Who’s who ?

March 22, 2011

It has been some time since we posted a blog, so, to keep you all on your toes, we are going behind the scenes to reveal something about the minds that run Pfam… From the longest-serving member to the newest recruit we have elicited a few key facts in the form of answers to some ‘trivial’ questions. Here are two profiles as they were given.  Can you work out who is who?

Here’s the first one:

What turned you on to science in the first place and proteins/RNA in particular?

An interest in all living things

What did you study and where?

Biological Sciences at Lancaster University, followed by a PhD in Molecular Enzymology at the University of Cambridge

Where did you start work, continue studies/work, were you last before joining xfam?

I started work as a research assistant at the Animal Health Trust, before leaving to do my PhD. I then worked at the Department of Veterinary Medicine in Cambridge, before leaving laboratories behind. I spent 9 years as a curator at EBI, firstly in the ENA group and then spending many years in UniProt.

How long have you been with the group?

Three months

Why Xfam?

I have always been interested in proteins, and in finding out more about them.

What is your favourite aspect of  the job?

The detective work involved in trying to discover the function of a protein.

Word or LaTex?

Word

Programming/spoken languages?

Only English

What is your most surprising skill?

When we were thinking of questions for this blog one member of our group suggested the question “Can you shear a sheep”, my reply to this was “No, but I can clip a horse”. We eventually decided a broader question should be “what is you most surprising skill”. So although it is not a particularly surprising skill given my hobby I feel I should list this here.

Favourite music/books/composers?

My favourite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My favourite music depends on what mood I am in. Mostly 70s/80s/90s rock/pop. If I had to make a choice it would be Queen.

Hobbies?

Horse riding, particularly dressage, walking and gardening.

Hates?

Curry!

And the second one:

What turned you on to science in the first place and proteins/RNA in particular?

I was better at science than other subjects so I naturally gravitated into that subject. In terms of proteins I was delighted that one could understand their function in the most detailed way from looking at their structure.  I spent many hours in the university library reading about the amazingly complex yet beautiful structures of proteins.

What did you study and where?

Newcastle University – BSc Biochemistry, Origami and Juggling (the last two were study delay tactics)

Where did you start work, continue studies/work, were you last before joining xfam?

After an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry in Newcastle I realised that experimental biology was not my forte.  But I loved protein structure. So I went to work for my PhD with Cyrus Chothia at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge.  I worked on the evolution, structure and function of the immunoglobulin superfamily.  I got distracted along many different paths including structure prediction with Alexey Murzin.  But my real passion was sequence analysis and the identification of new protein domains.

How long have you been with the group? / Why xfam?

It has been my dream job since I first arrived at the Sanger Centre in 1997 to work as a Post-doc with Richard Durbin in October 1997.

What is your favourite aspect of the job?

I really enjoy the detective work involved in building a new family of protein domains and then deducing the possible function.  It is a real buzz when you finally work out the puzzle!

Word or LaTex?

Word

Programming/spoken languages?

Perl, English

What is your most surprising skill?

Perhaps origami.

Favourite music/books/composers?

In terms of books I like to read biographies of sports people and sci-fi/fantasy fiction. I don’t really listen to music very often.

Hobbies?

I generally like making things.  I have been folding paper for the last twenty years. See examples at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/42673512@N00/sets/72157594493635506/

More recently I’ve taken up woodcarving and started to create some molecular biological models, including DNA and a beta-barrel membrane protein.

Hates?

Not having enough time to do everything I would like to.

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2 Responses to “Who’s who ?”

  1. manuelcorpas Says:

    The second one is Alex!

  2. Paul Says:

    Do I get to guess?


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