Jenni Tilley

I answered loads of your questions yesterday but all my answers have disappeared :(

Favourite Thing: Show other people how cool science can be. I love doing cool hands on demonstrations and teaching people new things. Vote for me and I could come to your school and show you some very cool (messy) experiments…



Taunton School (2000-2002)


University of Oxford (Undergraduate Materials Science 2003-2008), University of Sydney (Visiting research student 2007-2008), University of Oxford (DPhil student 2008-2012)

Work History:

Corus Steel (summer placement), Gurit Composites (summer placement), The Cabin Beach Cafe (awesome summer job), Teaching Oxford Undergraduates all about polymers


University of Oxford (still a student)

Current Job:

DPhil student (a DPhil is what Oxford Uni call a PhD)

Me and my work

Investigating the material properties of tendon to help us better understand tendon disease and damage

Tendons connect our muscles to our bones.  They are very strong materials that adapt their environment – the more we use them the stronger they become but if we damage them or don’t use them at all they slowly dissolve away.  They adapt by changing their composition and structure.  This adaptation means that tendons with very small tears in them are able to fix themselves.  However, because this repair happens much more slowly than in bone or muscle, athletes who damage their tendons must take a lot of time off from training while their tendons heal themselves.  Those who don’t risk tearing the tendon further which is bad news: if the tear is too big or the tendon is diseased or has been overused, the tendon may never return to normal without some help from surgeons. 

I am studying the relationship between structure, composition and mechanical properties of tendon, and how disease and damage affect this.  I hope that my experiments will give doctors a better idea of how to fix tendons when they break.

My Typical Day

Sitting in front of some sort of microscope looking at tendon samples or else in a cell culture lab feeding my tendon cells

What I'd do with the money

Invest in design/development of OurLab (a website I’m working on that publishes articles on exiciting science to be read by school children)

Think New Scientist but for school kids instead of adults.

Interesting articles written by all sort of people who use science in their everyday lives – from dairy farmers to neuroscientists! 

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Busy, enthusiastic, multitasker

Who is your favourite singer or band?

anything and everything – Adele is currently on repeat on my ipod!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Can’t decide between jumping out of a plane (to raise money for charity), zorbing down a hill in Dorset, and river surfing in New Zealand.

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

) For my research to work, (2) To get an interesting job when I finish my DPhil, (3) To go live by the sea so I can sail have time to sail

What did you want to be after you left school?

Chemical Engineer (and then I realised I was rubbish at maths)

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes, for putting christmas hats on all the statues and talking to much in class.

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

Travelled to Australia/China/Florida/Barcelona to talk to people about my work

Tell us a joke.

Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says ‘Do you know how to drive this thing?!’