“I look at the way diseases are transmitted between animals and humans.”
How did you get to where you are now?
“I did my PhD in Cambridge and went to Imperial to do a post-doc working on malaria for 6 years. I then got my first lectureship at Leeds, and decided to start working on Toxoplasma. I moved to Salford 3 years ago, and I am currently Dean of the College of Science and Technology.”
What is your proudest work-related moment to date?
“When I first went to Leeds and was working on Toxoplasma, I had a colleague who was interested in the sex ratio distortion. One Friday night, he and I were kicking a ball of paper down a corridor and he said he thought it might be a parasite causing the distortion and we had a discussion about it, and this led to a PhD being developed which was taken up by Alison Dunn. But all of this came through a silly conversation walking down a corridor late one Friday night.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“Between the ages of 14 and 16, I worked as a waitress in a local hotel. My worst moment was during silver service when I accidently poured hot peas down someone’s cleavage!”
If you had left academia in a parallel universe, what job would you be doing instead?
“Well, not waitressing! I would definitely be a medic.”
Where is the best place you have ever travelled for work?
“I have recently started working in Mérida in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The city is old, the food is to die for, and the people are really energised. It’s a great environment to be in.”
What’s your favourite parasite?
“This is really tough. I love gregarines. There are so many of them, and one day I would love to look at them in crustaceans.”
If you had to be infected with a parasite what would you pick?
“Well, after 30 years of working on Toxoplasma, I know that I am not infected with it. I would probably pick a helminth such as Ascaris.”
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind be?
“I would be totally useless. I hate trivia!”
What’s your favourite type of cheese?
If your office/lab caught on fire, what would be the thing that you saved?
“Well the data is all backed up, so nothing else matters.”
To find about more about Judith Smith’s research at the School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, have a look at her website:http://www.salford.ac.uk/environment-life-sciences/els-academics/judith-smith