I had a great time! Thanks for all the students and scientists that made this such an exciting event... I'm missing it already! :)
I studied at University of Nottingham and the Royal Veterinary College
A-Levels (All science A-Levels… I really like science!), BSc Zoology, MSc Wild Animal Biology
I have had a lot of jobs – more than I can write on here! I have worked in a laboratory at Leeds University and London Zoo, and I have done many non-science jobs in shops and cafes.
I am a PhD student
University of Liverpool and Institute of Zoology
I’m a biologist looking at disease in baboons and other wild animals!
I look at why climate change would make baboons more, or less, ill with disease. So I study their poo to see what diseases they have (and yes, it is smelly).
To do this I have quite a lot of different work to do:
Fieldwork – following baboons in Africa
Laboratory work – Looking at the poo samples to find the parasites
Computer work – Using the information from the field and the lab to find out how climate change will affect disease in animals and in humans!
And why baboons? Baboons are important to study for many reasons; they get the same diseases as humans, and they act similar to humans, and they spread diseases to humans! They are also primates, and there are many primates that are nearly going extinct – so the more we know about them the better!
My Typical Day
My days are always so different! When I’m in Africa I do a lot of walking! In England I do a lot of thinking, writing and reading. (Click on the links below to find out more…)
In Africa I live in Namibia and I stay in a tent at a campsite on a project with London Zoo called the Tsaobis Baboon Project. Here we have two troops of baboons that we follow every day. We wake up before sunrise to find the troop waking up, and then we follow them all day long, like this. We do a lot of walking – until they rest and we get to rest with them. We would write down their behaviour (like, who their friends are), collect poo samples, and see what food they eat. We have been trying to get the baboons to weigh themselves, which is very difficult! Then we wait until the baboons go to sleep at sunset before we go back home to sleep.
In the laboratory I look down the microscope. I look at the poo (after sieving it and adding chemicals) to try and see how many diseases the baboons have. The diseases are parasites (both worms and amoeba), and I find out how many there are by the number of eggs I find, and they look like this:
When I’m in the office I get to drink lots of cups of tea! I also read, write and learn as much as I can. At the moment I am building a model so that I can use all the information I know about disease in baboons and the weather – and then it will tell me what will happen when the climate changes in the future! And what will happen to humans!
What I'd do with the prize money
Make videos and a website, so I can blog my adventures when I’m in Africa
When I’m in the middle of a desert in Africa (without much internet!) it is hard to talk to people about the exciting science I am doing! So I would use the money to help me create videos of what I’m doing, and write a blog, and have a twitter account. Then I could make a website where all this information goes for everyone to see! People could then see how I follow the baboons, and how the baboons behave.
Wouldn’t that be fun?!
Here is a video of our baboons grooming and playing (and an annoying fly): Baboons grooming
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic monkey follower
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Working with the baboons is amazing – and living in Namibia has been one of my favourite jobs as a scientist. But other things I’ve done as a scientist is catch birds in Portugal; do post-mortems on interesting animals (like a Gaboon viper, and a penguin!); feed lemurs (they climbed all over me); and go to Canada to camp in snowy mountains!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I think most of my inspirations came from the television – Especially David Attenborough and the News. Watching all the problems in the world with animal conservation, health and climate change, I wanted to be one of the people that does something important to help the world – so I became a scientist!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Actually I was never in trouble! Never ever!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A famous singer! (I wish)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
This changes a lot – but at the moment I love ‘Of monsters and men’! If you haven’t heard of them, here is a link for you to dance to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I
What's your favourite food?
I love cereal, especially Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Coco Pops – and I eat it from a mug for dessert.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I might have to cheat on the question and write a list… So this summer I got to travel in Canada (it was amazing!)… watching elephants at night on safari (one of the perks of being a scientist)… and flying a plane upside down!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) The ability to time-travel… or to pause time! 2) Super strength powers, or flying powers, I’m not sure which is my favourite. 3) The ability to remember all the information in a book just by touching it!
Tell us a joke.
What do you call an exploding monkey… A baBOOM!