East Ardsley Primary School, Woodkirk High School and Durham University 2006-2010
Climbing and activity instructor for scouts, ASDA, University of Glasgow – lab demonstrator and research in theoretical particle physics.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Working out why something isn’t working or how to make it work better.
Climbing, mountain biking, medical physicist with a slight chocolate addidiction!
I’m originally from Leeds but now I live in Watford. When I’m not at work I like climbing and mountain biking. I love going to the hills and also exploring different countries! In the last few years I’ve been to Japan and Malaysia. I’m hoping to go to India for work next year which would be really exciting!
I like reading fantasy books and really loved the Harry Potter books. The Lion King is one of my all time favourite films and Horrible Histories is a great tv show!
I’m terrible at spelling and I’m rather fond of exclamation marks!
Using x-rays to treat cancer
X-rays can be used to see images of the inside of our bodies (like for checking if a bone is broken). If we use much higher energy x-rays they can actually be used to kill cancer, this is called radiotherapy. In my job doctors tell me what they want to treat with the x-rays and I work out how to do this without causing too much damage to the rest of the body.
We use large machines called linacs (linear accelerators) to make the x-rays. Another part of my job is to look after these machines to make sure we can deliver treatment to within millimetres of the intended target.
Whilst x-rays can be used effectively for medical purposes there are some dangers in using them. Part of the role of a medical physicist is to make sure they are used safely.
My Typical Day
My day can vary quite a lot – it’s one of the great things about the job!
Some days I’ll be doing treatment planning. When I do this I get the CT images (pictures) of patients and the doctors draw on the areas they want to be treated and how much dose they want it to receive (how many x-rays it gets). I then use a computer to help me work out the best positions for the x-rays to enter the patient and make sure the dose received by other bits of the body is not too high. I’ll then talk to the doctor about the plan I’ve made once it’s as good as it can be!
When I’m doing quality assurance (QA), I’ll be playing with the machines all day! We do lots of tests on them to make sure everything is working correctly. We also test the individual patient plans to make sure the machines can deliver them correctly.
We also have projects and help bring in new techniques and treatments into the hospital. We’ll often have to solve problems that come up. Every day is a bit different because all our patients are different! I also drink a lot of coffee at work and there is usually cake in the department somewhere! (The NHS is fuelled by cake!)
What I'd do with the prize money
Lego linac videos!
Some friends made a video of the radiotherapy patient pathway (YouTube “Legolas gets radiotherapy”), we’d like to re do this for kids and with the money we could do a whole medical physics series! I’d maybe also get some better props for talks in schools.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Rubbish at this (sort of thing).
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I had to climb on a roof last week to check for x-rays coming from the room below, that was unexpected! I also get to see and play with cool, expensive equipment all the time!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I’ve just always enjoyed solving problems and had great teachers telling me I could do anything!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes but only for silly things like uniform and being late to form!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I can’t imagine doing anything else :/ maybe a chocolate taster that has to cycle everywhere?!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I like lots of rock and folk music!
What's your favourite food?
Curry! And cake, it’s hard not to like cake when your name sounds so similar!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Cycling through France to a scout centre in Switzerland.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
That I could fall asleep quicker, that I owned a castle and that there was a car-free way to cycle to work!
Tell us a joke.
What did the Cheese salesman say? That cheese may be Gouda, but this one is Feta!