Judith McCann

Last web chat done *sniffles*, got plenty of time now to freak out about evictions (and I should probably do some work :p)

Favourite Thing: I like planning and running experiments, the results are hardly ever what I expect but half the fun is finding out why. Also freezing things in liquid Nitrogen and smashing them.



Bishop Rawstorne, 1999-2004. Runshaw College, 2004-2006


University of Manchester 2006-2010

Work History:

I’ve had a lot of jobs in college and university in shops, restaurants, pubs etc. Since starting a PhD, I’ve had the chance to teach younger students.


University of Manchester

Current Job:

PhD student

Me and my work

I am trying to create a material whose properties change depending on the environment it is in; specifically, inside the body.

I work in biomaterials, in polymers, which is basically altering materials to suit the conditions inside the body and replace damaged tissue. The aim of my work is to make a material which has properties that are altered when it is put inside the body.

We are trying to make a liquid that will turn into a solid (gel) when there are enzymes present. Enzymes break down specific proteins in the body,  but this means they are also specific to certain diseases.  By changing the form of the material it could be a bandage while the body heals itself or it could release a drug to treat the disease.

My Typical Day

On a normal day I’m either preparing a new material or looking into the properties of things I’ve already made

I spend a lot of time making new materials and sorting out what I’ve made. I get to use different characterisation methods to find out how strong my polymers are, how they behave, if they react to changes in environment and what they look like under microscopes.

The polymers I work with are collapsed balls of chains entangled together  and they way they change propeties is that something triggers them to swell with water, making them solid and strong gels. In our research group we can make this happen with time, temperature changes, changes in acidity or alkalinity, and my part of the project is trying to make this happen when enzymes are present.

What I'd do with the money

I would love to put it towards a science fair at my old school

I’d like to see what ideas the students can come up with and what ways they can find to communicate their ideas of what interesting science is to them.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Approachable, Assertive, Honest

Who is your favourite singer or band?

At the moment, Jessie J

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Before coming to university I went to leeds festival with a big group of friends, the music and atmosphere were amazing.

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

1) that me and my family could be happy, healthy and successful, 2) to get my work published and recognised and 3) pet Liger!(lion/tiger cross)

What did you want to be after you left school?

I think something to do with Law. In school I was interested in Art and Maths bizarrely, but I’m glad I’ve ended up where I have!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Sometimes, but mostly over homework and uniform.

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

Not been sciencing long, but going to conferences and showing our work to people who do similar things is amazing, getting feedback from people who have been doing it (alot) longer than me is great.

Tell us a joke.

What’s the difference between Chemistry and cooking? In Chemistry, you should never lick the spoon.