Tiffany Taylor

Thanks for saving me again guys! I can't tell you how happy it would make me to see my story made into a book.

Favourite Thing: I study evolution, and to do this I use things which evolve really fast – such as bacteria! Bacteria may sound boring, but when you put them under a microscope, and see them doing something they weren’t able to do before, you kind of feel a sense of power. “I made them do that!” – that’s one of my favourite things about what I do.



Primary School: Burnham county primary school (1990 – 1996) “that makes me feel old!”, Secondary School: St. Peter’s High School (1996 – 2001), Sixth Form: Chelmsford High School for Girls (2001 – 2003), Took a year off to mess about in Central America, University of Edinburgh: Biology Degree (2004 – 2008), University of Oxford: PhD in Evolutionary Biology (2008-2011), University of Reading: Postdoc, looking at the evolution of the genetic code (2011 – now)…


I’ve got 9 GCSEs, 1 AS level, 4 A levels, a biology degree (BSc Hons), and a PhD

Work History:

Before I started work in science I had loads of other jobs! As a waitress, in a post office, and in an office. But since starting my science job I have worked in labs at Universities in Edinburgh, Oxford, and Reading

Current Job:

I work as a postdoctoral research fellow (which is just a fancy way of saying scientist with a PhD) at Reading University


I’m employed by the University of Reading

Me and my work

I’m a code breaker – inside every cell is a code which gives the recipe of life, by changing this code I try to understand how it evolved, and how easily it can change

Evolution is the gradual change of living things over time, and it makes everything that is alive in the entire world better at coping with the challenges of life. When you think of evolution, you might think of stuffy old men, with big grey beards, looking at dusty old fossils and imaging what life might have been like millions of years ago. But in my job, I use things which evolve really fast, which means I don’t have to wait millions of years to see things happen – I can see changes happening over a few weeks!

But I’m not just about the science! I also love playing music (I’m a singer/song writer), writing poems (have a look at what I want to do with the money to find out more), running, cooking, travelling, and sleeping (although sometimes my job steals it from me).

My Typical Day

My typical day would start off in the lab where I would have a look at what my bacteria were up to and write it down, then I would take all my notes to my computer and try and make sense of what they were doing and why – which sounds easier than it is!

My ideal typical day would go something like this – early morning run, arrive in the lab to find my bacteria had done exactly what I was expecting them to do, collect all the results and write it down, realise my results were really exciting and guaranteed to get me a gold star from my boss.


However, my actual typical day goes more like this – sleep through my alarm (and so nearly miss my train), arrive in the lab (which smells pretty bad because of all the bacteria) to find my bacteria have done the complete opposite of what I expected them to do, collect the results and write them down, realise I made a mistake and have to repeat the whole thing again.


And yet I still love science… scientists are nothing special, we’re just paid to be curious.

What I'd do with the money

I would like to turn a story I have written about Evolution into a real book which I can give to local schools to help teach key stage 2 students about how evolution works.

I have written a short poetic story which explains how evolution can turn one kind of animal, into two animals who look very different from each other. If I won the prize money it would go towards making the story into a real book and getting it out to local primary schools.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Short, curious, and musical

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Laura Marling

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Cuddled a cheetah

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

3 wishes?! OK then, I’d want to be able to read people’s minds, travel into space, and I guess happiness is a sensible one (although a marriage proposal from Johnny Depp comes a close second)

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet – but I soon realised I was more interested in finding out how animals worked, rather than fixing them when they were sick.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Occasionally. I wasn’t always great a doing my homework and it got me put into detention a few times. Luckily though I was seen by the teachers as being a “good student” – so I think I got away with more than some! I’m also TERRIBLE at spelling, which got me into trouble with my English teacher a lot. Thank goodness for spell check!

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

Getting a PhD. We had a big party and I made everyone call me Dr. Taylor for about a week. It’s a big achievement and should be celebrated

Tell us a joke.

Two fish in a tank… one says to the other, “you man the gun, I’ll drive”.

Other stuff

Work photos:

The office:



The lab:



The Bacteria: