School of Biosciences

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Next Graduate profiles
  • Anja Godfrey

    As I got to grips with the content of the various subjects, I quickly found that I was most interested in microbiology. The inspirational lecturers taught me about the huge impact that these tiny life forms have; essential for our survival, but so often responsible for our demise.

    During my time at Kent I discovered that I enjoyed working in the lab. I also found that the detective-like nature of research suited me perfectly. With this in mind I sought out a summer studentship at Imperial College. Here I worked with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, trying to discover how it dodged the immune system. I returned to Kent for my final year and this experience set me up well for my final year project, which I enjoyed so much. The passion and support shown by my supervisor made me decide that I must pursue my studies further. In September 2013 I began my PhD at the University of Sussex, studying viruses, and I am incredibly excited about this. Without my experience at Kent I wouldn’t be prepared for this difficult challenge, and certainly wouldn’t be confident of my ability to rise to it.

    Academic achievement is all very well, but Kent also offered me a very active social life, with a huge amount of societies and sports clubs to be involved in. This aspect of Kent life really sets Kent apart from other universities, generating well balanced students with life skills as well as social skills and I am so pleased I chose to study there.

  • Bryony Hayes

    Bryony (on the left) is a Clinical Trials Research Technician at Hammersmith Medicines Research. She had a Year Abroad in San Diego State University.

    What attracted you to Kent? 
    Initially, I loved the look of the campus because of the wide open spaces and the location, overlooking the town, and Parkwood as a student village seemed like a great community to be a part of too. As far as the course went, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted from it, or what specifically to look for, as it was all fairly new territory. But during the open day, I saw the labs, which had only recently been renovated and looked beautiful! Walking around the Stacey building and looking at all of the students work on the walls, and the various research works being undertaken, I found it really inspiring. Seeing everything that was going on, I could tell that it would be a really interactive course, and in addition, all of the faculty members I spoke to seemed genuinely excited about the new intake of students and were proud to show off their department. Which I think speaks volumes about a place!

    How were your studies? 
    Studies were hard! I hadn’t taken chemistry at A-level, and as a result had to take some core chemistry modules in my first year. But with a little perseverance and a lot of help from friends I made on the course, I passed the module! Personally I found the 2nd year the hardest, partly because of the subject matter, which suddenly progresses in leaps and bounds (when they say that first year is important to lay the groundwork, they mean it), and partly because I knew I would be doing a year abroad, and had to work two part time jobs in order to save the money to go. It was a difficult hellish year, but the following one MORE than made up for it!

    Describe your year abroad.
    A complete whirlwind! A year sounds like a long time to be away from home in another part of the world, but it goes by in the blink of an eye.

    I chose San Diego State University –a  decision I have not regretted once. The lifestyle in California that they show on TV has not been exaggerated. People really do spend their afternoons at the beach or drinking cocktails, they do have road trips up the coast, they do go wild on spring break, they do surf, they do go everywhere on rollerskates or skateboards, and everyone is, like, totally relaxed dude…

    It’s difficult to describe my year abroad, it’s not a travelling mentality, because you’re there for a year so you have to settle in, go to class, do the coursework, and create a life for yourself.

    Meanwhile, there are literally thousands of other international students who are either there for a year or only a semester, and it is impossible not to get swept up in the excitement of it all. Straight from the get go, people are planning trips and parties and working out which surfing class to attend. It’s just a different world.

    I chose not to enrol in lab-based classes because there were a few interesting lecture-based modules that are not available at Kent. Such as Developmental Biology, which was insanely complicated, but thoroughly enjoyable and actually many of the developmental pathways we learned about were useful for things like Cancer Biology in my final year at Kent. I also took an online class in Haematology, which was one of my favourites content-wise, although it made me realise I do enjoy the traditional lecture-based delivery.

    There are also a multitude of wonderful bars, restaurants and places to see around the city. But on top of everything, San Diegans are more into outdoor activities than partying hard – so take hiking boots which you will need to scale the beautiful surroundings (try Torrey Pines) and appropriate swimwear for kayaking, canoeing etc.

    What are you doing now?
    I was lucky enough to get a job that I started about 2 weeks after graduation. I work as a research technician for Hammersmith Medicines Research, which is the largest phase one clinical trial facility in Europe! It’s fantastic, I work on the ward rather than in the lab (although they do give us some lab training so we can process samples ourselves), and work directly with the subjects to collect data and monitor for side effects.
    The people I work with have been wonderful, and I’ve made a lot of good friends here – and if clinical trials are something you are interested in pursuing a career in, I would definitely recommend sending us a CV when you’re in your final year!

