Vicki Onions

oh my god oh my god oh my this is what shock feels like?! Thankyou everyone who voted for me..i'm overwhelmed :)

Favourite Thing: Get something tricky to finally work! It makes all the blood sweat and tears (lots of tears!) worth it in the end.



Nottingham Girls High School : 1988-1999


University of Nottingham : 1999-2002 (BSc Hons, Applied Biology), 2003-2007 (PhD; whole ovarian cryopreservation)

Work History:

Notts County FC, TopShop, University of Nottingham


Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Nottingham

Current Job:

Research Fellow – I carry out research into whole ovarian freezing

Me and my work

My research involves trying to freeze whole ovaries and see if they will still work after they have thawed.

Sometimes when girls and women undergo treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, this can damage their ovaries causing them to go through the menopause early and they become infertile.  The theory behind my research is that if we can take ether tissue from the ovary (which contains eggs) or the whole ovary itself before their treatment and freeze it away in liquid nitrogen (-196oC!), we can preserve their eggs in the frozen state until after they have completed their treatment.  When they want to become pregnant the tissue can be transplanted back and will hopefully start working again. This has been successful when using small pieces of tissue from the ovary but this only allows the woman to be fertile for a limited time (a few years) as the eggs run out quickly.  So my research is trying to freeze the whole ovary and transplant it back.  Sounds simple but the larger size of the ovary makes it more difficult to freeze successfully (think about what happens if you put a strawberry in the freezer – you get a mushy mess!) and so we are still working on making the method work better.

My Typical Day

I come in, check my e-mails over a cup of tea and then I can be doing a whole range of lab work, from RNA extraction to homone level analysis.

My typical day usually starts at 8-8:30am.  I come into work and first of, make a cup of tea whilst my computer boots up.  Then I check my e-mails and check in my diary what I have planned to do today.  At the moment I am supervising Master student projects for their final dissertations so most days at the moment I am helping them with their lab work. This can often involve me collecting ovaries from the local abattoir (not the most appealing part of my job) for them to use in their studies.  My work involves a whole range of lab work and to be honest, I don’t have a “typical” day but it can range from cutting ultra thin slices of tissue so we can look at structures under the microscope to counting cells to analysing media or plasma for different hormone levels to carrying out experiments on ovaries to try different things to make them freeze better.  This experiments often involve putting a thin plastic tube called a cannula in to the artery that supplies the ovary.  As the artery can be less than 1mm wide, this requires a steady hand (and a choclate biscuit before hand).  I can then pump different things directly to the ovary via this tube; like anti-freeze to protect the ovary during freezing, or substances that may help cells not to die.  

What I'd do with the money

I would donate it to KIND which aims to provide science and social education for diasadvantaged children – for info see

If I was to win, I would donate the money to the charity “KIND”.  This charity believes that all children deserve the same opportunities and also that education is the key to changing their standards of life.  As such, KIND works with some of the most disadvantaged children and families in the UK and provides education in sciences mainly, but more specifically in terms of social and environmental education, in an effort to provide them with the motivation and skills to change and improve their standards of life.  For more infomation, see the KIND website

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

smiley, worrier, helpful

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Counting Crows

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I went on a road trip holiday with my best friends from LA, to Vegas then to San Diego. Vegas is FUN!!

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

For my Dad to be well, for me to be more organised and to be cooked for by Rick Stein

What did you want to be after you left school?

A farmer – I’ve almost made it, I have my own sheep but still need the paying day job!

Were you ever in trouble in school?

Not really, bit of a goody 2-shoes.

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

Sheep embryo production – its so exciting when they “hatch”!!

Tell us a joke.

2 lions in a supermarket. One says to the other “quiet in here isn’t it?”