Neuroscience with year abroad student at University of Leeds

Tiffany Quinn

Tiffany works as a Content Manager for the science media company, Technology Networks. She graduated with a degree in Neuroscience, as well as studying abroad at Newcastle University in Australia.

About your career

What is your current job?

I currently work for Technology Networks, a science media company that promotes the latest science news, research, and products to an international audience. We have 12 communities that we cover on our site from neuroscience and drug discovery, to immunology and genomics so it is very broad.

Although I work closely with the editorial team, my role is actually Content Manager; I run the content department which works closely with vendors and pharma companies to create content that promotes their products/research. I love my job as every day is different; I work on a variety of projects including articles, how to guides, videos, podcasts, and infographics.

How have your career goals changed during your degree?

I always knew I wanted to go into science communication and although I enjoyed the lab to some degree, my strongest area has always been my people skills and being a good communicator. I wrote articles alongside my degree and therefore knew by the second year that I want to pursue a career as a medical writer rather than a researcher.

How do you think your degree has helped you in your current role?

Having a science background is vital for science communications, as the nature of my job is fast-paced and quite technical at times. Although I am writing about complex science topics that I have not studied before, the foundation of a science career has enabled me to understand the basics and build from there. Additionally, knowing how to break topics down and research and approach science papers is a skill that definitely carries over – especially when I am writing pieces.

Where would you like to see your career going?

I am pleased that at my company I have been given the opportunity to build my own career path. When I first joined in 2018 as a content producer the department I now run did not exist. I am proud of the fact that I have built a team and created a branch of the business that is now a significant source of income for the company. My aim is to continue to grow the team and eventually assume the role of Creative Services Director, or something equivalent.

About the University

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

From the moment I stepped foot on the campus I knew this was where I wanted to be. The staff and students on the open day were so warm and passionate and it's hard to put into words, but there is definitely an air about Leeds that is hard to ignore! The city is amazing; it's safe, fun and there is always something going on - whatever your interests are. I was particularly swayed by the opportunity to study abroad here and the number of partnerships around the world is just fantastic!

What did you enjoy about the course?

I liked that we had quite a lot of choices in terms of the modules we picked as we progressed through the syllabus. Most of the lecturers we had were very passionate about their research and this definitely came across when they took our classes. I particularly enjoyed the practical elements, especially the brain spot test – even though it was stressful revising for that!

I did a literature review about the role of inflammation in neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. I actually really enjoyed researching this topic and writing up my dissertation.

What practical lab projects did you enjoy?

The laboratory sessions throughout my degree helped us to gain hands on experience putting the theory into practice. My favourite was the snail brain project in second year; we had to dissect their tiny brains (very difficult and frustrating) and then examine the effects of different compounds on the brain. It was amazing to see how much the central nervous system can vary between different species! It also highlighted the patience required to carry out difficult and technical practicals over a lengthy period of time!

What have been the highlights of studying Leeds?

I joined the Street Dance Society in my first year and it's been the best decision in terms of meeting amazing people and making amazing memories. I also managed to get accepted to the University of Newcastle in Australia and that was the best year of my university experience. I got to take some amazing modules like marine biology and I also got to travel to a lot of places around Australia as well as the Philippines and Bali. I made some great friends that I still keep in contact with now.

About my Study Year Abroad

Where did you do your study year abroad?

I managed to secure a year abroad at the University of Newcastle, Australia and it was an amazing experience. I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and learn in a new place, I remained a neuroscience student there however I did pick some interesting electives such as journalism and marine biology!

I actually really loved studying at the university over there and quite liked that we had small regular tests every month instead of long ones at the end of every semester. This seemed to work best with my learning style. Living in Australia was unlike anything else I had experienced and I made a lot of amazing memories and friends that I still keep in touch with today.

What was it like studying in Australia?

I had lectures on most days of the week but they were usually clustered earlier in the day which worked perfectly for going to the beach in his afternoon. I had a job at a fine dining restaurant on the beach and so would work 3-4 times a week and do revision/uni work whenever I wasn't doing that. We used most weekends to get out and explore the surrounding areas with our Australian friends - the wineries were phenomenal!

What support did you have?

The University was really supportive and often put on loads of drop in sessions and fun activity days before exams to de-stress! I didn’t really need specific help with anything but I knew where to go if I did!

What skills have you developed from studying abroad?

I definitely enhanced my versatility, confidence, and my ability to push myself far from home. You have to become independent when you do something like that and it subsequently forces you to become a little more ambitious!

I made lots of networking contacts there, I spent some time with some neurologists, child psychiatrists, and a geneticist which has helped with my understanding of future careers.