Hannah Brotherton

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!! Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!! And Gresham school - a promise is a promise - I will be visiting you next year :D Thank you again!!!!!!! <3 Every scientist in this group was amazing.....thanks for making it a challenge - especially Ian :P

Favourite Thing: I love a competition, so trying to find out what no one else knows is my favorite thing to do :D



6 years at University so far :P So, I went to Cardiff University, Swansea University and now University of Manchester – only 23 (still young :P )


A’s and A*’s in GCSE, Biology, Chemistry, Maths in A-level……………………. BSc Neuroscience, Masters Neuroscience, Masters Abnormal and Clinical Psychology, PhD audiology…………………..20 years in school :P

Work History:

Researcher at Cardiff University. BUT… I loved working in part-time jobs….. sales assistant for a jewellery store, a barmaid in a pub, a waitress, a shoe shop assistant and a pasty seller. Random jobs, but the money was rollling in :P kept me going through uni

Current Job:

PhD student in Audiology


University of Manchester

Me and my work

To investigate how and where the brain creates a sound known as “ringing in the ears”……and find a cure :D

The brain is one of life’s mysteries. We don’t know what every part of it does. Can you imagine if this was the case with other organs in the body, like the heart? The brain is far more complicated than the other organs in our body, with a vast array of electrical networks that link each part of the brain to each other. The brain is made up of four sections, that we can imagine as four different continues. Each country has roads going in and out, connecting one to another. In some places there are bridges, in others there are roundabouts. The roads could be major routes of brain activity (like a motorway) and others could be simple connections to other parts of the brain (crossroads). In each country there are cities and towns and houses, all connected with each other and this is what Neuroscientists (brain scientists) explore. Neuroscientists usually dedicate their academic life to a specific area of the brain to specialize in defining and characterizing this area.

I dedicate my work to explore the “hearing” part of the brain. I look at how a brain pathway from the ear that goes all the way into our brain cortex (the main brain) adapts to changes in hearing,  causing a person to hear “phantom sounds” or “ringing in the ears”. I do this by plugging a persons ear with an earplug. The brain is clever enough to know that I have stopped sound going into that ear and so imaging the cars on the road as brain activity, the brain activity suddenly becomes like rush hour. Lots and lots of activity trying to compensate for the reduction in sound going into the ear. The brain is already a busy body making a lot of sound that we don’t normally hear, becasue we are so used to the sound of our brain working. However, when the activity is increased, we can all of a sudden hear every sound that the brain is creating and this is known as ringing in the ears. This can also happen when we are exposed to too much sound, but this is usually caused by damage to the ear and is not an area (not just yet) that I am exploring.

So in normal people, this ringing in the ears is the brain increasing its activity to compensate for a lack of sound reaching the ear. However, when the brain activity becomes faulty, this increase in activity can become permanent and this is known as “tinnitus”, which comes from the Latin work “tinnire”, meaning “to ring”. This hearing disorder is life debilitating and can really lower a person’s quality of life. Could you imagine trying to do every day things with a high pitched bell ringing inside your head non-stop? If I can understand what part of the brain is increasing its activity and why it is temporary in some and permanent in other people, then I hope to treat and help people with hearing problems such as tinnitus.

My Typical Day

Brain….science….Brain…….Meeting in a pub……Experiments…….HOME TIME :D

First thing first ————- Tea and Biscuits..Now im ready to work 😀

I write a lot in the morning, reading about what I do and don’t know about the brain (check out my office below).

The I go to the labs, where I have a good look in peoples ears and I look at the brain activity. i can hook them up to lots of lots of silly wires and a silly hat, or I can look at a reflex in their ear, which tells me how quickly the brain is working.

After this, I have meetings with my work mates, we have meetings in the pub 😀

Then in the afternoon I get to do fun things like make stuff to take to schools like the tonoscope (see below, in the activities I will use the money for). I get to listen to music all day and eat as much as I want. I share the office with 8 other people, but we are all friends so we get to relax most days (as long as we do our work lol)

Then I go home, do a bit more reading and then chillax for the rest of the day….getting for a next day in work



I get to travel to other countries and cities to speak to other scientists about the brain. I get to experiment on lots of different people (as long as they agree 😛 ) and I get to make posters and do presentations and win prizes.

