In the final!!! #VoteDaniel
Genesis Biosciences – R&D Scientist, Jan 2010-October 2013, also Virgin Media – broadband technical support, Nuaire – technical sales advisor, Sports direct sales advisor..
Cardiff University, School of Dentistry
A fun, energetic, science and research-loving geek..and proud!
I was brought up in Newport, South Wales, and went to Lliswerry High School where I completed my GCSE and A-levels (I was head boy during upper sixth form, which was nice!). I then started my undergraduate degree in UWE, Bristol studying Biomedical Sciences. During my degree I moved to Cwmbran with my now wife, and shortly after getting my degree, started working for a biotechnology company. My wife and I started a family and we have two young boys (they’re amazing!). I still live in Cwmbran with my family and study in Cardiff for my PhD.
I really love science, and love talking about it to whoever will listen!! #ProudScienceGeek
Place I’ve been: Boston, USA
Things to do: I love gaming and play guitar in a rock band! ,,/
I look at how bacteria and fungi from the mouth interact, and grow living 3D models of the roof of your mouth in the lab to infect and see what happens!
I am firstly a microbiologist – so I work with bacteria and fungi that are commonly found in peoples mouths (you probably have the ones I work with in your mouth anyway!). I grow these bugs in something called a biofilm, which is an aggregation or collection of the bugs onto a surface, and they produce a protective cover called EPS (if you don’t brush your teeth, you get plaque build up and this is a good example of a biofilm). This makes them much more difficult to treat and remove from a medical point of view.
Biofilms can form not only on teeth, but everywhere. So things like in pipes at home, and other surfaces like baths and sinks. I’m interested in biofilms that form on false teeth (dentures), which include Candida (fungi) and a range of bacteria). We don’t really know how these bugs interact or how do things that lead to infection (called denture stomatitis), so my PhD research is looking at how they interact and result in infection.
The engineering side is tissue engineering – this is biomedical engineering, where I make a living 3D representation of the roof of your mouth, in the lab. I can then grow biofilms on the same material used to make false teeth, and infect the 3D models I grow, and see how the infection happens and how the cells respond. I get a lot of graphs and numbers, but some really cool pictures .
Working in the lab is hard, and sometimes have really long days, but very fun and you also get to travel to conferences – so I’ve been all around the UK, and to Portugal and Boston in the USA (and going to San Francisco at the end of march for another one!).
My Typical Day
Never the same, always interesting and always involves coffee! Feeding cells, growing cells and bugs, infecting tissue models, analysing data!
As I have a young family, I’ll arrive at work about 9:30, and either start by putting some growth media (food for the cells to grow) into the water bath to warm up before I can use it, or start by doing some scientific reading (and ok sometimes Facebook..naughty!).
I’ll begin setting up experiments around mid morning, and break for a coffee, then continue until lunch. After lunch, I tend to do the cell maintenance – so replacing the media to give them fresh food, and the same for my bugs, and start experiments that will run overnight. If I have an infection to do, this is usually done late in the afternoon/evening, so I can come in at a relatively normal time (from about 7am) to collect the infection cells and bugs, and do the analysis. Post-infection, there are a couple of long days where I have a million things to do at once. I’ll leave any time from about 4:30, but then I’ll do some work at home too in the evening when the children are in bed!
What I'd do with the money
Further my STEM ambassador role by taking my own developed microbiology and tissue engineering public engagement activity to schools and science festivals
I have a plan for a microbiology public engagement activity related to my field of interest – biofilms and infections, that I am keen to roll out to the public, particularly children, to encourage science or other STEM subjects for their studies.
My plan is to take a number of work stations to schools, for the pupils to have hands on microbiology experiences – like looking under the microscope at stained bacteria/fungi to see what they look like first hand, taking swabs of their teeth/skin and staining it to see how they look, and whether they can identify the types of microorganisms they’ve found. But also, to encourage and raise awareness of the antimicrobial resistance movement – where the need to discover new antibiotics is ever present, and how people can be better informed on when and how to use antibiotics in their lives. I have a couple of fun group activities they can do too, but need a bit more planning and financial resources to make happen!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, motivated, science-geek!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Blink-182, of Michael Buble!
What's your favourite food?
Lasagne (or a Pizza Hut stuffed crust pepperoni passion pizza!!)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I’m in a rock band, so playing a show at a festival was pretty fun! Life with children is endless fun though!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A few times, but generally did what I was told!
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Making living 3D models of the roof of your mouth..thats pretty cool to see under the microscope
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Well, I’m a biomedical scientist technically, tissue engineering comes under that though! I’d still be involved in the biomedical field somewhere though..or research in industry
Tell us a joke.
Two men walk into a bar, but you’d have thought one of them would have seen it coming! :D