I think an introduction is in order

What I do

I’m Dom. I’m currently doing my PhD in Manchester, focusing on a tissue engineering approach to the regeneration of the anterior cruciate ligament. I.e I put cells on different materials and see what happens!

I studied my Undergraduate Masters at The University of Manchester and explored research for bone, nerve, skin and ligament tissue engineering. Through the work I’ve done previously I’ve worked in both academia and industry, however, decided a PhD would equip me well for both and buys me time to decide.
Follow me here for live updates: @3DPhD

OutReach

I think it best to first define OutReach. In its simplest form, OutReach is the communication of a topic (in my case Biology, Tissue Engineering and Materials Engineering) using activities, demonstrations and short talks which cater for a range of different age groups and levels of understanding.

From left to right: Armourers and Brasiers society Family Day Demonstrations, cell culture and a Scanning Electron Micrograph of a canine hip implant.

Throughout my undergraduate degree I got heavily involved with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador programme and The Henry Royce Institute at Manchester University. Although my specialty focuses on biomaterials specifically (materials used in, or or with the body), I worked with a groups of researchers from a variety of materials-based niches to really test my communication skills, but to also learn myself. My passion for science communication hasn’t wavered, but plays a large part of my work in Manchester to date. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at events such as BlueDot, New Scientist Live, British Science Week and the Manchester University Community Science Festival with some of the most inspiring people.

From left to right: Learning about plant biology using art for a local Primary School and demonstrating a Charpy impact testing with chocolate at the New Scientist Live.

The communication of an idea, especially a scientific one, is crucial for us researchers to progress in harmony with society. More often than not society directly benefits from scientific developments; be it technological advancements, a new medical treatment or technique, or even just new knowledge (think Graphene and how exciting that is!). So my statement, rather than a question, for my reasoning behind getting involved with OutReach is:

There’s no benefit to having an idea if you don’t work to effectively communicate it in a way which caters for all.

Cooking

I dedicate a large portion of my free time to cooking. Like, a lot!

I love trialling new methods, techniques and recipes and have found it great fun to try food from different cultures too. After moving into my own house, I made a point of slowly kitting out the kitchen to allow me to explore cooking more. Now, it might seem like a basic amenity to most, but allowing my Kenwood to whip up my egg whites instead of good old fashioned elbow grease and a broken whisk (custom for any student household) has been a life-saver! That said, I still knead my bread dough by hand so I’m not a total dilettante.

Above all, I find cooking helps me to relax and apply my engineering know-how in an environment where more often than not, a mistake will still yield something edible…usually. Donning my apron (not quite the chef hat sort of guy) and keeping a loose recipe in mind I of course make a total mess of the kitchen, but I’m a firm believer of encouraging mess to stem creativity. Which in this case, is kick-ass tasting food!

Home Design Projects

Whilst I hold cooking very close to my heart, I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to get outside and engineer something or repair it. I love to put pencil to paper (never pen, I’m not an amateur) to design something, recreate it using CAD software or even PowerPoint, maybe even throw together a 3D rendition and then put my drill and hammer to work. I’d probably say my eye for detail I owe to my mathematically-minded Father, whilst the artistic flare I’ve inherited from my textiles designer Mother.

From left to right: A bridge between the garden and the riding school for a small tractor and a raised bed for my parents with a brick rim.

More recently in my free time I’ve had great fun designing things on TINKERCAD, an online package for designing objects for 3D printing, or at least renditioning an idea. I’ve worked on my competency primarily with logos and have started stretching my skillset as of late with my rather complex logo.

From top to bottom: the Henry Royce Institute logo design and 3D print, and my 3DPhD logo.

Sport

Sport is very important to me. I grew up playing rugby at the same local club in the South East where both my older brother and sister played, where my dad once played and refed and where everyone knew everyone. I had the pleasure of playing with ex-pats in Hanoi, Vietnam whilst teaching English during my gap year. Don’t worry, I didn’t come home with those colourful, baggy trousers exclaiming I’d found myself! I knew exactly where I was, and that was propping for the Hanoi Dragons Rugby Team in Laos on a sandy field in 40 degree weather and then realising I had the wrong visa to get back home…lol.

For someone who played rugby for pushing 16 years, I wasn’t much for the bravado which is seemingly a typical characteristic of the sport. Where more than at university, so I opted for American Football instead. Not having a clue about the rules, a badge of honour I still hold now, I found my instinct for ‘cheek to cheek’ and ‘eyes through thighs’ a welcomed addition to the University team, the Manchester Tyrants. Having started as a Linebacker some 6.5 years ago, I’m still playing today and enjoy it just as much if not more and have the fortune of playing some 11 positions. Not all at once mind.

My University of Manchester Tyrants American Football Kit

I took rugby up again in February 2020 and have fallen in love with it all over again. Suffice to say Dad is pleased! Joining the team host to my home field for American football, Burnage Rugby Football Club, was an easy decision and for some reason it took me 5.5 years to actually join. I could not have asked for a greater group of players and staff and don’t see myself leaving any time soon as a result.

I think that’s enough for my first post!