MGC 2005 Leaver

I have vivid memories sat in the Greenslade sit, rifling through university prospectuses not knowing what to do – I had done work experience in hospitals, and decided that studying Medicine was not for me.  I was far too squeamish, and terrified at the thought of catching some deadly disease! I stayed there and began watching a movie where one of the characters was a pharmacologist. Beyond something to do with pharmaceuticals, I had no idea what this job entailed. I left the sit to have a search on my computer (no smartphones in 2003…).

15 years later and I’m now a Lecturer in Neuropharmacology. Pharmacology is the discipline that examines how drugs produce their effects – for example, how does paracetamol work to relieve a headache? I specialise in drugs that act on the brain, hence neuro-pharmacology. I’ve taken a very traditional route to get where I am – I have an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology from UCL, a Master’s in Research Techniques from Imperial College, and a PhD in Neuropharmacology from UCL.

My job entails teaching neuropharmacology to undergraduates, and conducting research in my laboratory. I am interested in understanding how our brain perceives the outside world – when light enters our eyes, or music enters our ears, how is that information sent and coded by our brains to give us the sensations of vision and hearing? And what is happening in our brains in disorders of perception, such as hallucinations perceived by persons with schizophrenia?

Brains are absolutely fascinating, and my job lets me explain to people just how amazing they are, whilst also working in the lab to advance our understanding of how they work. I can’t thank the makers of that movie enough – I should probably start by going back and actually watching it in full.

What does success look like?

Working within a specialty that you love, so it isn’t just a job – it’s your passion.

What is your best piece of advice?

What you do outside the classroom is just as important as what you can achieve inside the classroom. The extracurricular activities I took part in (playing my trumpet in the orchestra and jazz band; in goal on the hockey pitch) equipped me with several transferable skills that I have used to forge a successful career in academia as a neuroscientist.