I grew up in the sleepy border town of Carlisle, Cumbria, UK. It’s a little place on the England-Scotland border, surrounded by beautiful scenery including the Lake District, the Solway coast, the Pennine valley and the Southern Uplands. Not a whole lot happens there, though. Carlisle possesses a very lovely castle,
which is now on webcam.
Other famous Cumbrians include Stan Laurel1 (of Laurel and Hardy), John Dalton (of the atomic weight unit), Fletcher Christian (of the Bounty) and Melvyn Bragg (of culture on UK TV/radio). The only mention of Carlisle in popular song, to my knowledge, is in “Panic” by The Smiths.
18 years later, I took off to study biochemistry at Edinburgh University. It was a blissful idyllic time, largely spent in the mountains of the Scottish highlands and islands. Edinburgh is a beautiful city and still one of my favourite places in the world.
You’d think 4 years of university would be enough for anyone, but undeterred, I then moved to Oxford for another 4 years of biochemistry and a Ph.D. (or as they like to say in Oxford, a D. Phil.). Four years of Oxford is certainly enough for anyone, although I did become quite fond of the place, eventually. My advice: visit Port Meadow often and live east of the Magdalen Bridge.
During my Ph.D., I went to a fantastic conference in Den Haag, the Netherlands, where I met my next boss. He emailed me one day and said “would you like to work in Amsterdam for 2 years?”. I said “yes, I would”. So I did. My first postdoc was at Vrije Universiteit, studying the molecular regulation of denitrification. Amsterdam is another of my favourite places in the world.
After 6 years of pretty much the same thing I decided it was time for a big change. I figured a different hemisphere would do the trick, so I applied for a job at UNSW in Sydney and was lucky enough to get it. I spent 6 years there, then 3 years at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, before moving back to Sydney in February 2009 to work for the CSIRO. I left CSIRO in 2015, spent some time working for a healthcare technology startup and most recently (January 2017), joined the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation as a data scientist.
Like many bored bench biologists, my joy of science has been rekindled through computers and bioinformatics. When I’m not working I enjoy being outdoors or underwater, reminding myself that I live in one of the best places on earth and playing with my daughter and son.
1. It was Lancashire then but we claim him for Cumbria.