Michal Szpak


Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Outreach Officer at the EMBL-EBI

What do I do?

I study how humans have changed or evolved over thousands of years
by looking at the DNA from people around the world as well as really
old bones and Mountain gorillas. I use computer programmes to help
me look for differences in the DNA code and work out how they are
linked to human characteristics such as hair shape.

Me in 3 (Three words to describe me)

  • Creative
  • Fast learning
  • Chatty

Fascinating facts about me

I grew up in Poland and I have an identical twin brother. I went to Drama school (and I still keep going to auditions). My favourite band is Years & Years and I have appeared in their music videos. I love films, theatre and travelling.

Skills I use in my job:

Coding - I write code and computer programmes to help me analyse my data

Planning - I have to plan and design my experiments to help me answer new science questions

Communication - Part of my job involves training other scientists, I have to explain things clearly to help them learn new skills

Teamwork - I work with other scientists from all around the world, it is improtant that we can all work together to contribute to a project

Can you recreate an Anglo Saxon's face?

Using DNA clues to understand people from the past is a big part of my job.

Can you use DNA clues to discover and draw what a person from the past looked like?

Using the DNA Key opposite, match the DNA clues for the eye colour, hair colour, hair type and freckles to one of the Anglo-saxon skeletons and draw what you think they looked like.

DNA can’t tell us much about what they wore or physical marks such as scars – but you can be creative!

You can recreate more faces here:

Download profile in pdf