I attended a Flemish secondary school run by nuns in Belgium and then studied for both my undergrad and PhD at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
I got a BSc in Cell Biology and Pathology, skipped the Masters, and then received a Ph.D. in Radiation Biology.
I have had many jobs, including being a waitress, working behind the bar, and in a bookshop during my studying years. Since my Ph.D. I have worked at the University of Oxford (2 years) and at the Radboud academic hospital in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (3 years).
I work as a researcher in the lab where I tag radioactivity molecules. I then use these to image tumours as the peptides and antibodies bind only to the tumours. The radioactivity that is attached then helps me make a scan (PET and SPECT) with which I can see where the tumour is and if it has spread to other organs.
King’s College London
Favourite thing to do in my job: My favourite thing about science is that I could really make a difference just by being logical and solving puzzles.
I am a biologist and I use radiation to image cancers and arthritis to help with treatment planning.
My Typical Day
My typical day involves a range of things: get up early, commute to work, fall asleep during commute, perform experiments, analyse data, think up the next great experiment, find collaborators, talk to peers, coach students, write papers, speak at conferences, apply for awards, sometimes get awards etc…
What I'd do with the prize money
I would print off big posters of images that we at my department have produced over the years to showcase in the hospital where I work and in schools. This will allow me to start a conversation about the use of radioactivity for imaging with people.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, friendly, and ditsy
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
The best thing I have done so far is to start a clinical trial with patients based on the experimental data I acquired. The trial will start in the next few months in the Netherlands to look at how new blood vessels are formed in patients with head and neck cancer. This process is usually associated with resistance to radiation therapy and thus imaging it might help change the treatment schedules of patients .
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
When I was little I wanted to become a doctor, but then realised as a scientist I could still have an impact on patients and care, just more behind the scenes.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Only sometimes during my teenage rebel years. I mostly studied hard and hung out with friends.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
These days I think that if science does not work out for me I would run a bookshop/cafe.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
My favourite singer at the moment is Iggy Azalea.
What's your favourite food?
My Dutch background has taught me to appreciate deep-fried food like oliebollen (dougnuts). which are sold from stalls at New Year’s only.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Trying to learn how to surf….. I managed to stand up for all of 2 seconds!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
become a lecturer – buy a house – travel the world
Tell us a joke.
This one is my sisters favourite: “What do you call a fish with no ‘eyes’? Fsh”.