    In what way has Kent helped and supported you in what you are now doing?
    Personally, I think my year abroad was the key to developing many of my personal and professional attributes that enabled me to succeed in finding a job, and certainly gave me the confidence to push myself once I started work. But if my year abroad was the key, it was the faculty members at Kent that showed me the door.

    You will never again have such fantastic resources as you will find in the Kent Bioscience faculty; it’s even a little daunting how knowledgeable they are. But if you can show them that you truly have an interest in what they are teaching, then they will help you succeed in any way they can.

    Particularly for me, the support I was given when preparing for my year abroad was immense. You cannot fathom how much work is involved in moving your life to another continent for a year – but Kent helped me to pick a university, discussed the classes with me and explained the system and were always quick to respond to my many many emails when I had questions.

    The faculty members at Kent have been invaluable, and I cannot express thanks enough for giving me the opportunity to study abroad and have what I consider to be one of the best years of my life!

  • Dan Richards-Doran

    Why did you choose to study at Kent?

    At Kent my degree gave me a broad overview of the Biosciences, but with the chance to go down a particular pathway of interest. Also I thought that the Canterbury campus was really beautiful – so leafy and green.

    How would you describe the teaching at Kent?

    The teaching and support were second to none and the students voted the School the best in the UK. I had a great relationship with the staff and a very supportive personal tutor. Also, the lecturers give you the chance to think about the impact that science has on the rest of the world and that made it an inspiring experience.

    What about the academic standards at Kent?

    Standards are very high. Since graduating I’ve worked with scientists from all over the world, so I can really appreciate how excellent the level of research continues to be at Kent.

    How do the skills you gained at Kent help you in your present career?

    The degree at Kent gave me the opportunity to do a science communication project in my final year. At the time, it was unique – no-one else was doing it in the UK. My topic was on human therapeutic cloning, looking at the medical and ethical concerns. I had to go into a local secondary school to give a talk to the pupils there. The project gave me the inspiration to pursue a career in science communication. Without it, I certainly wouldn't be in the job I'm doing now.

    How did your career progress after graduation?

    My first job was in medical publishing thanks to the experience I gained at Kent in writing about science for different audiences. I then found a job organising pharmaceutical conferences across Europe. This gave me some experience of managing events, while still working in a scientific field. I was very lucky to then spend four years running National Science & Engineering Week at the British Science Association before going on to manage press and communications activities at the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. I’ve gained some really valuable experience across public engagement, schools outreach, media relations, science policy and digital marketing and have worked with great brands like the BBC, Google and BlackBerry.

    I’ve recently joined the University of Oxford as Communications and Events Manager for the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, where academic clinicians research and disseminate improvements to the care that GPs deliver. It’s great to be back in a university environment and incredibly rewarding to support leading academics whose research can have an immediate impact on patient health and care.

    What advice would you give to those thinking of coming to Kent?

    Go for it! You're unlikely to find a higher level of support anywhere in the country and you have the chance to gain a broad set of skills. Some of my friends from the School of Biosciences are now working in scientific research, others are in industry and some – like me – went into other related areas.

  • Dr. Eloise Hillyard

    Eloise is an Associate Manager of Clinical Operations in Oncology, having progressed through the clinical trials sector as administrator, research associate and project manager before her current role. She completed a PhD at Cancer Research UK in association with UCL, in 2007 during which she published part of her PhD research in Nature.

    Describe a typical working day.

    My day-to-day work involved oversight and management of cancer clinical trials. Days are mixed, but in general they include the following:

    • Ensuring the timely progress of the clinical trial and that targets are met
    • Development of recruitment strategies to increase patient randomisation into the trial
    • Development and revisions to clinical trial documentation and training materials
    • Oversight that country specific regulations and GCP (Good Clinical Practise) are met
    • Managing study team members
    • Reviewing data quality
    • Participate in global teams meetings ensuring that colleagues are updated on all relevant issues.
    • Review of tracking systems
    • Financial management, budget planning and budget control

    What do you most enjoy about your job?

