Nikki D'Arcy

Favourite Thing: I like growing cells in flasks. It amazes me how they keep growing and growing! It’s like having millions of pets.



Plymouth High School 1991-1998; Uniersity of Plymouth 1998-2001; University College London 2011-2014


A-Levels in Biology, Psychology and General Studies. Bsc Microbial and Cellular Biology. Postgraduate Certificate in Wildlife Management and Conservation. PhD in Indoor Microbiome research

Work History:

All over. I’ve worked in some great research labs in Salisbury and London. I also worked in Peru for a year which was amazing!

Current Job:

I’m a Microbiologist and Laboratory Manager


Auspherix Ltd.

About Me

I’m a microbiologist who loves sushi, travelling and yoga!

I live in Hitchin with my fiance Chris, we are getting married in Spain this October! Very exciting!!

I seem to be busy most of the time, I go to the gym 3 times a week and do yoga twice a week (try it, it’s amazing!). I’m also an Explorer Scout leader, although I still haven’t learned how to do knots…! When I get time to relax, I usually spend it in my pyjamas, eating and watching stuff on Netflix.

I really like cooking, but I think it’s only because I get to eat what I’ve made when I’ve finished! 😉 I enjoy hanging out with my friends too and travelling when I can. I’ve been to loads of really amazing places, including a recent year off to travel around South East Asia. My favourite place was Sulawesi in Indonesia, full of great people and places to visit.

I also like monkeys.

My Work


Right now, we have lots of bacteria which are resistant to the antibiotics available. It is becoming more and more urgent that we develop some new ones so that people who get sick can still be treated in the future. My company, Auspherix is developing new antibiotics to do just that!

My Typical Day

Busy, lots of things to do, growing bugs, killing bugs, drinking tea.

We are still in the early stages of our research, so the days can be fun and unpredictable (one of the reasons I love science!). We do have a few basic experiments that we do each week though. One of them is testing chemicals to see if they have antibiotic properties (can kill bacteria). I also grow lots of human cells in flasks to see if the chemicals are toxic and kill them or not. Sometimes I do some crazy things like testing rat wee….. which smells pretty bad!

The other part of my job involves managing the lab, so I make sure all the equipment is working properly, arrange for it to be fixed if it isn’t. I do the ordering for the lab and also look after people’s health and safety. We work with a lot of nasty chemicals and bacteria that could be harmful, so it’s important to make sure that all the procedures are there for keeping people safe.

I also drink a lot of tea.

What I'd do with the money

Buy supplies for outreach projects

I am a STEM ambassador and would like to run more workshops and fun days for schools to help people become more engaged in science.

I would use the money to buy supplies and equipment for this. One thing I love to do is extract DNA from onion cells…!!!

I would also buy some biscuits for the lab! 😉

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Determined, hungry & a-little-bit-bonkers

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Major Lazer

What's your favourite food?

Sushi. And cheese. And bacon. Do I have to pick a favourite!?!?

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Travelled around Asia for a year

What did you want to be after you left school?

An explorer

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I used to get told off in PE all the time for wearing make-up…..

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

Went to work in Peru for a year! Also, my PhD was pretty fun (in the end).

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I remember growing bacteria from milk and deciding I wanted to be a microbiologist! My GCSE Biology teacher inspired me to take science A levels.

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

An explorer…..!! Or a primatologist but that’s still a scientist!

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

1) To be able to teleport so I could pop to Costa Rica on my lunch break. 2) To have enough money to set up clinics for people in Developing Countries so they could get medical care for free 3) For all of my friends and family to be happy, healthy and never want for anything (is that 3 wishes in one?!)

Tell us a joke.

Q: Y’all want to hear a Potassium joke? A: K

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage1 E. coli showing you around the lab

myimage2 Messing around with dry ice