Meet Michelle Reeve. She’s doing a PhD on spiders, loves barefoot running, and would buy you a pint with her last penny!

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spider

Do tell us about your research?

My PhD research looks at spider locomotion! Spiders can naturally ‘self-amputate’ their own legs to escape from predators, and I’m interested in how their gait changes when they’ve lost legs. I hope to be able to use this knowledge to design a new controller for an eight-legged robot, to allow it to adapt to damaged legs in a similar way to spiders. This would be useful for legged robots used in search & rescue, space exploration and the armed forces!

To know more about Michelle’s research, check out her blog

What’s the best thing about being an academic researcher?

The flexibility – both in terms of your working hours, and what areas you want to specialise in. Having the freedom to work around mundane things like dentist appointments, to being able to work at home when you’ve got a nasty cold, is really useful. And directing your own research to focus on an area you’re really interested in is great!

What book are you reading?

Currently reading Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. I’m a very keen runner, and his famous book (at least in the running world!) Born To Run is one of my favourites. Went to the book launch for the new one and he is a very inspiring speaker, too!


Michelle Reeve

What style are you comfortable in?

I don’t really feel I have a ‘style’… I tend to wear skinny jeans and Vans and plain t-shirts. I’m quite simple really! Love a flowery dress in the summer though, when I’m not in my scruffy denim shorts. But I love lounging around in my running stuff too!

Most favourite item in your wardrobe?

My denim shorts. If I could wear them every day I would! Or my running shorts…

What are your favourite fashion brands?

For everyday wear, most of my stuff is H&M. For running, I’m a sucker for Nike gear – it’s so comfy!

Where do you shop for your outfits?

H&M, Primark, New Look… Us PhD students don’t earn that much money, after all!!

Whose style inspires you?

I love my Mum’s summer footwear – she’s always in nice sandals or flipflops! Sadly I have ginormous feet and am slightly self-conscious about getting them out!

If you could ask three (academic juggernauts) for dinner, who would they be, and why?

Ooh, tough one. I think it would have to be Sir David Attenborough, because he’s seen and done so much and bet he has wonderful stories to tell; Hugh Herr (rock climber, engineer & biophysicist) – I read an article about how he learnt engineering and biology to develop bio-inspired prosthetics after he lost his legs in a climbing accident, and it really made me choose this field of study; and Christopher McDougall so I could talk to someone for hours about barefoot running without them getting bored!

What would you spend your last cash on?

I think I’d buy someone a pint. At least then I’d be owed one back!!

What academic events or seminars will you be attending in the next 6 months?

I’m presenting a poster at the Society for Experimental Biology’s annual conference in Prague in July, and also going to the BIG STEM Communicators Network Event in Norwich, where I’m hoping to meet lots of like-minded science communicators and learn a thing or two!

Are you a Windows or a Mac?

Mac! (& Linux)

Where will be your ideal get-away spot from the academic hustle?

Jamaica! I’m lucky enough to have been twice, and it’s just bliss.

Michelle Reeve running - Stylish Academic

Michelle Reeve

Who are you when you are not doing research or teaching?

I’m a runner! I enter races (usually 10K) and train regularly even when I don’t have a race coming up. It’s my way of relaxing, and achieving something personal outside of academia.

People are always surprised that… 

That I used to dance. I trained in tap, modern and jazz dancing from the ages of 6-16, with a bit of Riverdance thrown in!

If you were not an academic researcher, what would you be?

Related to the previous question, I would love to be a professional dancer, although I don’t think I’d be good enough! Always had a dream that I would be in musicals or something (again, I can’t sing for toffee and I’ve never acted so I’ve no idea if I can do it…)

Connect Michelle on Twitter –@michelleareeve

She will love to hear from you.