Sallie Baxendale

Yay! Go Bob - the best man won!!!

Favourite Thing: Finding out stuff that no one has ever found out before



Kingston College of Further Education, University of Surrey, UCL London


BSc Psychology, MSc Clincal Psychology, PhD Neuropsychology

Work History:

Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford; Institute of Neurology, London

Current Job:

Clinical Neuropsychologist



Me and my work

As a Clinical Neuropsychologist it’s my job to work out which bits of people’s brains are working properly and which bits aren’t.

Scans are very good at showing us tumours and other things that don’t look quite right, but they don’t really tell us much about whether those bits of the brain are also doing something really useful. I work as part of a brain surgery team working out how much brain tissue we should take away and how much we should leave, when people need to have surgery to get rid of tumours or cure their epilepsy.

My Typical Day

I don’t have a typical day, but in a week I will spend quite a lot of time with people who are about to have brain surgery or who have just had it.

I put them through lots of tests, testing their vocabulary, mental arithmetic and ability to complete puzzles. I also test their memory with lots of different tests For the patients it’s a bit like doing a really difficult exam covering EVERY subject, but with no chance for revision. When I’m not with patients I am often analysing the scores from hundreds of other people who have completed these tests, looking for patterns that will help me work out how the brain works and to predict what will happen when a piece of it is removed.

What I'd do with the money

Hold a Poster Competition ! …. and give you the chance to win £100

Epileptic seizures happen when the brain temporarily malfunctions. Although lots of people know about generalised seizures, (fits where people fall to the ground and start shaking) most people don’t recognise smaller seizures and children who suffer them can get a really hard time from their friends, and even their teachers, if they don’t understand what’s going on. The chances are that at least one person in every class at your school will have a seizure at some point in their life.

If I won I would use the money to run a competition for secondary school children to design a poster ‘What is a Seizure’ It would be aimed at teenagers and would include some of the science behind what is happening in the brain when a seizure occurs and also some information about seizure first aid. The money would go towards a prize of £100 for the best poster, and £50 for the runners up. We would use the remainder to print the posters and send them out to schools.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Observant, Creative, Thoughtful

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I heard a really great band called Clearwood busking in the street last year. They are from Bristol and are not famous yet but I’m sure they will be one day soon.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I once rode a rip current between 2 islands in the Indian ocean. The water was moving incredibly fast (2 meters per second) and all the phytoplankton was twinkling green and silver below us in the blackness. It was like flying through space. Fortunately there was a boat the other side to pick us up!

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

I guess world peace, food for all, and a protected rainforest aren’t really for myself so…I’ll go for 1. Health, 2. Wealth, 3. Calorie free ice-cream, cakes and chocolate

What did you want to be after you left school?

I loved geography at school and really wanted to be a cartographer (map maker). I still love maps and have lots on the wall, but now I just map the brain

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

YES! I was in quite a naughty class in year 9, and we all used to get punished for the behaviour of the class. Once, some girls locked the music teacher in a cupboard for a whole lesson and left her there for the next class to find. Also our RE teacher had a hearing aid and the class used to make high pitched whistling noises to make her adjust it.

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

I wrote a book and people bought it.

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a teacher with no arms, no legs, and no body? The Head

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage2 Here is the operating theatre where patients have their brain surgery. The surgeon can stop the operation and put the patient straight into the scanner to see his progress, and then get them straight back out again to continue with the operation.

myimage3 This is the hospital where I work. The white building is where the research happens and the brick building is the hospital. It means the doctors and the scientists work really closely together.

myimage4 This is the library. The records go back over 100 years so it’s a great place to research the history of neurological diseases and find out how people in the past made their breakthroughs.