Sudbury Upper School
10 GCSEs. 4 A-levels and one AS level. BSc/MSci in Physics. DPhil (PhD) in Mathematical Biology.
Teaching at a school. Intern (researcher) at a drug company in Switzerland. Research at university.
Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford
A physicist in a maths department disguised as a cancer researcher
Hi! I’m a researcher who lives in Oxford. I went to university to do Physics as a bright-eyed 18 year old, then became a doctor of mathematical biology. I now do cancer research at the university (with maths).
I like to row boats around, get destroyed by people who are better than me at video games and learn languages (German and Japanese).
How I Use Maths In My Job:
I use maths and a computer to study cancer and our immune systems. We can train the immune system to attack cancer cells. To cure someone of cancer, we need the killing rate of immune cells to be faster than the growth of cancer cells — that’s an equation! I try to work out what these rates might be.
I use maths and a computer to do cancer research.
I want to work out how medicines for cancer work. I need to calculate how quickly they move around the body, how quickly they can find cancer cells, and how they might change in different people. I write down a lot of equations to describe the body, and then I type it into a computer to simulate it.
I end up with complicated diagrams like the one below! This one shows the organs of the body and has some quick calculations for something in the human and mouse.
Using computers lets me make videos that show where a medicine is moving over time. In this video, organs colour red when they have more of the medicine than other organs. This lets us work out whether the medicine could actually be working against a cancer or not.
My Typical Day
Drink coffee. Write equations. Make computer programs. Have meetings. Do presentations.
Every day is different, but they all start like this:
Otherwise, I work on whatever I think needs most attention. Here is a sample day:
8.10AM: Answer emails.
8:30AM: Write equations to describe immune system movement into cancer.
9:30AM: Make computer program to solve those equations.
11AM: Lab meeting.
1PM: Meeting with student.
2PM: Make slides to give a presentation to the lab.
3PM: Read articles from a scientific journal.
4PM: Write down the work I have been doing and what it means, to publish.
5PM: End of work! Go do a workout.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Mathematical cancer researcher
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Good science teachers!
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
Making computer code to solve little problems, like renaming all my files
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
A bit dull
What did you want to be after you left school?
I just wanted to study more science
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, I could never keep my mouth shut. I still did the work, but I talked a lot
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
GaMetal, on YouTube
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Once went to a theme park in the autumn on a working day. Empty! No queues!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be the fairest of them all. And rich, I suppose.
Tell us a joke.
An infinite line of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first asks for a pint. The second asks for half a pint. The third asks for a quarter of a pint. The bartender looks at them all, rolls his eyes and serves two pints.