Photo:

Miranda Armstrong

Thanks to all the students for a such a wonderful experience!

Favourite Thing: One of my favourite things is when you first get to see what your results are from an experiment. It’s really exciting to try and work out why the results are the way they are.

My CV

School:

Victoria Primary, South Africa (1990-1993); Victoria Girls’ High, South Africa (1994-1998)

University:

BSc (Human Movement, Computer Science, and Information systems), Rhodes University, South Africa (1999-2001); BSc Honors (Ergonomics), Rhodes University, South Africa (2002); MPhil (Computational Biology), University of Cambridge, UK (2006-2007); PhD (Exercise Physiology), University of Cape Town, South Africa (2003-2009)

Work History:

University of Oxford (2008-2012)

Employer:

University of Oxford

Current Job:

Physical Activity Epidemiologist – I look at how doing exercise and being active may change the chances of people getting ill or injured

Me and my work

I look at how doing exercise and being active may change the chances of people getting ill or injured

We have asked lots and lots of women (over 1 million!) questions on exercise and other activities that they do.  I don’t actually do any experiments in the lab, I mostly use a computer to do calculations. I use my a computer to work out if doing different amounts and types of exercise and other activities changes the chances of people getting ill (for example getting heart disease) or injured (for example breaking a bone).

My Typical Day

At work I write about what I’ve found out from my research, I write and run computer programs, and I meet with other scientists; when I’m not at work I do lots of rowing.

5:30am Wake up, yawn, get dressed for training

6:00am Leave the house to go rowing with my team mates or some other sports training like weights or spinning or the indoor rowing machine

8:15am Cycle back home, shower, breakfast, do a few chores

9:15am Cycle to work

9:30am Check if the computer code that I left to run over night had a mistake and stopped before it finished working out all the answers I wanted it to. It usually does have a mistake so I then have to fix it 🙁

For the rest of the morning I write about what I’ve found out from my research. I also read about what other scientists that look at similar things to me have found in their research. Sometimes I write more computer code and sometimes I have meetings with other scientists to find out what they have been doing.

I usually spend lunch time  with the people that I work with. Sometimes during lunch I go and listen to different scientists giving talks about what they have found in their research.

In the afternoon I do similar things to what I did in the morning

5:30am Cycle to the gym or to the river for some more rowing 🙂

8:00pm Cycle home for a shower and dinner

10:30pm Sleep

 

What I'd do with the money

I used to work on a project in South Africa teaching children about how important it was to keep active so that they could keep their bodies healthy. I would put the money towards that project so that more children could be helped.

I used to work on a project in South Africa teaching children about how important it was to keep active so that they could keep their bodies healthy. I would put the money towards that project so that more children could be helped. Some of the children that I worked with came from very poor areas in South Africa and some had not had anything to eat for a few days because their parents didn’t have enough money for food!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Dedicated, creative, sporty

Would you rather be a scientist or an athlete? And why?

You can’t be both? Just kidding, I’d be a scientist because I still get to play at being an athlete (obviously not a really good one like those on TV!) when I’m not doing science things. [myimage1]

If you could have a body super power, what would it be and why?

I really like making myself and my body to do things that are a challenge and if I had superpowers it would make things less challenging. I’d probably end up being a little bored so I think staying without superpowers is probably what I would prefer…

Which Olympic event would you most like to win? And why?

Rowing. To be good at it you need to be dedicated, strong, and mentally tough which are all things that help you to be successful in life too.

What did you want to be after you left school?

lots of different things: a scientist at a University, an artist, a paramedic, a sports doctor… I’ve managed to get enough of those things into what I do to keep me happy :-)

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I did get detention at school a few times but not too often ;-)

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I got to work with children all over South Africa when I was a student. We did fitness tests with 10000 children and used the results to teach the children and teachers about how important it was to stay active if they wanted to have a healthy body

Tell us a joke.

What is black and white and red all over? A sunburnt zebra