|2 Sep 2020|
I studied at the Judd School for Sixth Form from 2011-2013. When I left, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do next or where I would want to go, so I decided to take a gap year rather than settling for a university offer I wasn’t entirely sure about. During this time, I was able to look at all of my options and decide on a course and a university that was best for me. Taking this time turned out to be the right choice as I ended up getting a place at the University of Exeter to study Biological Sciences which was worth the wait.
Studying at Exeter was a great experience; the lectures and lab work were really interesting, and I liked the variety of topics studied in the first year of the course which then allowed me to specialise in second and third year. This was perfect for me because I got to try out different things but then focussed on Molecular and Cellular Biology which is what I found most interesting. Although Exeter is quite far away from home, the campus is lovely (despite being set on a massive hill), there’s lots of green space and the city is really fun.
At the end of my first year, I decided I wanted to get more experience working in a professional lab environment, so I completed several research internships during my university summer holidays. The third of these internships was in a lab at Exeter which went really well and resulted in me developing the internship into a Masters project in 2017-18. I spent the year creating fluorescent sensors to visualise interactions between different compartments in the cell and my research was published in a scientific journal! Gaining this Masters was a great opportunity to develop my lab skills and was a good stepping stone for getting into a career in research.
Just before starting my Masters year, I had also applied for a number of PhD positions, but was unsuccessful. I realised that it can be quite difficult to get a PhD offer if you don’t already have a Master’s degree. This was quite disheartening, but I persevered and was awarded a British Heart Foundation-funded PhD with a group specialising in cardiovascular and reproductive disease at St George’s, University of London which started in October 2018. My PhD research focuses on investigating the role of a glycoprotein in the vascular remodelling process in early pregnancy. It is really important that we understand this process as problems with vascular remodelling in early pregnancy can lead to severe pregnancy complications and affect the growth of the baby in the womb.
So far, the PhD has certainly been challenging, and full of many ups and downs, but overall, I love having the freedom to direct my own project and I really enjoy being in the lab. It’s really exciting working on a project that is completely novel and knowing that your results could contribute to the development of new treatments or therapies for patients. It was definitely a steep learning curve at the start of the PhD, especially as I was new to the field, but I am gradually starting to gather more and more data and will complete my project in 2022. After I graduate, I would like to stay in research for a few years as a postdoctoral researcher and then maybe move on to a different career where I can use some of the transferable skills I gained in research.
If any current Judd students would like to know more about working in biomedical research and would like any advice on science PhD applications, please get in touch and I would be more than happy to share my experiences! Just email the OJ Community and they will put you in touch.
The Biology Department at Judd would also like to hear from anyone who studied Biology here and has gone on to study it at University, or indeed anything Biology related after being at Judd, again please just email the OJ Community and we will pass it on. Many thanks!
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