maybe 2): Lots of writing research papers, and learning more about programming in MATLAB and C++.
Meet with boss, and talk about work for 15 minutes.
Think about what conferences I should go to, or what posters or presentations I need to do.
On most Wednesdays we go to see someone talking about their research, and get a free lunch out of it. This is big in universities, they like to give you free lunch when you attend a talk by someone in whatever department of the university.
Talk to friends about work and any random topic related to it, or just whatever is funny.
Listen to music on YouTube and Sound Cloud (while working).
Rush to get enough done by about 18:00, get the bus home.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
ambitious, geek, researcher
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Either building a quantum computer or making intelligent computers.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Wildlife TV shows, Newscientist.com, BBC’s Horizon, paleontology shows(digging up dinosaurs etc.)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A computer programmer? An architect? A business man?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
All of it
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Flying a glider
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
power, money, immortality