BSc Biomedical Science
Doctoral Researcher in muscle physiology
Favourite thing to do in my job: Testing human muscles. Muscles give off an electrical signal, and we have to make sense of the signal to try and work out what the muscle is doing, how hard it is working, and how well it is being controlled.
I study motor unit characteristics and their association with muscle function
A motor unit can be described as the motor neuron and all of the muscle fibres it serves. An easier way to look at it may be to imagine the motor neuron as an electrical wire and the muscle fibres as light bulbs. When electricity is applied through the wire the bulbs light up, likewise when the motor neuron is activated the muscle fibres contract. And what happens when muscle fibres contract? We get movement.
Where it becomes complicated is when we look at the amount of motor units within a muscle, and the size of the motor units within each muscle. This will be different in each muscle, and different within each individual person. To make it even more complicated they do not stay the same, they change as we get older, again the level of change is different within individuals. The evidence suggests that as we get older, we get fewer motor units as some ‘die’, and those that remain become larger.
My Typical Day
Go into the lab, sometimes stick some needles into people, try and make sense of the results.
It can be different every day. If I’m testing people then I would be in the lab, depending on the particular muscle being tested then the volunteer would be hooked up to some kind of force transducer so we can see how strong they are. As they make their muscles contract we will detect the electrical activity with electrodes, some go on top of the skin and some are inserted into the muscle. We also take images of the muscle with our MRI and ultrasound scanners.
What I'd do with the prize money
Buy STEM equipment to promote human physiology, it’s important!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious. Inquisitive. Ambitious.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Met a lot of interesting people; study volunteers and other scientists
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
The fact that there are so many questions with so much to learn. Richard Dawkins among others.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, but only during Religious Education lessons
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Professional climber or cross fit athlete.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Made the first ascent of a mountain
Tell us a joke.
Deja poo: The feeling that you’ve heard this c@#p before