Krishnaa Mahbubani



I grew up in Hong Kong which is where I went to school: St Paul’s Convent and Island School


Masters in Engineering (MEng) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Work History:

British Nuclear Fuels Limited (Process Engineer), Schlumberger (Drilling Engineer), University of Sheffield (Research Assistant)

Current Job:

Post-doctoral researcher in cryopreservation (freezing things)


University of Cambridge (Departments of Surgery & Chemical Engineering)

Me and my work

I’m looking for a way to successfuly freeze cells, tissues and organs so we can keep them longer and ensure they can be successfully transfused or transplanted.

My Typical Day

After a breakfast fit for a champion, my day starts with checking on my growing cells before running experiments in the lab, occassionally a little bit of teaching and finally a session at the gym picking up heavy things with my friends before I go to bed, ready to start again!.

What I'd do with the money

I would like to use the prize-money to modify a car jack so that it can be used to convert solid chocolate pieces into flexible chocolate laces. The jack would be a wonderful device to explain how pressure, not just heat, can change the chemical structure of materials. Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of flexible chocolate!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

nerdy, sporty and surprisingly tiny

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Barenaked Ladies

What's your favourite food?

anything that has bacon :)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Be a guest on the naked scientist radio show!

What did you want to be after you left school?

A firefighter

Were you ever in trouble at school?

All of the time – I was never very good at being quiet and sitting still. Too many questions to things I didn’t understand.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Chemistry (what’s not to love – things go bang!)

What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?

I built a fully functioning model of a stirling engine (see here:

If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?

A carpenter or a brick layer

Tell us a joke.

What’s grey and goes round and round ? An elephant in a washing machine!

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage1 – Me with the Naked Scientists Chris and Chris!

myimage6 this is an isolated islet cell — they produce insulin in your pancrease helping you digest all of the sugars in your blood stream. This is one of the types of cells I am trying to freeze!

myimage2 – my sterile hood that I am working in… preparing my cells for freezing

myimage3 the controlled rate freezing unit that we are using.

myimage4 prepared batch of cells for freezing.

myimage5 The old man Harry (aka Harold) trying to help me get through some work on an evening.