Jen Todd Jones

So proud to be voted winner! Thanks to all the participating students for their questions and the rest of the brain scientists who took part :)

Favourite Thing: My favourite things to do in science are performing experiments and talking about it! I love using MRI machines and other technology to read brainwaves to understand how the brain works. While that’s pretty fun, I also like talking about science with students, other researchers, and the Professors around me about science and what we’re discovering about the brain every day.



I went to Treorchy Comprehensive School in South Wales, I studied mostly Theatre and English Literature – I’m still not sure how I ended up as a Scientist! Later I studied at university in North Wales, and now I study at the University of Bristol.


I have an Undergraduate degree in Psychology, and the next level up a Masters degree in Neuropsychology where I studied the brain and brain damage in accidents.

Work History:

I have a long list of pretty random jobs including a fishmongers, a computer technician in New Zealand, and a laboratory worker in a School Science Biology department! I have always liked doing lots of different things and always had a job while I was at school and a student at university.

Current Job:

PhD student


University of Bristol

Me and my work

I study the brain, psychology and language. I perform experiments to try to understand how the brain is different for someone who speaks one language than someone who speaks two or more languages, and even how people with brain damage use language.

My Typical Day

Typically I will spend some time teaching university students, also listening to scientists talk about their work or reading, as well as performing experiments with human participants.

What I'd do with the money

I’d go into schools with brain and neuron models, and activities to record videos of students hearing about the brain to put on the internet for everyone to watch. I’d also like to take experiments and psychological illusions into schools so that students could take part in real science!

I would take video-cameras into schools or science meetings to record children hearing about the brain, then I could use the videos on-line so that other schools across Britain could also watch them. I’d use some of it to buy models of the brain, and also arrange for real human brains to be on display for students to see. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to students in schools already, but it would be nice to have an opportunity to record this for even more students to see.

I’d also use it to fund students coming into the university to watch science in-action by visiting our laboratories and maybe even taking part in experiments. I’d also use some to make cool posters to send out to schools with information students have voted they would most like to see.

I’d also like to give a small amount to Mind charity who help those with mental health difficulties large or small.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, thoughtful and a joker!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Green Day, I’ve loved them since I was twelve years old, it’s been a long time!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I think the most fun thing I’ve done was learning to surf with my friend in Cornwall, it was hard work but I love the sea and I could actually stand up on the surfboard (after four days!!)

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

Wow this is hard! Does wishing for a thousand wishes count? Well, if not then I guess I’d wish for more cool gadgets (I’ve got a house full of wireless speakers and computers and things, I love tech!), more kittens because who wouldn’t, and finally I’d wish for more time to spend every day so I could see more of my friends.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Lots of things – but my best idea was to become a counsellor or therapist for young people, this is why I decided to study Psychology first at university.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I was, mostly for talking in class! I remember that I used to finish my work or get excited about it and start chatting away, I tended to get in trouble for it a lot.

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

I think the coolest thing I’ve ever done as a scientist is help dissect an actual human brain, it was pretty scary but very interesting.

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a group of scientists on the London Underground? A tube of smarties! (Also, with credit to the student who said this in a live chat which I thought was excellent! – Rene Descartes is sitting in a bar, having a drink. The bartender asks him if he would like another. “I think not,” he says, and vanishes in a puff of logic.)

Other stuff

Work photos:

Here’s one of my participants getting into our MRI scanner, we take lots of pictures of their head and piece by piece we build a picture of the whole brain.



And here’s someone recording my brain waves using an electroencephalogram!



Here’s me and the team at Brain Awareness Week March 14th 2013 talking to local school children about the brain – I’m in the middle holding a model of a 13 year old brain!