I’m a PhD researcher in Antarctic entomology (the study of insects- yes, there are two species that live in Antarctica!). I live in Birmingham with my cat Cupcake and my leopard gecko called Dobby. I love ballet dancing, ice skating, trying to learn Spanish, and inspiring people to get involved with STEM!
I’m a PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham and British Antarctic Survey where I’m studying ‘insect responses to climate change in Antarctica and ecosystem consequences’. I have previously graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Zoology and an MRes in Biological Sciences where I specialised my research to investigate the effects of light pollution on the circadian rhythms of marine animals.
Alongside my PhD, I work as a private science tutor and I have six years of experience, including teaching Biology at the prestigious Harrow School in London from 2021-22. Alongside this role, I am also a school governor at King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls in Birmingham, Co-Head of Education with the UK Polar Network, a STEM Ambassador, and I lecture internationally on cruise lines to large audiences on polar biology, climate change, and other wildlife-related topics. Additionally, I’m a passionate animal rights activist and I was recently a volunteer writer for Sentient Media.
My pronouns are:
I’m a scientist and I’m doing a PhD in Antarctic entomology (the study of insects) and climate change at the University of Birmingham and the British Antarctic Survey. I’ll be going to Antarctica next year for field work!
During the 1960s, some scientists decided to move some plants from an island in Antarctica called South Georgia to another island called Signy. They did this to see how the plants might grow in this new habitat. However, they didn’t consider the fact that there may be other organisms living in the soil along with the plants. As a result, they accidentally introduced an insect species, called Eretmoptera murphyi. There are in fact only two species of insect that live in Antarctica. This species is now called an ‘invasive’ species because it has been able to survive and spread across Signy Island. My research investigates what this insect species is doing to the new island and whether it’s having positive or negative effects. The insect lives in the soil and breaks down organic matter, releasing lots of nutrients. So we hypothesise that there are now more nutrients on Signy Island, meaning that other ‘invasive’ species, such as plants, may find it easier to survive there. This means that the island might be at a greater risk of other species being introduced which may have knock-on effects on the rest of the ecosystem. For example, the introduction of invasive species can cause some of the resident species to become extinct and they may bring diseases that the native animals are not equipped to deal with. My research also predicts how climate change may affect the distribution of these invasive species in the future. It’s possible that warming climates may allow more species to move around and survive in new habitats.
My Typical Day:
I wake up and have breakfast (usually a homemade smoothie and a coffee). I get to work at about 10 a.m (I prefer to start work later and leave later)., where I check my emails and make a to-do list for the day. Some days I might then go to the lab to do some experiments, other days I might stay in the office and prepare a paper for publication, or I might be designing a poster for a conference. Then I have lunch with friends, and I head back to the office or the lab for the rest of the day. I sometimes have lab meetings or a catch-up with my supervisor in the afternoon. I usually go home at about 6 p.m. After work, I might tutor one of my GCSE or A-Level students, I might head to the gym, or I might go to a dance or ice skating lesson.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I’d really like to start a ‘polar podcast’ where I’d interview scientists who work in the Arctic and Antarctic to tell us about their amazing research. Polar scientists work in many different fields- from atmospheric science to penguins, from climate change to frozen fossils, and they often get to do fieldwork in some of the coldest places on Earth. This podcast would be for everyone and would show people how amazing the polar regions are and what scientists are doing to protect them. This would hopefully encourage people to get involved with STEM and maybe even inspire the next generation of polar scientists! The prize money would be spent on podcast equipment and paying for editing software to ensure episodes sound great before uploading them to Spotify or a similar platform. If there’s any money left over, I’d organise a competition through the podcast for a lucky person to win some British Antarctic Survey merch. I’d love to get this off the ground, so please vote for me!
I grew up in Somerset in the South West. The countryside is beautiful in Somerset and this is where I first became interested in wildlife and nature. I went to a secondary school near my hometown for my GCSEs, and I then went to a college for my A-Levels. I took a gap year after my A-Levels and spent eight months working in a shop and then in a hotel as a waitress, and I then spent 10 weeks in Botswana doing an animal conservation internship. After that, I moved to Bristol and spent five years at university completing my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I then moved to London for a year to teach Biology at Harrow School before moving to Birmingham to complete my PhD, which is where I live now.
PhD in Biosciences, University of Birmingham (current)
Master by Research in Biological Sciences, University of Bristol
Bachelor of Science in Zoology, University of Bristol
History (just for one year- AS), Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on Antarctic marine biology- this is how I first became interested in the polar regions!
English, Maths, Geography, History, Science (Combined), Music, Spanish, Religious Studies
You’ll notice that I didn’t do separate science at GCSE. That’s because I decided I wanted to be a journalist for a few years and decided that I didn’t like science! But then I realised that I definitely wanted to do science at university and took Biology and Chemistry at A-Level. There was a fair amount of catching up to do!
2022-2023: Event volunteer with the Royal Entomological Society*
2021-2023: Reviewer for scientific journals, e.g., Polar Biology*
2022-2023: House parent in a boarding house at the Harrow International Summer Schools
2021-2022: Biology teacher at Harrow School in London
2021: Business support officer at Bristol Tutors
2021: Academic mentor with the Sutton Trust
2019-2021: Postgraduate assistant teacher and tutor at the University of Bristol
2019-2021: Widening participation ambassador and open day host at the University of Bristol
2020-2021: Processing operative and testing assistant at the University of Bristol Covid-19 test centre
2019-2020- Welfare officer at the University of Bristol Dance Society*
2016- Wildlife conservation intern, WildlifeACT in Botswana*
2016- Waitress at a hotel in Somerset
2015- Sales adviser at Debenhams
2015- Exhibition assistant at the Museum of Somerset*
2014- Animal care assistant at Ferne Animal Sanctuary*
PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham and British Antarctic Survey, international wildlife lecturer, co-head of education at UK Polar Network*, science tutor, A-Level examiner, STEM ambassador*, and school governor*
I work at the University of Birmingham and British Antarctic Survey. My Ph.D. is funded by the Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA- Doctoral Training Partnership)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Vegetable-loving Antarctic scientist
What did you want to be after you left school?
A marine biologist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, mainly when I was in primary school...I used to like running away from teachers when break time was over, and being very noisy in class!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Maybe a historian or a psychologist
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Léon, HAIM, CHVRCHES
What's your favourite food?
I'm vegan, so anything packed with lots of veggies and tofu!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To make a difference in the scientific community, to eventually have my own animal sanctuary, and the most important- to be happy!
Tell us a joke.
What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college? Bison!