Clare Nevin



Saint Anne’s High School (2001-2009); University of Manchester (2009-2012)


A-levels in Biology (B), English lit. (A), Physics (B); BSc (Hons) Developmental Biology (2.1)

Work History:

Just being a student so far!

Current Job:

PhD student


Manchester Metropolitan University

Me and my work

I investigate how diet, exercise, smoking, weight and environmental toxins affect human sperm function

People lead plastic-packaged, industrially-treated, pollutant-exposed, sugar-loaded, chemically-cleaned, fast food-indulged lives. With fertility in both Western and developing countries decreasing, it is time to look at how our lifestyles and evnironmental exposures could be linked to this trend.

I look at human sperm parameters such as oxidative stress, DNA damage, reactive oxygen species production, motility, morphology and how these can be affected by our lifestyles/environment. Right now I am particularly interested in epigenetics: the regulation of our genes by the environment.

My Typical Day

Running around the labs like a mad woman trying to do too many things at once

I cycle through the madness that is Manchester to University. I meet the sperm donors and go through consent forms for their participation in my study. After they’ve done the business, I do a standard semen analysis looking at motility, morphology and concentration of the sample. Then I can proceed to getting on with the molecular techniques I use such for measuring parameters such as DNA damage and levels of reactive oxygen species or extracting sperm proteins. I spend my time in the lab and the office with other PhD students – they have become like my PhD family.

What I'd do with the money

Secondary school practical class in Developmental Biology.

I’d create a practical class using model organisms to illustrate aspects of developmental biology. For example, simple chick embryo dissection from fertilised eggs to look at vertebrate development. I would like to make the practical class a sustainable one which could be continued in schools without the need of an external advisor. This would involve giving science teachers specific training so that they could continue to run the practical classes themselves for other students.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Inquisitive, fun, feminist.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I’m going to see a DJ called Mr.Scruff this week.

What's your favourite food?

All the cheeses.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Bunjee jumping off Auckland harbour bridge!

What did you want to be after you left school?

Someone with a life plan – which I did not have!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I was a classic chatterbox, so a little.

What was your favourite subject at school?

English literature – love poetry, novels, debate and discussion

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

Be able to define myself as one!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I remember the first time I found out how a hot air balloon worked. Sounds simple but from then on I was amazed that everything has a scientific explanation behind it – and I wanted to know what it was! Understanding evolution was a big part too.

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

A teacher actually.

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

To work in California. To be a better researcher. To make everyone ride bikes instead of driving cars.

Tell us a joke.

Doctor, doctor, why are jokes so Painful? Because of the terrible punchlines

Other stuff

Work photos:

Here’s a photo of some human sperm, typically what I see when doing a semen analysis.