Natalie Stanford

Favourite Thing: I like to ask lots of questions. The harder they are to answer the more interesting they are to answer!

Me and my work

I make computerised versions of cells.

In particular I make computerised versions of the metabolism in cells.  The metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that happen inside the cell, these help it to stay alive and grow.

This can help us in two ways.  The first is Biotechnology.  It’s a long word but it means technology that uses living systems.  Some of the chemicals that are made in the metabolism can be used as fuels.  We all know that coal, gas and oil will run out soon, and we want to replace them with fuels that we can make as quickly as they are demanded.  By understanding how the chemical reactions in the metabolism work we can hopefully re-wire the network, in a similar way as to how you would change an electrical circuit, so we can make lots of the chemical we want.

The second use is in disease.  Lots of health problems at the moment, such as diabetes and obesity are known as metabolic diseases.  By understanding more about the metabolism we can begin to understand more about how these diseases affect us, and maybe even how we can cure them.

My Typical Day

run, research, eat, sleep, repeat!

I like to have really full days.  My favourite thing to do in the morning is to go running.  After this I head into work to start some research.  Because I’m doing a PhD I have a to write a really big report at the end so in the morning I do a lot of reading and writing.  Mid morning and into the afternoon I usually collect lots of data from the computer cells I make and then analyse it.  This data helps to tell me how the cells work, or at least how I think they may work.  After work I either meet up with friends, go out climbing, or do some reading.  Then I sleep and start the whole process over again 🙂

What I'd do with the money

I want to hold something similar to “I’m a scientist” but in person. Me and my work friends organise a journal club. This is where we all get together once a month and informally discuss new research that is happening in science. Not only is this lots of fun, but it makes difficult things easier to understand and we also to get some great new ideas for work. By using popular science articles from magazines such as ‘focus’ and ‘New Scientist’ (give them a read they’re brilliant) we want to open up our journal club to anyone who is interested. I’d also put some of it towards a conference that I want to go to later in the year. Hopefully I will be able to present some of my research there.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?


Who is your favourite singer or band?

oooo, so many, I like lots of different types of music but mainly Metallica, Foo Fighters and Brand New (you tube them if you haven’t heard them!)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Skiing. I’ve only done it once, but I want to do it again so much!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) Have an interesting Career 2) To travel around Europe and New Zealand 3) Go bungee jumping

What did you want to be after you left school?

A teacher – still haven’t decided completely against it!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Quite a lot. I was very disorganised and bit restless in all my lessons. To this day I still can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Probably all the travelling to conferences and presenting my work. I love to show people what I’ve been up to! I’ve laso met some great people form around the world at these events.

Tell us a joke.

Two monkeys get in the bath together.. First monkey goes “oo oo ahh ooo ahh ooo ahhh” Second monkey goes “Put some more cold water in if it’s too hot!”