In Brief

A picture of Beth McMillanBeth McMillan is currently studying for a PhD in systems biology at Oxford University, following her BSc (Hons) in biochemistry and MSc in mechanistic biology. She has a particular interest in non-animal methods of pre-clinical pharmaceutical testing.

She is also an avid classical musician and a big geek, with secretarial experience and a passion for Free Software. Her interests include knitting, web design and recreational mathematics.


I'm currently studying for a PhD at the Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Oxford. The taught component of the course has included learning to program in C, Perl, R and MATLAB, refresher courses in calculus, organic chemistry and statistics, and modules in drug design, biological modelling, image analysis and microscopy.

In 2012, I finished a Masters course in Mechanistic Biology at the University of Sheffield, for which I was awarded a Distinction. This course covered the quantitative aspects of molecular biology, with modules in mathematics, phyical biology, nanochemistry, biological modelling and programming in Python. The practical side of the course involved atomic force microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. For my dissertation project, I created an agent-based model of endocytosis in budding yeast.

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in biochemistry from the University of Sheffield in 2011, a course which also covered microbiology, genetics and systems biology. For my final year project, I expressed, purified and co-crystallised an enzyme with its inhibitors, and performed X-ray trials in order to determine its structure. I also completed two summer internships during my degree.

Key skills

Vacation Student Research Experience

University of Oxford

June - July 2011. Modifying several CellML models of cardiac purkinje cells, adding a stretch activated current parameter. Finding and reviewing scientific literature, familiarising myself with the XML-based language and Cellular Open Resource, and collecting data, including writing a peak detection macro in OpenOffice Calc Basic. I also had the opportunity to observe voltage-sensitive dye experiments on the whole heart, single purkinje cells and the intact ventricular wall, and to attend the Physiology 2011 conference.

University of Sheffield

June - July 2010. Investigating the effects of zinc on the formation of Stefin B amyloid fibrils. This work included: plasmid preparation/harvesting; creation of competent E. coli cells; transformation; cell growth and harvesting; protein purification including ion exchange chromatography, size exclusion chromatography and HPLC; SDS-PAGE; UV, visible and fluorescence spectroscopy; circular dichroism; electron microscopy; data handling using Microsoft Excel and Visual Basic Scripting; and critical analysis of scientific literature. This project culminated in a written report, a podcast and two presentations to technical and non-technical audiences.

IT and programming

Key skills

BitFixIt Café

This community group meets at the weekend to solve computers problems for people in the Burngreave area of Sheffield. We repair hardware problems, remove viruses and malware, and install operating systems and open source software, as well as sharing skills and maintaining a free wi-fi network. I also designed our website.


My Masters course included a module on Python programming for biological applications. These have included calculating the pI of a protein, using programmatic web acces to NCBI databases to collate sequence information with keyword searches.

I enjoy programming in my spare time, and have created some personal projects in Python and C, including an implementation of the Sieve of Erastothenes , which is a method for finding prime numbers.

PAS, a program I used in the NHS as an admissions clerk, can be extended using a scripting language similar in syntax to Microsoft Visual Basic. I have written several scripts to improve the efficiency of data entry. This first script simplifies patient preadmission, basically reducing it to a short bit of data entry rather than a long complex process. Here is the source code. The second makes it easier to revise the status of an appointment order (e.g. from a ward on discharge) by automatically checking all patient episodes. Source code.

Web development and design

My experience of web design and development began at the tender age of eight, with a website full of pictures of cats. Since then I've been involved in a lot of fun web development projects for businesses and organisations around the country.

Meridian Training Solutions ltd.
Meridian Training Solutions Ltd.

This company trains financial service advisers. They wanted a clean, professional, corporate website. To keep the branding consistent, I based much of this design off their existing business card. I used CMS From Scratch to allow the client to carry on updating the website in the future.

Paul Rogers said: "At the beginning of 2009, I asked Beth McMillan to build a website for my new business. I left the design completely up to her, although I did provide the wording for the content, together with the images I wanted her to use.

Beth did not only build me a fantastic website; she also provided me with:

  • An editing program, to enable me to edit the site’s text and images as required;
  • written instructions on how to maintain and edit the site;
  • a 1:1 demonstration of how to use the editing program.

I was particularly taken with her ability to take written information and make it both interesting and eye-catching. One example of this is how quotes from satisfied clients are animated on the site’s home page.

Beth also created a “contact page” where people could post a question or message, to be delivered to the company’s email account.

I am delighted with both the site itself and Beth’s assistance regarding its maintenance. I have also received complements from colleagues regarding the website: they have commented on its professional appearance and user-friendliness."

The BitFixIT Cafe The BitFixIT Cafe

This is a small community group running out of a council flat in the Burngreave area of Sheffield. We fix desktops, laptops and peripherals, install free and open source software and teach computer skills to anyone who's interested. We needed a simple, boilerplate page to let prospective volunteers and users know who we are and how to find us.
Tom Ellis & Laura Snowden
Tom Ellis and Laura Snowden

In this interesting project, I took the existing website design of this guitar duo and integrated it with CMS From Scratch, allowing the musicians to update the information themselves and include videos. I also wrote some PHP code to link CMS From Scratch with SimpleViewer, which meant that the gallery could be updated from within the content management system.

I created an entirely new PHP-based content management system for this mutual credit scheme, which auto-generated menu entries and webpages based on text files containing simple wiki markup. The front page is based on the Cyclos banking software that lies at the heart of the project.
Tir Eolas

Tir Eolas

This wonderful folk band needed a quick website to promote their upcoming album.
Sheffield Bisexual Group

Sheffield Bisexual Group

The Sheffield Bisexual Group is an informal social group. I created a stylish website to advertise their group and affiliated organisations to interested parties.

Oroborous Technologies
Oroborous Technologies

O-tech repair amplifiers and audio-electronic equipment for bands in and around Sheffield (including the Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers). They wanted an informative website in a zine-like, grungey style with a circuit diagram in the background and their cute logo in prominent position. I liased closely with the client in order to build a standards-compliant website completely to their specifications.

Administrative and Secretarial

Key skills

Relevant experience

Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead - Administrative Bank Staff

Musical and Orchestral

Key skills

Grade 8 flute (plus piccolo).

I've played with the Sheffield University Symphony and Wind Orchestras, the West Sussex County Youth Orchestra, the Crawley Area Youth Orchestra and Concert Band and the Sackville School Orchestra and Concert Band, in many instances as principal flute.

I've also been lucky enough to accompany the Sheffield University Wind Orchestra on tour to Boppard Am Rhein, Germany in 2010, and the West Sussex County Youth Orchestra to Carinthia, Austria in 2008.

Grade 7 singer

I have many years of singing both alto and soprano parts in several choirs, including the Sheffield University Chamber Choir, Crawley Area Girls', Youth and Chamber Choirs, Sackville Community Choir and Sackville School Chorale. As well as formal concerts and solo performances, I also performed in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's musical Trial By Jury in 2009, and Lionel Bart's Blitz! in 1999. If you know of any musicals happening in 2019, please let me know.


I enjoy recreational mathematics - especially the books of Martin Gardner. I love to read, and I periodically write 17-syllable reviews of books. I love blogs (and blogging), and webcomics (and webcomicking ). In my spare time, I relax by knitting, sewing and cooking. I love learning new techniques, and organising craft swaps on places like Craftster.