Eleanor Parker



Newstead Woods School for Girls (1997-2004) University of Leeds (2004-2007) University of Westminster (2007-2011)


PhD in exercise and cellular physiology, BSc in medical sciences, some A-levels, some GCSEs and a phlebotomy certificate which means I can take peoples blood.

Work History:

My first job was in Boots. Since then I’ve worked at a couple of pharma companies, one in London and one in Bergen, Norway and at a University.

Current Job:

My official title is “Post-Doctoral Research Assistant”


Queen Mary University of London and University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur

Me and my work

I take cells from cartilage in the knees of cows and try to find out they recognise and respond to different signals, like what they do when we run up stairs or what happens to them when we get old.

Cartilage is on the ends of all our bones and helps protect them by stopping them banging together at the joints.

Cartilage is made of cells called chondrocytes anddifferent molecules called proteins, which are made by the chondrocytes.

Here is a picture of the chondrocytes in a piece of cartilage myimage1

Chondrocytes are very clever and can sense when we exercise or move. They then make extra proteins to make our cartilage stronger. But chondrocytes are also very delicate and if they are damaged or killed then they do not replace or repair themselves. So when chondrocytes die we have less and less, so we can make less and less proteins and our cartilage becomes weak.

In my work I take chondrocytes from cows knees and put them into a jelly-like substance called agarose. The I squish them and try and find out how they sense when we exercise, how they talk to each other and how they die. Hopefully one day we will find out how to stop them dying and how to replace them.

This is a picture of cows knees and the chondrocytes in agarose and the machine I use to squish them. myimage7


My Typical Day

Taking care of cells, staring down microscopes, cleaning dirty cow legs, drinking tea, running a lot of stairs, turning the numbers from my experiments into pretty graphs and fixing equipment

What I'd do with the money

I think I’d probably use it to arrange for schools to visit working laboratories and see all the cool and different stuff science can do.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Massive sports fan!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Hmmm, at the moment probably Iggy Azalea or Rizzle Kicks. Kelly Clarkson and Green Day are up there with my all time favourites.

What's your favourite food?

Pickled onions (I know it’s weird)!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Being a Games Maker at London 2012 was pretty awesome.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Something in sport or healthcare or with animals

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Only when I was caught….

What was your favourite subject at school?

I loved PE, Biology and Spanish

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

I got to go to Japan for a conference to present my work

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I read it when I was about 9 or 10 and it made me want to learn everything about the natural world and how it all works

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

I’d either be an athlete or run an animal shelter

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

A decent singing voice, a bit more patience and happiness

Tell us a joke.

A drum and a cymbal fell off a cliff….

Other stuff

Work photos:

I work in London at Queen Mary University. myimage8

I spend most of my time in the laboratories doing experiments. myimage9

But sometimes I work at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. It is very beautiful and very hot. When I am there I love to try all the different foods they make there, Kuala Lumpur is famous for it’s amazing food. myimage3

These are the labs I work in when I am there. myimage2

Because I’m a scientist I have gotten to travel to lots of different places to talk about my work. Once I went to Kyoto in Japan which was amazing. myimage4

and last year I went to Philadelphia and New York in the USA. myimage5


Apart from science I also love sport and animals. In 2012 I was a Games Maker at the London Olympics and this summer I will be a Clyde-Sider at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. myimage6