Lena Ciric

Favourite Thing: I feel really lucky to be paid to spend my time finding out about the world around us. The best thing is getting others excited about science, too.



Europen School, Oxfordshire (1991-1997)


BA from the University of Oxford (1997-2000); PhD from Napier University, Edinburgh (2002-2006)

Work History:

I’ve worked at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology – Oxford, King’s College London and University College London


University College London

Current Job:

I’m a postdoctoral researcher.

Me and my work

I fiddle with the genes of different bacteria to find out how they interact with each other and the human body.

Rather than using conventional methods to study bacteria, like growing them, I look at their DNA to see how they interact with one another and the world around them. I also look at the genes that some bacteria have that make them resistant to antibiotics, like the ones in MRSA. These genes can often move from one type of bacteria to another so it’s really important to know how they work.

My Typical Day

My days are quite varied, but I spend most of my time in the lab carrying out experiments on my bacteria.

This generally involves growing the bacteria, taking out their DNA and then manipulating it in various ways. But I also spend time analysing the results of my experiments, writing up my studies, reading about other people’s studies, going to conferences in exotic locations, supervising students and fielding lots of e-mails.

What I'd do with the money

I’d buy a microscope with a camera that I’d take to schools to show students the various bacteria that live in and around us.

Billions of bacteria live in and around the human body. Not only are there lots of them but there are also many different kinds. I’d like take these bacteria on a roadshow to schools around the country. I would take students on a journey around the human body and show them the different types of bacteria living there. To be able to do this I would use a microscope with a camera connected to a projector so that I can show students different bacteria, good and bad. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colours!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, organised, always laughing.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

It changes all the time! At the moment it’s SBTRKT, Lana Del Rey and Depeche Mode.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

The best fun I’ve had has been when spending time with my friends – wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.

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

1- That me and my loved ones stay happy and healthy (is that more than one?). 2 – That I get awarded a fellowship this year. 3 – That I win IAS!

What did you want to be after you left school?

It changed a few times. I started off wanting to be an artist, then an architect and then finally decided on scientist.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I mostly got in touble for talking. I had to conjugate the verb “apercevoir” ten times in six tenses as punishment for laughing in French once.

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

I found a new gene that makes bacteria resistant to antiseptics.

Tell us a joke.

Oh no! I’m really bad with jokes – they go in one ear and out the other. Sorry…