Sean Murphy

Down to the last two scientists. Vote for me to keep me in the competition!

Favourite Thing: My favorite thing is when I come up with an idea that could help somebody who is very sick. I really enjoy sharing these ideas with other people who are just as passionate as me so we can work as a team to turn the idea into a cure. While this always involves a lot of hard work, when you visit the patients that you have helped, it is the best feeling in the world.



Mandurah High School, Western Australia (1997-2001)


Undergraduate – University of Western Australia (2003-2007), Postgraduate – Monash University, Melbourne, Australia (Ph.D)(2007-2011)

Work History:

Gardener, bricklayer, supermarket shelf stacker, and more recently as a researcher in hospitals in Perth, Melbourne and USA


Wake Forest Inistitute for Regenerative Medicine, North Carolina, U.S.A. (2011-present)

Current Job:

Postdoctoral Scientist

Me and my work

I use a high tech printer to print new skin onto people with burns and injuries to help them recover faster and without scars

When you burn or injure your skin, most of the time you heal normally, sometimes with a small scar. However, when wound covers a large area it may not heal at all, and if it does you will end up with a huge disfiguring scar. I use a printer – very similar to an inkjet printer used in your classroom – to print a layer of new skin onto patients with these large skin wounds and burns.



Here is an early design of the printer we plan to use on patients in the future.


This is a prototype that we are currently experimenting with.


First we use a modified scanner to measure the area that is wounded and program the computer to print new skin on the wounded area.


By printing a patients own skin cells onto their wound,  they will grow back nice normal looking skin that is the same colour and hairiness that they had before their accident. myimage4

We hope using this new high tech printer, patients will leave the hospital looking and feeling as good as new.

My Typical Day

An early start, read some papers over a coffee, a few hours of lab work, lunch/red bull, meetings, visit the hospital, say goodnight to my mice and pigs in the lab, and head home to play some guitar and play with my dog.

The best thing about being a scientist is that there is never a typical day. Every day is something different and most of the time I get to chose what I want to do. I work in the laboratory quite often, playing with the skin printer and and looking after the skin cells that we use in the printer (instead of ink).  Most days I also visit the hospital, where I work with a lot of cool doctors who treat people with severe burns and injuries. Some of these people are in the army, and get injured at war, others are children who have been involved in accidents. It is important to spend time talking to their doctors to ask them how science can help treat these patients.

This is just a picture of me dreaming about winning a Nobel prize one day


What I'd do with the money

I will make an interactive iBook that will be free to download and will teach students about all of the new research and technology that is being used to try and create cures for patients.

Textbooks are usually big, heavy and expensive, and by the time they are in the classroom – out of date.  The iBook is a textbook that will be available to all students for free on their phones, laptops and computers. It is a textbook that is no longer limited to plain text and pictures, rather you will be able to dive into an image with interactive diagrams and videos, rotate 3D objects, and have answers spring to life with animation.


If I win the prize money I will produce an iBook available to all students that will be written by experts in the field to teach students about the new research and technology that is being used to try and create cures for patients. This book will be updated on a regular basis, to keep up with the fast pace of medical research. I will also create the ability for students to make suggestions online and ask questions so that the book can evolve with your knowledge.




My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Determined, Curious, Joker

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Black Keys and Muse

What is the most fun thing you've done?

It would have to be a draw between skydiving and drag-racing

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

I’d wish that there would be no more sickness, no more war, and more wishes!

What did you want to be after you left school?

I really didn’t know. I just kept on working hard at the subjects I enjoyed and ended up enjoying science.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes, all the time. I was a bit of a class clown.

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

A few years ago I visited a couple who were about to have a very sick baby. I helped them collect and store the baby’s stem cells so that they could use them in the future to help the baby stay healthy.

Tell us a joke.

Q. What do you call a Manchester United fan with half a brain?………….A. Gifted