Great questions everyone. Well done to Lizzie.
I was a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, before I became a lecturer at Imperial College London, and was promoted to senior lecturer a couple of years ago. Before I started my PhD I worked for a big construction firm during my summer holidays.
Imperial College London
I design and make bones and muscles
I’m a lecturer in structural engineering at Imperial College London. Although people normally think of structural engineers as designing buildings and bridges, me and my research group use the same skills to help us understand how the bones and muscles of the human body work. Bone grows depending on the forces that it is subjected to, for example tennis players have stronger bones in the arm that they play with. We use this information to allow us to predict the structure inside bones. We are now 3D printing our predicted bone structures to see if they behave in the same way as real bone.
My Typical Day
I don’t really have a typical day.
When I’m doing research I work with lots of different people; other engineers, including bioengineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and civil engineers, material scientists, physiotherapists, surgeons, architects. We are all interested in finding out how bones and muscles work in the human body. I might start the day by meeting my research group of PhD students and researchers, followed by either carrying out some computer analysis or an experiment in the laboratory. Both are important to help us understand what is happening. I will often then discuss the projects we are working on with other people who are interested in what we do. At the moment there is a group of architects and structural engineers who I talk to about using what we have learnt in designing and making bones to help make more efficient buildings.
Although I’m based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering I am involved in projects going on in other Departments and research centres. For example a project on prenatal joint development in the womb, with the Department of Bioengineering, a project on lower back pain with the Department of Surgery, and projects on preventing and treating blast injuries in the military with the Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies.
At different times in the year I also lecture on our undergraduate and MSc courses, as well as supervising individual research projects and Group Design Projects.
No day is the same as the last or the next. I like it that way.
What I'd do with the money
Build an online resource for schools.
I run a workshop for the Royal Institution of Great Britain, called “Designing the Hip Joint: Why Don’t We Fall Over When We Stand UP?” I really like working on this with groups of students from schools around London, but we can only see 60 or so students each year, and only from schools in London. I’d use the money to develop some online resources so that any teacher could lead the same workshop. It would be great to allow any school in the UK or abroad to have access to the same material, and encourage anyone interested in engineering.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, Technical, Passionate
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Faithless, the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy, Daft Punk, difficult to pick a favourite…
What's your favourite food?
Can’t go wrong with a good cheeseburger.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Parachute jumping and climbing the Forth Road Bridge
What did you want to be after you left school?
A structural engineer.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A few times, although I only got detention once.
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
When I worked in industry I worked on the Millennium Dome. Now, I I’m proud of everything that we do in research and of the things that our graduates go on to do.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Product designer or computer programmer.
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a gorilla with bananas in their ears? Anything you want, they can’t hear you!
One of our computer models showing different parts of the bone structure which are influcenced by different activities. Red is from walking, orange and yellow from going up and down stairs, and green and blue from sit-to-stand and stand-to-sit.