Joseph Cook

Can't believe I've won! Thanks to everyone in the zone for making this a great event!

Favourite Thing: I love using the electron microscope to look at the structure of things at really high magnification.



King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, 1994-2001


University of Bristol, MSci in Chemical Physics, 2001-2005, Imperial College London, PhD in Physical Chemistry 2005-2008.

Work History:

Before moving to Reading, I worked at Queen Mary University of London for a year. I helped develop a sensor for detecting gum disease for use at the dentist. When I was a University student I worked most summers at hospitals in my home town of Chelmsford, but I spent one exciting summer working in Norway at a company that produces solar power cells.


University of Reading

Current Job:

I’m currently working as a researcher, investigating a new method for producing hydrogels.

Me and my work

I’m currently working on a new method for synthesising hydrogels that could be useful in things like wound dressings, contact lenses and babies’ nappies.

My boss, Dr. Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy, has developed a new method for producing hydrogels that could have benefits over existing methods. He is applying for a patent so I can’t reveal too much information about what I do! I am employed to investigate the new method and the gels that are produced. We hope that the new gels will be safe and inert so they could be useful for medical applications in things like wound dressings.

My Typical Day

I spend most of my day doing experiments in the laboratory, but I do lots of other things like reading scientific journals, writing reports and going to talks.

As a researcher, most of the work that I do is ‘hands on’ – I run experiments and analyse the results. Most of my current experiments involve synthesising hydrogels and then looking at their properties using equipment such as electron microscopes.

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to use the money to attend a conference so that I can present my work to other scientists.

An important part of scientific research is communicating your work to other scientists. I would like to attend a conference so that I can present some of my own work and also see other people talk about their work.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Logical, realistic and rhythmical.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I like lots of types of music. Some of my favourites are the Shins, Vampire Weekend, Kings of Leon, Jimi Hendrix, Primus, Led Zeppelin, Flight of the Conchords, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers…

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I love playing drums in my band with my 3 friends from Kosovo.

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

I wish I had a table football table in my house so I could play whenever I wanted. I’d quite like to subject some kind of creature to radiation and then get it to bite me in the hope that I’d develop super powers. And I’d like to travel back in time and use my knowledge of the future to conquer the world, although this is perhaps slightly unrealistic.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A research scientist – and that’s what I am!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not seriously, but my PE teacher used to get angry with me for being rubbish at sport.

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

I had a good idea for a new type of display screen, a piece of work that I was fortunate enough to present at a big conference in Boston, USA. I was proud of my work and had a brilliant trip to a fantastic city, and also learned a lot in the process.

Tell us a joke.

What do you call 6.022 x 10^23 avocados? Guacamole.