Dan Todd, doctoral student
What is your background?
“Formally, I am a biochemist, I did my undergraduate at Newcastle University. I’ve also been a healthcare worker for the elderly, and an insurance salesman. But informally, I’ve always been a scientist, engineering cells in garages on weekends, cobbling lab equipment together from spare-parts or buying up old lab equipment, figuring out why it didn’t work and fixing it.”
What do you do?
“My main work is in trying to develop a better detection system or a better way of detecting things like virus or bacteria. Specifically talking about DNA of the bacteria, I am trying to come up with something that is more sensitive and faster. I am thinking ahead: What is the next step? What do we not have and why? Why can’t it be done? Related to our project of DNA storage, it is being able to pin down specifically where a piece of DNA is and its location. Where does it occur at any point in time, this would feed into being able to store and retrieve DNA for example. If it moves, then where is it moving. So, my work is centred around being able to actually see the piece of DNA. Most of it is based on how we identify it, is it the correct piece of DNA and is it behaving in a way that we expect. I am predominantly based in a lab, but I do a bit of computational work.”
Why dod you choose this work?
“I suppose on one-level because it’s important and it is poised to be the next big thing, you know. I think it chose me as much as I chose it. This field is in its infancy, there is a lot of potential, which is exciting. It is beginning to grow and there are a lot of unanswered questions. If you want to make a difference in the world, it seems like it is the best place to be.””
What do you like to do in your free time?
“Truthfully, more science. That might sound bad, but my work was my hobby long before it was my job. I do this because I genuinely enjoy it. When I’m not doing that, I suppose I read a lot of comic books”
Ask Dan any questions via our contact page.