Tom Branson

Had a really good time with all the questions and chats. Hope you guys all enjoyed it too, and maybe learnt something along the way!

Favourite Thing: Learning new things. Doing experiments and finding out something that nobody has ever known before you.



I went Murray Park school in Derby (1998-2003), sixth form at John Port school (2003-2005), then the University of York with a year abroad at the University of Helsinki in Finland (2005-2009) and now I’m at the University of Leeds


A levels: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, History. Masters Degree in Chemistry. Currently doing a PhD in Chemical Biology

Work History:

I worked at a local sweet shop and newsagents when I was at school to save up some money

Current Job:

Studying for a PhD


University of Leeds

Me and my work

I work in a lab, sticking protein toxins together using carbohydrates

I’m in my 8th year at university now, yes that is a lot. But I really enjoy it and it’s been different every year. I don’t have to go to lessons anymore and I’m in charge of my own days and choose when I want to work.

My research is with protein toxins and trying to build clever carbohydrates that can bind to the toxins really strongly. This then stops the toxins from working and prevents you from getting nasty diseases like diarrhea.

Working at a university is quite hard work but really fun. I have a great set of lab mates doing similar work so we all help each other out on different projects and I have a supervisor giving me helpful tips and ideas of how to make my experiments work better.

My Typical Day

I’m usually in the office for a while sorting emails and planning my work, then its into the lab for the experiments!

My time in the lab is very varied. Some days I am creating new DNA and putting it into bacteria. The bacteria then act as a factory making lots of proteins for me to test.

Some days I go to the physics department and use their special atomic force microscope to look at the individual protein structures that I have formed. And other days I make different peptides and carbohydrates in the chemistry lab. I do a bit of all the sciences.

I spend a bit time each day readingĀ  and planning the experiments. I also have to write up the work I do on my computer and create reports so I can tell people about what I’ve found out.

What I'd do with the money

I’d use the money to get school students into a real university lab to try out some cool science

Last year I went into a local school for a few visits to talk to the students about my research and why science is important. I managed to get some of them to come over to see my lab at university and this was a really special experience for them, doing something totally different to the science classes they have at school.

I’d like to do this on a bigger scale getting more students to see what university life is like and how real scientific research is being done. In a few years, they could be the next ones at the cutting edge of science!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Very easily excited

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Reel Big Fish. They’re a ska band with guitars and trumpets, really fun music to jump around to

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I love skiing. Whizzing down mountains covered in soft white stuff is really fun

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

To live somewhere hot and sunny near the sea. Have my own pet elephant. And to be a couple inches taller

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to be an artist for a while or an illustrator, but then decided that I like science more

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes. Generally for not listening

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

I’ve been able to travel quite a bit to present my work at conferences in Germany, France, Holland and in the summer I’m going to the USA

Tell us a joke.

What award did the inventor of the door knocker win? The “no bell” prize

Other stuff

Work photos:

Me at my bench in the lab, yes it is quite a mess…



This is my crazy uni group trying to do the Usain Bolt lightning pose!



The other guys in my office



Me with a poster I presented at a conference in Holland (and I won a prize for it!)



My lab mates Heather and Kat doing some “green chemistry”