    I enjoy that my job is fast pace, challenging, quality driven and requires my ability to problem solve.  Ultimately, what drives me is that the new drug being researched may provide the patient and future patients another treatment option that they may not have had before. This could potentially extend their lives and/or may provide them with a better quality of life.

    How did your degree prepare you for the job you have now?

    The knowledge gained has to allow me to understand the scientific rationale behind the activity of a new clinical trial drug. In addition, my degree has provided me with tools to understand a clinical trial protocol and process of collecting stringent data.

    Do you have any particular memories of your time at the University and the degree programme?

    I have lots of great memories inside and out of the School of Biosciences during my degree and Master’s. I remember the like-minded friends I met and the fun I had with them - and 10 years later it continues!

    How was the teaching?

    The teaching quality was very good, the knowledge I gained was a great basis for my PhD at Cancer Research UK and then to go on to pursue a career in clinical trial management.

    Did you get to do research?

    Yes. I stayed at the University of Kent to do the Masters of Research in Biotechnology (MRES) course, during which I completed a cancer research project within Dr. Dan Lloyd’s lab. Following on from the MRes at Kent, again in Dan Lloyd’s lab, I completed a PhD at Cancer Research UK and published my research in the journal ‘Nature’.

    Did you feel like an individual, not a number?

    I definitely felt like an individual, there was real consideration given to my strengths and weakness. The support that was given to me was excellent and key to me achieving a 2.1 in my degree.

    Was your degree hard work?

    Yes, but I did not want my degree to be easy. I enjoyed working hard and this work ethic/discipline has set me up for a career that I enjoy.

    Do you have any advice for students interested in your career path?

    Gaining work experience as a Clinical Trial Assistant or Administrator is advisable within a pharmaceutical company or the Clinical Research Organisation (CROs, are contracted by Pharmaceutical companies to conduct their Clinical Trials). Gaining experience at this level will provide you valuable insight into the complexities of clinical trials and that a team effort is key to their success.

  • Dr. Sam Godfrey

    Sam is Science Communication Manager at Cancer Research UK.

    What attracted you to Kent?
    There were many reasons. I visited in the summer and was struck by the acres of green space and the view of Canterbury; I knew that Canterbury was a great city, and was pleased to find that the University is very self sufficient, with many bars, clubs, restaurants. This was very important to me! The School of Biosciences had a good reputation and I remember leaving an introductory lecture thinking, yes, this is where I want to come. 

    How were your studies?
    My undergraduate degree was one of the best experiences of my life. I found the topics engaging and enjoyable, and loved lab work. A particular highlight was doing my own science project in my final year, my first taste of being a scientist. In terms of course content, I found I was most interested in diseases, particularly cancer, and my studies at Kent still resonate with me today.

    What about the teaching?
    The teaching was excellent, as demonstrated by the consistently good teaching reviews the department gets. I still remember many of my lecturers fondly, and the style of teaching made me realise that learning was something that could be fun.

    How would you describe your fellow students?
    Fun. My year group was very sociable, with 20 or 30 of us regularly going out together. It’s been 12 years since I started and I still regularly meet up with a lot of them.

    Did your course change you?
    First of all it confirmed that I loved science. It changed me from merely being interested in science to being a young scientist. The experience at Kent helped me grow up and become a capable person. I’m sure I’ve still got some growing up to do, but a lot less than I would have if I hadn’t gone to uni.

    What were the facilities like?
    When I was there, the science facilities were adequate. But when I returned for my PhD in 2007 they had transformed to outstanding. I’ve seen facilities at other universities and Kent’s are right up there.

    How was the social life?
    It was fantastic, better than I could have imagined. And the opportunities to play sport or try your hand at unusual activities (like parachuting or caving) were many.

    In what way has your degree helped you find work?
    Following Kent I was a scientist at Pfizer. I was then enticed back to Kent, to the lab of my two favourite lecturers, to do a PhD in cancer research. It was a great experience and I was lucky enough to represent the University at the House of Lords and many fancy garden parties (the nibbles were excellent). Following my PhD, I became a researcher at Imperial College, looking at ways to help nerves repair themselves. And then I moved to my current, and best ever, job.

    I work for Cancer Research UK as a science communications manager. I’m responsible for taking jargon-heavy science and making it interesting to the public and for our fundraising teams. On a typical day I may write about some brilliant researcher for a team of fundraisers to use in a campaign. I may then be interviewed on radio or TV about a piece of breaking cancer news, or provide expert quotes for the media. I regularly sit in on creative sessions to come up with new ideas to raise money. Recently I’ve joined the CRUK blogging team, which means that I get to meet and interview famous or distinguished people, including Olympic champions and Nobel Prize winners.

