Ready to answer your questions!
Favourite Thing: Working with wonderful, intelligent animals and watching them develop from timid hoppers to bold fliers.
Toot Hill Secondary School (2002-2007), Toot Hill Sixth Form College (2007-2009), University of Leeds (2009 to present)
BSc Zoology (Hons), MSc Biodiversity and Conservation
Membership Recruiter (Wildlife Trusts), Lab Research Assistant (University of Leeds)
PhD Student in Animal Locomotion
University of Leeds
I’m Alex, a 25 year old PhD student studying animal locomotion, focusing on bird flight!
I’ve been at the University of Leeds for almost 8 years and have spent lots of that time learning about animals and the natural world.
In my spare time I like to write articles for science websites and contribute to blogs. I’m also a board game nut, TV addict and video game fan!
I recently got married to girlfriend and we live together in a tiny flat in Leeds – we’ve been together since I was 14 years old!
I’m working to learn more about how energy is used by birds to fly around their environment.
I’m interested in how animals use the metabolic energy in their food and oxygen they breathe to move, which is called animal locomotion! I mostly work with small parrots such as budgerigars, cockatiels and lovebirds – but I also work with beetles and mice sometimes.
My Typical Day
I’m either training parrots to fly in our wind tunnel, or playing around with tiny little beetle muscles!
My day-to-day routine varies a lot. Some days I might be organising the training of a flock of parrots, and other days I’m measuring the force production of muscle fibres that are thinner than a human hair! My time is split between the bird flight room (where I fly my birds), the lab (where I work with my beetles) and the office (where I write about the science I’ve been doing).
What I'd do with the money
I’d produce a fun card game that can be given to schools to educate about wildlife conservation.
As I said above, I adore board games and have recently taken to designing my own. I’ve found that bioscience-related board games can be a great way of engaging a non-science audience in a particular theme that is both educational and lots of fun!
I feel that by creating a simple but interesting card game that highlights many of the world’s most critically endangered species, as well as their current threats and conservation tools we have at our disposal to help them, we can educate them about and perhaps inspire someone to pursue a career in conservation!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Fun, social, curious.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It depends on my mood! But I always like listening to The Tallest Man on Earth.
What's your favourite food?
Mac & cheese, mmmmmmmm!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I got married last year, being surrounded by all of my favourite people and dancing the night away with my new wife!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Either a biologist or a TV producer.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
A few times, but mostly for serving up justice. When I was 5/6 years old, I bit another kid for refusing to leave the reading corner after reading time was over. Pretty sure that’s how Batman started out too.
What was your favourite subject at school?
It was a split between biology and media studies!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Presented my work to a roomfull of strangers and recieved an award!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
When I was young, I absolutely loved visiting new science and natural history museums, it really got me interested in the world of science.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Probably a science writer, I enjoy contributing articles for websites and blogs during my free time.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
(1) Procrastinate more efficiently. (2) Improve my terrible memory. (3) Spend more time out and about in nature.
Tell us a joke.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity, I’m finding it hard to put down!
Here is a cockatiel flying in the wind-tunnel! We were able to take 3 photos very quickly and lay them over each other, so we can see what the wing is doing during flight!
Here I am in the lab, making up some chemical solutions to do some muscle experiments!
I also sometimes get to go outside into the wild. Here I am holding a Brandt’s bat that we had just caught!
Our lab has lots of cool technology, like this thermal imaging video camera! Smile!