BSc and MSc at the Univ. of Barcelona. Phd at the Univ. of Sussex.
My first jobs were as a shop attendant and waiter when I was studying. I also worked as a carpenter, in a call center, as an intern in a library. My first "maths" job was as a maths tutor for engineering students. I then worked as an assistant researcher in Germany, and I moved to the UK to do my PhD. I am currently a Research Fellow ("a postdoc") at the University of Sussex.
Research Fellow (postdoc) at the University of Sussex.
I work at the Genome Damage and Stability Centre (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/gdsc/) at the University of Sussex (https://www.sussex.ac.uk).
I am passionate about maths and its applications. In my free time I walk to the South Downs and think about maths!
I live in Lewes, near Brighton. In my free time I like to walk in the South Downs. I love reading, from crime novels to science fiction. The last book I read was The girl in the spider web. I think about maths all the time: I often find interesting math problems when doing everyday things, from looking at the apple tree in my garden to reading about the latest COVID data!
How I Use Maths In My Job:
I use mathematical modelling and statistics to understand the basic mechanisms of DNA replication. In order to understand this process, I use probabilities, percentages and statistics. The DNA replication process is controlled by random events, and I look at the probabilities of these events to understand what percentage of the cell population does replication in a certain way, or what is the mean result of the process.
I investigate the basic mechanisms of DNA replication using mathematical and statistical models.
My main job is to study DNA replication using mathematical modelling. DNA replication is the process by which DNA is copied in the cells. It is a very complex process, with a striking feature: it is governed by very random processes, and yet it happens it a very uniform, regular manner in all cells. My goal is to understand how this happens.
I develop mathematical models—sets of equations that tell us what we expect to see in the experiments—and I compare the results of the models with the experimental data. I do not do experiments myself, by the lab is literally 5 steps away from my desk. It is very important for me to understand how the experiments are performed, because this allows me to really understand the data! Here are a couple of pictures so you can get an idea on what the data I work with looks like!
My Typical Day
I get to work at 7:30am, and start the day with some hard piece of work. In the afternoon I look at my emails and attend meetings. I leave work at around 5pm.
On a typical day I will go to the office at 7:30am. I try to start my day with some difficult piece of work, for instance trying to find new ways to solve a problem or figuring out how to analyse some new experimental data. About half of the time I work with pen and paper, working some equations for example, and the rest of the time I use my computer. I avoid distractions during the first hours of my workday: no phone, no emails.
If I do not have any meetings, I usually keep working until lunchtime, and in the afternoon I do some light work: reading, paperwork and emails.
A couple of days a week I start my day writing. Writing is hard work, even when you know what do you want to write! Since the lockdown, almost all the meetings and seminars are online. A few times a week I attend such online events, but I am trying to be selective: it is very easy now to fill your schedule with online talks.
I usually go home at arount 5pm, but it depends on the day. If I am “inspired” I stay longer in the office.
You can see a picture of my desk. It is a little bit messy, but the reason is that I cleaned up a few days ago, otherwise it would be *very* messy! You can see the basic tools of my trade: a notebook, a computer, and a nerdy mug.
What I'd do with the prize money
I would use the money to deliver an outreach activity to understand DNA replication!
DNA replication is the main topic of my work, and it is a critical process in any living organism. The way we study DNA replication requires a range of mathematical tools. I would like to prepare an outreach activity for schools in order to explain how we observe DNA replication in the lab, and how we use mathematics to understand the experiments! I would use the money to prepare the activity and buy the necessary materials.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Understanding how maths underpins all science.
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
Ever watched a video on Youtube? There are very interesting maths behind streaming videos!
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
I was good at maths but I found them boring!
What did you want to be after you left school?
An engineer. I actually started a degree in engineering before changing to maths!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Still something with maths. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Fried eggs with rice
What is the most fun thing you've done?
A safari in Tanzania (after a maths conference!)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Time, time and time: more time to travel, more time to explore new ideas, and more time for me!
Tell us a joke.
When you keep missing math class it starts to really add up.