    What advice would you give to prospective students?
    Career wise, I would advise students to aim to do what they enjoy. And if they aren’t qualified for their dream job, look for a job that will give you the experience you need and then move on. Pretty soon you’ll have the experience you need to walk into your perfect role.

    If you want a good university that lets you have fun, helps you learn and turns you into a well-rounded student, then Kent is perfect. Even though I no longer live there, for me, Kent is home.

  • Dr. Sara Sandbach

    Sara is an Associate Clinical Programme Manager for a large, multi-national pharmaceutical company. She has also been a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Paterson Institute of Cancer Research before moving on to clinical trial management.

    Describe a typical working day.

    Being responsible for global clinical trials means you have several starts to the day depending on which time zone has just woken up and which time zone you are in! Each time zone brings its own challenges and problems, ranging from preparing ethics committees responses, to protocol questions, to issues with customs. I coordinate a team that helps resolve all these issues. Once resolved I then start my day job, which involves budgeting and planning to guarantee we deliver excellent scientific data to enable successful drugs to be delivered to the market.

    What do you most enjoy about your job?

    Using my scientific background in a strategic, focused way to help bring new medicine from the bench to the bedside.

    Do you have any particular memories of your time at the University and the degree programme?

    I have the most amazing memories of smiles, fun and happy times that I spent with almost every person I met at the University.

    How was the teaching?

    Excellent! I could recall almost every person at Kent who helped me to achieve my goals through teaching and support. In fact, with the help and support I got from the University of Kent it felt more like a family. I was an individual that was never alone.

    Was your degree hard work?

    Yes! You get out what you put in and the University of Kent helps to nurture the hard work out of you.

    Do you have any advice for students interested in your career path?

    Scientific research either in academia or in industry is a tough game, but if you are determined to make it you will. Connections and a good solid educational background will help you achieve your goals.

  • Jessica Miller

    Why did you choose this course?

    I have always enjoyed science; however, I realised during my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter that laboratory work wasn’t for me. During the third year of my undergraduate degree I took a module in Science Communication. During this module we took an assignment where we wrote a New Scientist style article and also studied how science can influence policy making. I’ve always enjoyed writing and the Master’s course provided me with an opportunity to bring together my background in science, with my interest in writing and communication.

    What was good about the course?
    Our course was very small which provided an opportunity for shared discussion and debate around the topics we were studying; this enabled us to delve deeper into the topics and to understand them more fully. Dan and Charlotte are always available if you need support or guidance and will make the time to see you. Additionally, in many of the assignments, we were given the freedom to explore the communication of our personal scientific interests. During my undergraduate studies I specialised in biomedical sciences and the Master’s course allowed me to pursue these topics further.

    What did you enjoy about it?
    My two favourite modules in the course were called ‘Science @ Work’, which explored the presentation of science in the media and ‘Visualising Science’, which provided us with the opportunity to study the visual communication of science and the meaning and interpretation we apply to images of science. During these modules I wrote two of my favourite assignments during the course. The former explored the presentation of the MRSA scares in the UK media at the beginning of the last decade and the latter focussed on the use of imagery in anti-smoking advertisements. Both of these essays combined my interest in health and disease, with the skills I had developed in science communication.

    What do you do and how does it use the skills you learnt on the degree?
    In October 2013 I began a one year internship with a Brussels-based NGO called the European Food Information Council (EUFIC). I work in the EU Projects Communications department, where I assist in producing communications materials for EU-funded projects relating to food and nutrition. The job is incredibly varied − one day I could be writing a science brief and editing a podcast, the next, I may be helping to organise a conference and drafting copy for a project’s social media site. I also have had opportunities to travel abroad for my job and in January I gave a short presentation at a kick-off meeting for one of our projects in Crete.
    The Master’s course broadened my perspective on the relationship between science and society and helped me to consider how scientific ideas are formed, interpreted and used. This has been incredibly useful for my work. For example, one of the projects I work on looks at the topic of personalised nutrition ­− the design of more individual, healthier diets, based on dietary choices and genetic expression. This work has many ethical and legal implications, including the collection, storage and use of personal genetic data and is one example of how scientific techniques and concepts are used by society.

