HIgh School: Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, University: University of Liverpool
GCSEs: Maths, Science, Additional Science, English, German, Art, Music, RE, English Literature. AS Physics. A-Levels: Maths, Further Maths, Human Biology. Bachelor's Degree: Mathematics with Statistics. Masters Degree: Mathematical Sciences. PhD: Applied Mathematics (Mathematical Biology).
Shop assistant, TJ Hughes. Shop assistant, Monsoon Accessorize. Maths Tutor, Tutorful. Outreach Facilitator, University of Liverpool.
PhD Student in Mathematical Biology
University of Liverpool
I'm a PhD student in Mathematical Biology, so I study all kinds of cells and ways in which they move!
I am Marianne, a PhD student at the University of Liverpool, working in Mathematical Biology. This means I use maths to study the world around us and figure out why and how organisms behave the way they do. I live in a little cottage with my scientist boyfriend and we are very keen on growing fruit and vegetables in our garden. I am a keen crafter and I like to make all sorts of things, when I’m not too busy baking delicious cakes and scones or dancing to my favourite music. I can’t wait to get to know some of you through chatting about maths!
How I Use Maths In My Job:
I use lots of different areas of maths in my work. Mainly I use statistics and probability to write equations which tell me how cells move. We can use probability to find out the most likely way for them to move across their environment, and to see how fast they are going to get there. This also involves lots of algebra, careful measuring of movement and time scales and of course lots of interpreting this data and all of the numbers once we get it!
I use mathematical equations to find out how different types of cells move around in their environment.
The focus of my work is to model what we call cell motility. This is just a technical term for ‘how cells move’. This includes how fast they are going, where they are going and how long it takes for them to get to where they are going. I write mathematical equations that are based on probability which can be solved to tell me these interesting things about the cells. I can then go on to make predictions about how other cells might behave in future.
These equations are what we call mathematical models, and they can be written for lots of different things. We are using our models to study the cells in brain tumours and even the tiny bacteria you can find almost anywhere. The bacteria we study have the ability to ‘twiddle’ which means they spend a long time in one spot rotating and sniffing their surroundings to try and find out which direction they should go in to find their food!
The cool part of my work is that I model these cells in 3D in real time. We get live images and videos of cells moving around in 3D, which is only something that has recently become possible, and we try to write mathematics about those images and create our models.
My Typical Day
My day mostly consists of using my computer. I check all of my emails, mark homework for students, and then get on to my maths! I use different programs on my computer to write mathematical equations, often using code to see what they look like and I get lots of numbers and pictures of cell movements. My job then is to interpret these pictures and numbers and see what they tell me about how our cells are moving around.
My typical day:
9:00: Get to work, grab coffee, check my emails!
10:00-12:30: Meetings with my supervisor or other colleagues in the department
12:30-13:30: Lunch time!
13:30-15:00: Working on my research and modelling. Sometimes this is looking at data, sometimes it’s writing about my research, sometimes it is attending seminars or doing training.
15:00-17:00: Teaching duties. I am responsible for helping the university with teaching so I mark homework, create learning resources and answer questions from students.
17:00: Home time
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, enthusiastic, hard-working
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My school maths teacher!
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
I love seeing the golden ratio everywhere in nature and how it is used to make things more aesthetically pleasing without us even knowing. Practical and beautiful!
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
I was good at maths, but didn't really start to love it until i did my A-Levels
What did you want to be after you left school?
A medical statistician
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not very often
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I'd be a dancer!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I was on CBBC once telling a story that I'd written, I even got a goody bag
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To carry on doing a job that I love. To be able to travel around Europe. To get a pet fish!
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the mathematician who's afraid of negative numbers? He'll stop at nothing to avoid them!