Name of MRC-funded unit/centre/institute
MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling
Imperial College London
The University of Oxford 2013 - 2015 (incomplete) , The University of Bath 2009 - 2009, Bilborough College sixth form 2007-2009, Michael House School 2003-2007
Bsc Biology, A levels in Maths, Physics and Biology, AS level Music Technology. GCSEs in Maths, English, English Literature, Double Science, French and German
Research Assistant - Imperial College London 2015 - present, Juggling and Circus skills Teacher - 2013, Laboratory technician in Zambia 2011-2012, Chocolatier (also washing up) - All Things Chocolate 2007.
I'm write computer code to answer questions about how much disease there is in a population
Favourite thing to do in my job: Writing computer code to solve problems and answer questions.
Friendly scientist, juggler and cricketer - I like to solve problems at work and hang out with friends and family in my spare time.
I’m Leo, a 26 year old scientist living in London.
Interests (outside of science!)
I do a lot of juggling and circus related things, I go to two juggling clubs where I hang out with other keen jugglers, diabolists, unicyclists. They’re very casual social events, but I try to work to improve and learn a new trick every now and then.
I’m also a big cricket fan, I like to go and watch games during the summer and also play as part of a team. We all admit we’re not actually very good at cricket, but we’re all enthusiastic and have fun anyway. We play friendly matches against other teams around London – most of which we lose – but it’s the taking part that counts right?
The rest of my time I spend watching TV, movies, listening to music, reading and most importantly spending time with friends and family.
I use maths to understand how diseases spread from person to person.
Infectious diseases, or “bugs” spread from person to person (like the common cold). Often when one person gets a bug and gets ill, some of their friends and family get sick too. Scientists like myself try to find mathematical equations to work out how many people will get sick and how quickly a bug will spread. This helps to find ways to stop bugs from spreading and preventing people from getting sick.
My Typical Day
Reading the latest science news, then working on some coding problems and sometimes writing up my work.
I often start the day by reading some of the latest science news and research. I’ll then make a cup of tea and make a plan for the rest of the day.
Coding – My work is almost all done on a computer. This normally involves making some changes to the computer code that I use to answer my research questions. Often when programming, I’ll have made some mistakes (this is really common!) so the program produces some strange results and I’ll have to try to figure out where the mistake in the code is. Sometimes this can be easy but occasionally it’s painfully slow! When things are working properly I’ll get the results of my work and try to make them easy to understand so I’ll make graphs and charts to help explain my work to other people.
Writing – In my job it’s important to publish your work in scientific journals so that other people can read about your research. This can help other scientists with their own research. I’ll spend some of my time writing my work, getting it ready to send to a scientific journal, trying to make sure that it’s clear and easy to understand.
Presenting – Sometime I’ll go to a meeting to present my work to other scientists. Before the meeting I’ll spend some time making a presentation in Powerpoint, and practice saying the presentation out loud to make sure I can explain everything easily.
What I'd do with the prize money
I'd design games to teach people about how infectious diseases spread.
I study how infectious diseases and I think it’s super important for as many people as possible to understand how these diseases spread from person to person among the population. I think playing games and being actively involved can be a great way to learn about things. That’s why I’d design games that can help to explain how diseases can spread within a population.
I want to design a game for a large number of people in which a “disease” spreads within the group you “infect” your friends (and teachers!).
How will the costs break down (estimates)
£200 – fees for game designers
I study diseases for a living, but I’m not an expert at designing games so I’d pay some game designers to help me. Hopefully the team of professional scientist + professional game designer will make the games as fun and interesting as possible.
£150 – costs for making the games
I’m hoping to keep the equipment costs as low as possible.
£150 – transport costs
I want this game to be played in as many schools as possible so I’d use some of the money for transport costs to travel to different schools around the country.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly juggling scientist
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Last year I went to a meeting in South Africa presenting my work to scientists from lots of different countries.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
No one person or event really, it was a slow process. I was interested in science at school, went on to study at university, I later decided to focus on infectious diseases as there is potential to have a positive impact on people's health and finally decided to go for computer-based research as it's what I think I'm best at.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a chocolatier (which I was very briefly!)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Occasionally, but I was mostly pretty well behaved.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Teaching juggling and circus skills
Who is your favourite singer or band?
So many choices, maybe the Cat Empire or the Gaslight Anthem
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
hmm tricky question! Snorkelling with tropical fish was pretty great.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Make a positive contribution to the world, to spend lots of time with close friends and family, to stay healthy!
Tell us a joke.
I have two goldish, I called them One and Two, so that if One dies I still have Two left.