    Anything else to consider, for people considering the course?
    One of the core strengths of this course is the opportunity to discuss and debate the ideas and topics which are covered in the seminars. Make the most of this and be prepared to share and express your views. It will help improve your oral communication skills and will enable you to get the most of the course.

    Any other advice for people looking to pursue a career in Science Communication?

    It is always a good idea to build up experience outside your studies. This doesn’t just look good on your CV and provides you with new skills; it can also help you decide what career path you wish to pursue. During my Master’s I gained experience in a museum and in a medical research charity. Although the museum work allowed me to communicate directly with the public, I realised this sector wasn’t for me. In contrast, I found the charity work enormously enriching – both in terms of developing my skills and in guiding my career choices.
    My second piece of advice is to develop your practical social media skills. It can time and effort, especially if you cannot obtain professional experience; however, you could set up a Tumblr or Twitter account, where you can post content about the latest research in the areas of science which interest you. Try following similar social media pages and learn how to communicate science through social media. If you can develop practical social media skills, this will enable you to stand out in the job search.

  • Lucie Houghton

    Lucie is now Public Engagement Manager for the Royal College of Pathologists.

    Any previous roles before the one you currently have?

    After graduating from my BSc I got a job on a graduate programme as a sales executive for an orthopaedic company. However, there was a lot more to the role than just sales. I had to undertake an extensive training programme which involved learning how to do a hip, knee, ankle and ligament replacements so that I was able to advise the surgeons and nurses using our product how to use it whilst in theatre. This meant most days I was in scrubs in theatre assisting with surgery. When I wasn’t in theatre I was liaising with hospital staff, checking equipment, arranging transportation of stock, training theatre staff, attending surgeon conferences, attending surgeon training on cadavers or doing demos of kit in theatre waiting rooms. I covered the south east so I spent a lot of time driving round all of the hospitals in the region. Unfortunately, theatres generally don’t run to time so I also spent a lot of time waiting and drinking coffee in theatre staff rooms!

    After working here for 18 months I decided I wanted a career change so I returned to Kent to complete a Masters. On completing this I got a job as a Communications and Public Engagement Coordinator for The Royal College of Pathologists in London.

    What is your current role?

    I have recently been promoted and am now the Public Engagement Manager for The Royal College of Pathologists.

    Describe a typical working day.

    There isn’t really ever a typical day as the job is very varied - one of the best things about it! My days can involve attending public engagement events which we have organised, designing new resources for pathologists to use in schools, designing new event ideas, arranging and attending science communication training for pathologists, updating the website or social media, developing the public engagement strategy in line with budgets and publicising and judging public engagement competitions. I am also currently working with publications to produce a book which will be used for future public engagement activities.

    What do you most enjoy about your job?

    I love how different it is every day – I can be in the office cutting out organ shapes for a school activity one day and then in Newcastle hosting science communication training for pathologists the next! I get to collaborate with lots of other organisations in London, for example the Science Museum and NHS Blood and Transplant, I love meeting these different scientists and science communication teams and being inspired by the work they do. I am very passionate about communicating science so I love being able to do something where I feel like I am making a difference to the future of science.

    How did your degree prepare you for the job you have now?

    My undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science has given me the scientific literacy to be able to speak to pathologists and biomedical scientists about their work and then help them adapt it to the audience they are trying to reach. It also helps when designing events to have such a relevant scientific background. My Masters helps me every day in what I do. I am consistently referring back to many of the areas which we studied and applying the knowledge to the practical implementation of science communication within my field.

    Do you have any particular memories of your time at the University and the degree programme?

    The ‘Science on the Buses’ activity was definitely a highlight of my Masters degree. It gave us the opportunity to undertake some real science communication and potentially have an impact on the local community. The project involved being innovative and creative with our plans and it was exciting to know that these would be implemented for the general public to see. It was this activity which I feel really inspired me and confirmed my desire to work in the field.

    Did you feel like an individual, not a number?

    In both my degrees there was always a lot of individual support available. Lecturers were always willing to give up their time to help you if you asked for it and this helps to create a positive learning environment. There were only 15 of us on my Masters which meant there was even more time for one to one discussion and support as well as giving us the opportunity to tailor seminar discussions to our particular interests.

    Was your degree hard work?

