Jen Machin

Thanks for asking all your questions everyone :) I had great fun!

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing is finding out new things which help you understand how something works, or makes you think ‘wow!’



Central Newcastle High School 1998 – 2004, Sunderland University 2006 – 2009, Northumbria University 2012 – 2013, Durham University 2013 – 2014,


A Levels (English Language, Psychology and Physics), BSc (Hons) Psychology, Primary Postgraduate Certificate in Education, MSc Cognitive Neuroscience

Work History:

In between my undergraduate degree and my PGCE I worked as a support worker for stroke patients, and a teaching assistant in a local primary school.

Current Job:

I’m a first year PhD student.


Newcastle University

Me and my work

I’m trying to find out more about how young children learn, and how they remember things from their past and imagine what will happen in the future. This is called mental time travel!

If you think back to when you were a baby, you probably can’t remember much until you were about 5 years old. It’s important that we remember things about what has already happen to us, because we can use this information to predict what will happen in the future. For example, if I touched something hot and burnt my hand, I would need to remember what happened so that I didn’t do the same thing again! This ability to think about our past or predict what will happen to us in the future is called mental time travel… so technically we are all time travellers! Between the age of 3 and 5, children develop this ability for mental time travel, and I am trying to learn about whether this is linked to the way they learn from others, since this also changes around that age.

My Typical Day

Every day is different – I could be reading lots of scientific papers, deciding on my next experiment, helping to teach undergraduate students or doing puzzles and playing games with the children who come into our lab.

What I'd do with the money

I’d buy some new equipment so we could make our neuroscience outreach sessions even more fun and exciting.

At the moment I sometimes help out with workshops about the brain that we deliver to children and young people in local schools or after school groups (like Brownies/Guides). I’d like to buy some new equipment so we could make those workshops even more awesome and help more people understand how their brain works.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Blue-haired, happy, friendly (sorry! That’s technically 4 words!)

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What's your favourite food?

Definitely pizza.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I walked over hot coals for charity once. It was very fun but a little bit scary at first!

What did you want to be after you left school?

If I’m being honest, I didn’t really know.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Once or twice when I forgot my homework. I wasn’t very organised but luckily that has changed!

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

I like to do lots of outreach events where we show local children/young people what it’s like to be a scientist. Those are awesome!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My psychology teacher. He used to tell us about all the different research he had done and it always sounded really interesting.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A teacher.

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

To finish my PhD on time, to have a successful research career, and to be able to eat unlimited pizza without putting on weight!

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a fish without any eyes? A fsh.

Other stuff

Work photos:


Our lab doesn’t look like what most people imagine when they think of a lab! We’ve tried to make it nice and friendly because we have lots of babies and young children coming in to visit us so we can learn how their brains develop.