Alex who?

Portrait

Thanks for visiting my website! I am Alex, 33 years old and I currently live in Sheffield but plan on moving to Manchester in the near future. I have completed my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge in 2016 and have since worked as a Post-Doc and a science writer, and most recently I worked as a technical author. I am now looking for a role in/around Manchester (or remotely) in medical communications.

On this website you'll be able to find information on my educational background as well as work experience and examples of some of the work I carried out for two science societies. I also share a selection of art made in my spare time. On the current page I'll give a more detailed account of my education and experiences since high school.

Undergraduate
and Master's























I became interested in art in my mid-teens when I started to design and make costumes. After graduating high school, I attended art school for a year where I studied fashion design. Although I improved skills in illustration, painting and photography and learned many new skills, I missed studying natural sciences as I very much enjoyed this in high school. I was therefore very excited to be accepted to the Bachelor's programme BioMedical Sciences (BMS) at Utrecht University. Adapting to academic education was challenging after having spent a year painting, drawing and designing, but halfway through the second year of BMS I began to make great headway. By then, I had switched to Amsterdam University (UvA) as I planned to do my Master's there. After obtaining my BSc. in 2009, I enrolled in a two-year Master's programme (Medical Biology) where I obtained most credits through research internships which gave me a lot of experience in cell biology and molecular biology. During this programme, I worked as a teaching assistant on an undergraduate course in early embryology which I combined with a didactic research project to assess the course itself, and I provided suggestions for improvement. I also assessed how a newly-developed 3D computer model could be used during this course. As the final part of my Master's degree I wrote a literature thesis on prion disease and my interest in this topic grew into a fascination!

While a student, I spent a lot of my spare time on artistic pursuits such as designing and making costumes, photography, illustration and I was also involved in the organisation of two art salon/club nights in Amsterdam and Leiden.

Please check out Portfolio > Selection of artwork for some examples.


Research assistant
in Stockholm
After completing my Master's in 2011, I moved to Stockholm to work as a research assistant on chromatin remodelling, a topic related to my second-year Master's project. I also worked on a smaller project on fibromyalgia. During this time I volunteered as an English tutor for the Stockholm Student Union to help students with written and conversational English. As I very much enjoyed science, I decided to pursue further education and applied for PhD positions to work on protein misfolding and aggregation since this particular field studies prion diseases and related disorders. I received several offers and  I decided to move to Cambridge (UK) to join Prof. Christopher Dobson's group in the Department of Chemistry.

PhD research
in Cambridge
In 2012 I moved to Cambridge (UK) to start PhD research on misfolding and aggregation of alpha-synuclein, the protein involved in development of Parkinson's Disease. I learned biochemical and biophysical techniques such as recombinant protein expression (in E. coli) and purification, assays to evaluate the propensity of protein to form aggregates, high-resolution microscopy and techniques to determine secondary structure of protein.

In addition to these experimental techniques, I also learned and improved many other skills:

- Finding, interpreting and organising specialist literature
- Accurate record keeping of experimental details, samples and protocols
- Proofreading
- Writing standard operating procedure compliant with health and safety
- Buying reagents, other consumables and equipment using an on-line procurement   
   application
- Planning experiments and booking shared equipment accordingly
- Data collection, data organisation and data analysis using several software packages
- Preparation of figures of experimental data and concepts
- Preparation of presentations and posters for both specialist audiences as well as a
   general audience
- Writing and preparation of material for conferences and publication
- Presenting my research at international conferences/meetings
- Taking part in group meetings/discussions
- Communication with people from different backgrounds and cultures across different  
   positions in higher education/academia

CU science
societies
During my PhD research, I've been active as commitee member in the Cambridge University Astronomical Society (CUAS) and in the Cambridge University Nanotechnology Society. I had several tasks:

- Designing/updating the society's website
- Designing promotional material
- Updating the society's FaceBook page and event listings on http://talks.cam.ac.uk
- Photographing some of the society's events
- Designing, editing and contributing to the CUAS printed newsletter Neptune
- Input on strategy, and administration

Please go to Portfolio > CU societies page for examples.


Future plans
I am still fascinated by science but wanted to pursue a career outside of academia. I enjoy learning about new discoveries and technologies and to communicate this information in a clear and engaging way: this is the reason I am looking for a new role in content creation. At the moment I am most interested in finding a role as a medical writer, but I am also open to a technical author role provided the product or service is associated with biomedicine/life sciences.

Since graduation I have written content for various outlets; see Portfolio > Writing samples for my freelance/volunteering writing portfolio.

Personality
and interests
I am an outgoing person and I enjoy meeting new people and being able to help others. I work hard and enjoy learning new things. I am also creative and have a wide range of interests such as medical/natural sciences, fashion design, art and music. In my spare time I enjoy artistic pursuits such as illustration, painting, photography, sculpting and pottery. I also enjoy going to museums and galleries, reading, going to the cinema, and hiking.