    Studying science at undergraduate level does involve more teaching time than other subjects, however I think it is definitely worth it for the analytical and problem solving skills you develop. Whilst undertaking my Masters I was also working in 2 part time jobs and studying an Open University short course, so yes it was hard work and involved a lot of time management skills. The course is designed for part time working though so lectures are all on the same day which helped. I think the hard work is worth it as being able to demonstrate your enthusiasm to do something and having the time management skills to achieve it, is very valuable to potential employers.

    Do you have any advice for students interested in your career path?

    Get involved in as much as you possibly can – employers will notice your enthusiasm for achieving if you have gone out of your way to learn new skills. A lot of skills are transferable to the work place so even if you don’t have much work experience, think of other ways you can enhance your CV. For example, volunteer at science festivals or get involved with your local Café Scientifique. I would also recommend keeping up to date with current topics, research, debates (and jobs!) in the field by joining the PSCI-COM mailing list available via JISC Mail.

  • Maaria Ginai

    A bit about myself

    I started at Kent in 2007 on the 3 year Biomedical Science course. Originally I was signed up for the 4 year course including placement year, but I opted out of it after the first year. I graduated in 2010 with a First Class degree and went on to do a PhD at Loughborough University in Biological Engineering.

    What attracted you to Kent?

    I really wanted to go to a campus university and I really liked Canterbury as a town. The staff seemed really friendly, and the course was sufficiently broad-based that it wouldn’t constrain me and I didn’t know at that stage what I wanted to do further on in my career.  

    What did you particularly enjoy or appreciate about your degree and the School of Biosciences?

    I enjoyed the applied aspect of the Biomedical Science course, especially going to the William Harvey hospital in Ashford and looking at the labs and the type of work they do there. My favourite modules were Immunology, Pharmacology, Microbiology and Physiology.

    The lecturers were good and were passionate about the modules they taught so they were able to convey the course material very well to the students.

    The lab practicals were also very enjoyable and there was lots of guidance on hand from the demonstrators. There are a wide variety of techniques taught during these practicals, some of which I still use currently.  

    What are you doing now?

    I am now finishing off my PhD studies at Loughborough University in Biological Engineering which is funded by the BBSRC sponsored by AstraZeneca. Briefly my project is based on creating a bio-artificial kidney device incorporating primary renal (kidney) cells as a tool for drug testing. This involves assembling and assessing a hollow fibre bioreactor tailored for renal cell growth and attachment. Human renal cells have then been characterized in terms of drug transporters important for drug testing, and how they are expressed and function on cells of different ‘ages’.

    In what way has Kent helped and supported you in what you are now doing?

    Kent prepared me with both the practical skills and knowledge to pursue academia. The final year research project enabled me to think independently, start planning experiments and problem solve which are important through a PhD. The lecturers were very supportive and enabled me to get the grades, give support and guidance about all matters and enjoy my time at Kent overall.  

    What advice would you give to prospective students?

    The main bit of advice I would give is to go into university with an open mind and give it your all. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you want to do (but if you know your chosen career that’s great). There’s a great support network put in place in Biosciences for both educational and other issues and there’s plenty of time to figure it out. Although I didn’t do one I would thoroughly recommend doing a placement year. It may seem a daunting prospect leaving your friends for a year and coming back, but talking to people who did do one makes me wish I’d gone with my original plan of going on placement! Finally, good luck to everyone!

  • Sam Marsden

    Sam is Marketing Services Manager for a scientific consultancy company.

    Describe a typical working day
    Most days are different, but I guess my main roles are the scheduling, development, financial management and marketing of our conferences and events, market consultancy and training. This involves the development of partnerships with vendors and key opinion leaders in science, developing social media and marketing communications, and searching out and developing new business opportunities.

    What do you most enjoy about your job?
    Travel! Part of my job involves visiting clients and trade shows all over the world. I’ve been to places such as San Francisco, Singapore, Munich (always fun during Oktoberfest) and Rio De Janeiro.

    How did your degree prepare you for the job you have now?
    I work within the life sciences, so my degree gave me the baseline knowledge that I need to understand the research and development that I am exposed to every day. In some cases there is catching up to do, and one thing you realise on graduation is that you can’t possibly know all there is to know about biochemistry. But the degree gave me the skills I needed to develop my knowledge in areas I was less familiar with. In addition I think a bioscience degree makes you think in an analytical and logical way, which I have personally found very useful in business management.

