Gemma Marsden

Favourite Thing: Extract DNA!



St Maur’s 1989-1993, Sir William Perkins’ 1993-95, RHUL 1995-98, KCL 2000-2002, University of Leicester 2003-2007


PhD, MSc & BSc

Work History:

The Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Brewing Research International, St George’s Medical School, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, The University of Nottingham and The School of Pharmacy, University of London

Current Job:

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience


The University of Northampton

Me and my work

I manipulate bacterial DNA to see what makes bacteria tick.

I spend my time looking at what makes bacteria bad.  I work on 2 bugs currently Campylobacter jejuni which  can cause poorly tummies from undercooked food  and Clostridium difficile which can cause make people who are in hospital very ill.  Nobody really knows why these bacteria cause so much illness.  I make mutant bacteria to see if it makes them less likely to cause disease.

Fluffy bugs (over a million times actual size)!!: myimage1

At the bench:  myimage2

My Typical Day

I spend time teaching in the lab & lectures but I squeeze as much lab work in as possible

I have 3 different jobs really.  Some of my day is spent teaching undergraduates, this might be in our teaching lab or in a lecture that theatre.  I spend a lot of time in my office doing administrative duties such as looking at attendance and collating information from students.  I try to plan my day so that I can do some lab work which usually involves plating bacteria  and looking at DNA .

My untidy desk myimage3

What I'd do with the money

Use it for outreach activities looking a hygiene, infection control and antibiotic resistance.

I am very passionate about the rising problem of antibiotic resistance and think that we all should know not to take antibiotics for colds, that we should take all of our prescription and also we should make sure we are as hygienic as possible.  I would like to develop outreach events related to this  – maybe on or around European Antibiotc Awareness Day (18th November)

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

tenacious, methodical, precise

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Foo fighters

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Swimming with dolpins

What did you want to be after you left school?

A doctor

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Only with my French teacher

What was your favourite subject at school?

History (!)

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

Presented my work at a conference in Australia

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My biology and chemistry teachers

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

A Speech Therapist

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

More money, more time and to be published in Nature

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a well travelled microbiologist? A man (or woman) of many cultures

Other stuff

Work photos: