What motivated you to come to Bristol and do this programme?
The school has a world-class reputation for epidemiology research, and an excellent track record for the development of novel, high-throughput assays for measuring quantitative genetic traits. It's a friendly and supportive department, a great strength being the variety of academics who work here: clinicians, statisticians, basic scientists, bioinformaticians and economists, to name but a selection. The successes of the ALSPAC study (based in the school) make it a really inspiring place to be.
What is the key research question of your PhD research project and what have you found out so far?
Telomeres, repetitive regions of DNA located at the ends of chromosomes, shorten with cell division, eventually to such an extent that the cell in question either dies (apoptosis), or its growth arrests irreversibly (senescence). I spend about half of my time in the lab, where my research concerns the development of pre-existing methods to enable standardised measurement of telomere length on a population scale. Outside of the lab, I am examining the relationship between telomere length and mitochondrial DNA copy number, and the association of these traits with inflammation and age-related diseases.
Where do you think your research could lead and what are your future career plans now?
I love science, and would feel privileged to be able to stay in academia after finishing my PhD. I also enjoy teaching, and ultimately, I hope to lecture alongside my research, as well as continue my interest in science-writing and communication. Although I have a while to decide, I think I'd like to apply for a fellowship after finishing my PhD, and would consider spending some time abroad, perhaps in France, where I've studied previously, or even further afield.