    How was the teaching?
    To be honest, even whilst studying I always thought the teaching at Kent was excellent. But since graduating it’s so apparent to me when talking to other grads from other universities that the support I received at Kent from my department was above and beyond other universities. I always felt like an individual, and there was always support available for me from my tutor and module leaders.

    Do you have any advice for students interested in your career path?
    Be flexible, adaptable and willing to take any opportunity to learn new skills. Also get involved in other non-degree related activities like sports, clubs and societies. Science, like any other industry, is about people and relationships. Being personable, polite and friendly is just as important as your academic knowledge.

  • Sofia Fernandes

    What attracted you to Kent?
    My parents live in London and so I had initially applied to study Biomedical Sciences at universities in central London, however I did not do as well as expected and went through clearing. Kent was a recommendation from a teacher, whose son attended the university and had heard that the Biosciences department was a good one. Having done a bit of research and speaking to Kent clearing I initially accepted the offer and went to visit the university and instantly fell in love with the picturesque self-contained community.

    How were your studies?
    The expectations were set out from the beginning from both the lecturers and on an individual level. If we were to make the most of both courses, we were in lectures and in the lab from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, with multiple deadlines and regular exams, so it is fair to say that it was fairly intense. However, once I got into the swing of things I surprised myself in the ability of organising myself and turning out good coursework and more often than not decent exam results.

    What about the teaching?
    The lecturers were passionate and supportive and this in turn went some way to alleviate some of the pressure that came with the course, and week in and week out, we went back for more and I think this speaks for it itself and therefore goes without saying that it was good quality teaching.

    How would you describe your fellow students?
    My fellow students were incredibly hard working and carried each other through the tougher times during the course, unknowingly inspiring. Social events were also good fun.

    Did your course change you?
    I work very well under pressure in the wake of conflicting deadlines and produce high quality work and I believe that both degrees and the associated discipline have made me the methodological, organised person that I am today.

    What were the facilities like?
    We had access to the technology, lab equipment and facilities we required to put the theories we learned in lectures to the test. This played a particular vital role in my lab based final year project and subsequent Master’s thesis.

    How was the social life?
    Despite all the studying and early mornings there was always time to socialise and I met and became good friends with a great bunch of people, some of which I remain friends to this day.

    In what way has your degree helped you find work and in your employment?
    I knew that I did not wish to pursue a lab based career, its importance is infinite, but however it is not for me. I wanted a career that would allow me to still play a role in Biosciences and Medicine and started to look for job roles in clinical research, but with no academic or industry-based experience, I was not successful. I did however apply and was offered a job at BioMed Central (science, technology and medicine open access publishing company). I was an editorial assistant for 8 months.

    I began my career in clinical research in July 2009 as a glaucoma research coordinator for a NHS Trust for 18 months. I was involved in the set-up of commercial trials and supported investigators in the identification and recruitment of patients. I was able to organise and administrate all aspects of the trials, ensuring adherence to trial protocols from patient recruitment until the end of their participation.

    For just over a year I was a clinical trial assistant working for the Orchid Clinical Trials Group at the Barts Cancer Institute, based at Queen Mary University London. I was responsible for data entry, maintaining documentation, assisting research nursing staff and clinical research assistants in clinics with assigned tasks, liaising with commercial sponsors as required, processing and managing storage of blood and tissue samples. I also assisted in the preparation for the MHRA inspection in September 2011.

    In February 2012, I progressed into a Clinical Trials Coordinator role within the Institute in the Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine, where I managed 2 CRUK funded gynaecology multi-centre trials (Phase I/II and Phase II/III) as well as a national Phase II breast cancer study under the Astrazeneca and NCRN Alliance and I assisted in the coordination of 3 other multi-centre trials.  

    In April 2014, I accepted my first contracting role as a Research Coordinator at the Thrombosis Research Institute, where I am responsible for setting up and managing the UK Coordinating Centre and national management of a global observational venous thromboembolism registry.

    My degrees enabled me to pursue job roles and career progression within the Biosciences and Medicine discipline. I have worked on trials that assess current treatments, novel therapies, novel diagnostic tools and the results will ultimately impact future research and treatment for patients with glaucoma, cancer or deep vein thromboembolism and that is very satisfying.

