Thanks for the questions, break a leg Nancy Emma and Andrew
Aston University 1986, Open University 1996, University of Manchester 1999, University of Manchester 2012
BSc(Hons) Ophthalmic Optics 1986, Dip Optometry 1987, BA Mathematics 1994. MSc Ophthalmology & Vision Science 1999, PhD Neuroscience 2012
I started my career as an ophthalmic optician, testing eyes, dispensing spectacles and contact lenses.
I am a research associate funded by an NIHR i4i award investigating the usefulness of measuring vision in low light to assess diseases of ageing in the eye
The University of Manchester
Favourite thing to do in my job: I love to analyse my data, learn new mathematical methods and draw figures and graphs to explain my findings.
I investigate how humans see in the dark and when dazzled by bright lights.
My work has several different strands. My main work is developing a device that measure how well people adapt to a dark environment. This work will tell us lots about the health of the eye before there is any loss of sight. It will also help in the development of treatments for age related eye disease. This work includes a clinical trial to evaluate the device we are developing and this means quite a lot of paperwork and meetings. I will be recruiting participants for this study in two months (fingers crossed).
I also investigate other aspects of vision. I have worked on how well people see when they are dazzled, and have made mathematical models of how changing a light alters how we perceive a colour under that light. I have created software to analyse the flow of tears under contact lenses, the flow of liquids/tears over a contact lens and the interaction between the surface of a contact lens and the air.
My MSc project was concerned with the production and sequence of proteins used as the eye heals following surgery.
My Typical Day
A brief meeting first thing to set priorities for the day, see what has been done and what needs to be done.
After an initial meeting I usually attend to those things highlighted in the meeting. The things I usually do are as follows
a new paper or a review of one that we have submitted
the documentation so that we can get ethical approval for any experiments we carry out on people
reports to funding bodies or industrial collaborators
presentation or lecture
finance – time sheets
purchasing – equipment
obtain regulator permission to use devices we build in human experiments
think of experiments
build the apparatus
write software to control the new apparatus
write software to analyse data I have collected
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d like to build something to show how we interpret colours.
We tend to have a fairly constant sense of what colour objects are even when the light shining on them is very red or blue. If we can only see in a closed area then we are quite good at ignoring the bias the coloured light introduces, but if we have another region to compare this ability breaks down. Peeking through a keyhole its very hard to tell what colour the light in the room is, but if we look in from outside the colour of the lighting is easy to see.
I would use a dolls house to show what effect different coloured lights have on the colours we seen inside the house.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
geek, creative, quiet
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Found a new application of a mathematical technique that shortens the time we need to get the information we want about someones eyesight
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Popularisers of science, Ian Stewart, Carl Sagan, Desmond Morris, and a desire to understand my pet chickens and dog.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I did get into trouble at infant school, for digging up and throwing tulip bulbs over the fence.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
An optometrist, but would rather be a chicken farmer or a house builder.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Camping in a campervan, in the Arctic circle, the Balkans, the Baltic, Russia and the Alps
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
More work as enjoyable as this job. A unimog 404 and somewhere to drive it.
Tell us a joke.
I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned