Loren Macdonald

Cannot believe I won

Favourite Thing: Experiments! I know it’s the obvious answer, but when you’re doing something that’s never been done before and you get an exciting result, it’s amazing. Being the first person in the world to have ever done something or seen something- you can’t beat it!



Ashcroft High, Luton (2002-2007), Luton Sixth Form College (2007-2009), Newcastle University (2009-2012, 2012-2015)


Human Genetics BSc (Hons) (2012)

Work History:

Tesco, Newcastle Airport bar, Pubs

Current Job:

PhD Student- which means I will be called Doctor Macdonald in a few years if all goes well!


Newcastle University

Me and my work

I look at protein synthesis machinery and how this relates to cancer.

I’m 23 years old and set to get married in December! I have a pet chipmunk who is awesome!

My work involves looking at how cancer, and many other diseases, can be caused by defects in the molecular machines in our cells that make our proteins. So, we have these amazing protein complexes called Ribosomes that turn our genetic material into proteins. When these aren’t working properly, some parts of the ribosome break off and interact with other proteins in the cells and can cause all manner of problems!

My Typical Day

Lots of looking after cells! And a bit of playing with proteins.

I work mostly on human cells, so a typical day for me starts at 8am where I warm up my media (what the cells grow in- full of all the things they need to grow happily) so that the cells don’t get too cold! I then have to make sure my cells aren’t getting too crowded in the flask- and if they are, I have to dilute them so that they are happy. I can then use the cells to look at the proteins I’m interested in. I do lots of playing with proteins and genetic material! I also use radioactivity to label my cells and do some cool things. It sounds pretty scary- but it’s all perfectly safe!

I also look after students. We get various students throughout the year and it’s the job of the PhD students to teach them how to work in the lab and help them develop their own projects.

What I'd do with the money

Funding our Student outreach program

Our institute at the university does a wide range of workshops and has a engagement with school children program. I would like to use the money to allow more events to happen and to carry out some new and interesting things with the students. I’ve not yet been able to get involved with it much, so this would be a great opportunity as I’d like to engage with the scientists of the future.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Dedicated, enthusiastic, friendly

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Snow Patrol

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

I went to to New York with sixth form- it was amazing! Nothing educational at all- but we pretended!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A forensic scentist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really, I hated sports so got in trouble for avoiding P.E. a lot… but I was pretty good really.

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

Attended a conference- it’s wonderful to talk to loads of people that care about what you do.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My chemistry teacher in sixth form, I wanted to be a doctor before that.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Maybe a vet or something related? I love animals.

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

To be more confident, to do well in my PhD and, I guess, to find myself a good job after!

Tell us a joke.

A joke? I really can’t think of any!

Other stuff

Work photos:


My lab bench (on a good day-currently it’s a mess of experiment debris)


My cells. I lovingly look after them every day. They are grown in those flasks in the red media. It’s really handy because if they get sick from a bacterial infection- the media changes colour. Science is just cool like that!


We like a good student hang-out in our office every now and then for tea and biscuits (I’m on the left in the checked shirt). It’s cramped but it’s cosy!


My chipmunk! I think he’s cool cause he’s a great example of recessive inheritance. Both of his parents had brown fur, as did most of his brothers and sisters.