    What advice would you give to prospective students?
    Although Kent was not my first option, once I arrived on campus in Fresher’s week, I have never looked back. From the studying to meeting new people and learning a lot of life lessons, it was an incredible four years. If you are considering studying any of the Biosciences disciplines, I would strongly encourage you to visit the campus, the department and speak to the lecturers, some of which taught me, this may give you a glimpse of what others and I enjoyed during our time at the university.

  • Stephanie Ashenden

    What attracted you to Kent?
    I was passionate about science as well as its application and course allowed me to explore these areas. I had also wanted to attend a campus university and the campus and surrounding areas at Kent are beautiful. Finally, I was interested in the research undertaken at Kent. I had been particularly fascinated by a talk at one of the Open Days on prion disease, something of which I had studied at school, and the research drew me towards studying here. I then continued at Kent, completing a research Master's investigating the mechanisms of resistance to tubulin-binding anti-cancer therapies.

    What have you most enjoyed about being in the School of Biosciences?
    I have enjoyed the chance to explore ideas and gain valuable experience. We spent a lot of time working on practical elements of the course which I was able to use during my year in industry, which was based in Thailand. 

    What skills or attributes have you gained?
    I feel I can respond to situations in a rapid and professional manner which is a valuable skill in the laboratory. I am also able to look at work or events from multiple different angles which allows me to find the best solution to completing the task at hand.

    Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities or projects?
    Several. I thoroughly enjoy science communication - a real strength in the School of Biosciences - and therefore I got involved with the student media societies. I was able to work on shows and news articles which was great fun - I even won awards for it! I also worked as a student ambassador for the university, and I also engaged with the peer mentoring scheme to support students in dealing with the early stages of their degrees. This allowed me to work on some fantastic projects with students and help others with their studies. My students nominated me for a teaching award which was the most wonderful feeling.

    How is student life?
    Student life is a whirlwind -before you know it you are graduating, and you wonder if the last few years really happened. There is always something going on around campus and there are always opportunities to do something you never thought you would. I never thought I would have the opportunity to work on malaria in Thailand for a year - the most amazing experience. 

    What is next for you, and how has Kent helped in this career path?
    I will be starting my PhD at the University of Cambridge after completing my research Master's, and I will be working on chemical space analysis and using a chemogenomic approach to drug discovery. I am so pleased that I took all the opportunities that Kent provides, both within and outside the academic subject, which I feel have been a critical part of my successful application to Cambridge.

    What advice would you give to prospective students?
    Time goes fast -three years sounds a lot but really it isn't. There are so many opportunities available at university and you should seize each and every one of them. You may get knocked down several times before you succeed at something, but with every opportunity you complete you create new avenues to explore.

  • Ziyad Al-Dibouni

    What attracted you to Kent?
     
    The course itself is the main reason why I chose to study at Kent. To be able to be taught by people who are leading experts and pioneers in the reproductive medicine field really appealed to me. Kent’s reputation as one of the world’s best in academia and research was a factor, as was having visited the campus before applying and seeing the world class facilities that would be available to me. Choosing Kent was a no brainer.

    What did you particularly enjoy or appreciate about your degree and the School of Biosciences?

    Being taught by staff that have gained their knowledge through years of experience really helped bring the course alive and helped enhanced my learning. The methods of teaching through lectures and practicals was balanced really well, and taught me a lot of transferable skills. I particularly enjoyed the medical ethics module which was taught with law students, as it allowed me to see a different way of thinking when it came to combining science and the law .What I really enjoyed about the course was the freedom to be able to pursue my own interests in the field and being able to design and carry out my own dissertation project at an IVF unit which the university had links with.  I found the support provided throughout the course really helpful. All the staff had an open door policy and were really friendly and approachable and happy to help with any matter.

    What are you doing now?

    I have worked at two IVF units since graduating from my MSc, which allowed me to have first hand experience in embryology. Currently I am now preparing to study further at St Georges Medical School, to build more on my masters and my interest in reproductive medicine.

    In what way has Kent helped and supported you in what you are now doing?

    Still being in touch with lecturers/tutors and being able to always contact them and obtain positive references and advice has really helped me in securing interviews and job offers.

    What advice would you give to prospective students?

    The only advice is choose Kent. Simple! You will leave Kent with more than just a degree. The skills and experiences and friendships you will gain are invaluable.

Enquiries: Phone: +44 (0)1227 823743

School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ

Last Updated: 06/07/2015