What I'd do with the money

I want to start a revolution to get students excited about science and sound. I will create activities to do with sound and noise like making water move backwards just by changing sound waves and making flour and water come ALIVE :D. I will also set up a YOUTUBE channel that will cover everything science related :P

I want to start a science revolution, a sound revolution. I love what I do, and I know you will too.

One activity I want to create is a tonoscope. Your voice can make grains of salt dance and move in amazing patterns. This is a great thing for people to make and see

Another activity is making water spiral backwards by changing sound waves. The sound alters the particles in the water and makes them behave in a different way.

I always want to look at how sound makes different things move using slow motion. Slow motion is amazing and we get to see things in ways we have never seen them before.

Just because we cannot see sound, doesn’t make it boring. These activities let us see sound in ways we could have never imagined.


Have a look at the picture below, these are just some of the things I want to do!


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Dreamer, smiler, dedicated

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Its all about One Direction..Obvs – ha jokes, I like anything RnB

What's your favourite food?

Everything!!! I love Nandos, Chinese, Indian, Sushi, chocolate, sweets, HARIBO TANGFANTASTIC….etc etc

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Travel to the rainforest and chilling out with the monkeys :D

What did you want to be after you left school?

A brain scientist or a game tester…I <3 computer games (Bioshock Infinite :D)

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Me?! I was an absolute angel! ;P

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

I loved working with a real human brain. It was donated to science. Was really strange but amazing

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

At comprehensive school I had one of the best teachers I have ever known. She taught me biology and was so passionate and made us think outside the box. She was and still is my inspiration!

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

Vet – but I am not sure about putting my hand in a cow’s bottom :S

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

1) To live in the Jungle with Orangutans 2) Working in New York 3) Science Presenter

Tell us a joke.

Other stuff

Work photos:


myimage6 This is an activity I want to do. If you mix cornflower and water together and play a sound, its comes ALIVE! its the weirdest thing you will ever see. All it is, is the sound waves are making the particles in this mixture of cornflower and water to move in a different way…which makes it look like it is alive.

(taken from


myimage4 This is another activity I would like to use the money for. This water is actually spiraling backwards….how…..all to do with sounds and different frequencies. Sound alters the particles in the air and water. If we change sounds, we can change the movement of these particles in water. We can ‘control’ the way water moves. I love this activity and would love to show you all. It is pretty amazing…youtube it!

(taken from


myimage5 I want to start a youtube channel looking at how we can see sound. So for instance this is a picture of a tuning fork and how it affects the movement of water….in slow motion. I want to launch loads of different videos looking at how sound affects different substances in slow motion!

(taken from


myimage2 This is a tonoscope. It is a fun acoustic device that allows you to see beautiful patterns created by the sound of your voice. The beautiful patterns are known as Chladni patterns. You can experiment make these patterns by creating your own tonoscopes or just look at videos on you tube. I would use the money to create more of these types of activities to bring to schools and events.







myimage9 Welcome….to my office 😀 Bit messy, but Albert Einstein was messy ha!


myimage7 This is one of many lab rooms that we use to measure hearing and brain activity. This is also a classroom for anyone who wants to become an audiology (A doctor for ears)


myimage8 This is a sound booth – when you shut the door, no sound can be heard, your breath doesn’t even echo. People get to relax in this chair and fall asleep as we measure the electrical activity in the brain whilst they listen to music and sounds.



myimage10 This is what I use to look into all the nooks and crannies in your ears :d I have seen someone lose a diamond in their ear. Strange place to keep it lol


myimage1 This is one of the machines I use to investigate the brain activity measuring changes in the ear. It is called a tympanometer, and its makes noises and changes the pressure inside your ear. Kinda like the pressure you feel when your inside a plane!




myimage3 This is a great picture to explain “ringing in the ear”…Could you imagine having a alarm bell going off in your head constantly. This is what people with tinnitus have to go through every day.