Michelle Murphy

oh well - its been fun keep voting for your favourite scientist (good luck guys)!

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do is to come up with new experiments and plan all the little details of how I would do them. I was always the nosey kid asking why…why…but why (I must have driven my family crazy) and not much has changed. I like to know how things work the way they do and why not by some other way. A good experiment must answer a question which would be beneficial to know the answer to and ideally it shouldn’t have been done before. I love the idea of doing something completely new.



St vincents secondary school, Ireland, 1997-2003


University of Aberdeen, BSc Animal Science Hons, 2003-2007

Work History:

I have done lots of part time jobs such as working in supermarkets and childminding while I was at uni. I got my first science related job in my final year at uni when I was a research assistant in one of the university labs.


University of Nottingham

Current Job:

PhD Bioscience/Neuroscience

Me and my work

I try to make connections between what we eat (how fat we are) and hormones in our brain.

Obesity is a popular word these days. It is a big problem without a big solution. My work aims to find an explaination for why some people get fat and some don’t. What happens to our brain that allows us to put on weight that is doing our body more damage then good. Usually our brains help control how much we eat by monitoring signals from our stomach which tell what and how much we have eaten and replys by telling our stomach if it needs to have more food or not, leaving us feeling full or hungry. The brain also gets signals from all our fat cells to say how much energy we have in store and regulates this carefully. Something must happen to the brain to then let some people have more fat then others. I am trying to find out what this something is and how it works.

My Typical Day

emails, lab, writing, home, run

I generally start the day by checking my emails and checking my diary to see what needs to be done. I will then go to the lab (I only feel like a real scientist when I am kited out in a lab coat) and run an experiment. This might be doing some immunohistochemistry, where I stain cells in slices of brain to see what chemicals are there or if the cells were young cells after dividing. Recently I’ve been doing bomb calorimetry, creating little explosions in a piece of equipment known as a bomb to measure how much heat is created this tells me how many calories (how much energy) there is in things. I work in a medical school so sometimes I help the junior doctors with experiments or supervise their exams to make sure they dont cheat. I will then write up what I found (simular to you do at school) and make a plan for the next day. It is then home time. In the evenings I will cook dinner, read a book (tends to be fiction), watch a movie or go for a run (this always means listening to some really loud music- I am starting to think my legs won’t work without seriously cheesy music).

What I'd do with the money

spend it carefully :P

I am currently thinking carefully about this – so many options. Perhaps run a competition in a local school for a chance to work with me in the lab over summer or run a science fayre or an open day or run a trip to a science museum or something completely different.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

energetic, organised, curious.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I like anything I can play very loudly and sing along to.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I love being outdoors and although this may not be wild and unusual, my favourite thing to do is to visit the zoo. I particularly like the penguin parade they do at Edinburgh zoo when they let the penguins wander around the paths of the zoo.

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

healthy family and friends would have to be the first. Second, to always have a job I enjoy. I am very lucky to have a job I am interested in and want to do and hope I will never have to get up and go to work just to pay the bills and not enjoy what I am doing. Third…emmm this is where it gets tough I’m going to have to think about this one for a while. I’ll get back to you.

What did you want to be after you left school?

When I was very small I wanted to be the person who turned the stars on at night then a few years later and more realistically I wanted to be a vet.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I was very quiet at school. I only remember getting in trouble once and that was for wearing nail polish (I went to a strict school).

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

I made silage at school it stank and the next week we made yogurt and it stank too. I think they were my favourite experiments at school. Messy and good fun! I remember doing these experiments and recently I helped run some experiments at a school In Wales and that was pretty cool to be teaching rather than doing.

Tell us a joke.

What does a brain do when it sees a friend across the street? …… Gives a brain wave