Simon the super-scientist

Published on August 30th, 2011
Simon the super-scientist

We chat to Simon Broadley about his fascinating journey in the field of Structural Biology…

What exactly are you studying?
I am currently completing my MSc in Structural Biology.  My thesis is about trying to see how a potential inhibitor (drug) binds to its target (enzyme) and helps to kill the TB bacterium.  The method that I am using to do this is called X-Ray crystallography.

How did you get to where you are now?
After school I decided that I needed to study further, and eventually I decided that studying science is what would blow my mind the most!  So I started my BSc at the University of Cape Town and ended up majoring in Biochemistry and Genetics & Development because it was what I thought was most exciting.  I then completed by BSc Hons in Molecular and Cell Biology, where I was exposed to structural biology properly for the first time.  The things they were doing were so difficult to understand at that time and I felt like it was an awesome challenge!  I approached the professor in charge of Structural Biology at UCT, Prof. Sewell and he let me join his group and offered me a master’s project to investigate with them.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve discovered during your studies?
That everything that happens in the living world can be traced back to a series of simple biochemical reactions that are governed by enzymes…. it blows my mind… speech, movement, growth, everything!

Did you enjoy Maths and Science at school?
I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed Maths particularly, but I worked at it and didn’t do too badly. But Science and Biology were my favourites! Loved them!

What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The worst part is that I have studied towards a particular field for over six years and some days I have to perform experiments that a six-year-old could do.  The best part is that some days I get to perform experiments that only a handful of people in the world understand, and some experiments that no-one has ever tried before! I get to be a pioneer!

If your house was on fire, what’s the one thing you’d save?
My motorbike!

Words of advice to someone who wants to study structural biology?
Make sure you do more Chemistry than I did…it helps!

What’s your motto in life/favourite saying?
“My barn burned down, but now I can see the moon.” – Anonymous

Tell us a joke…
I can see your error bars using google earth! – Vadlo

Why was the sand wet? Because the sea weed… haha!