Sophie Mathew, MSc  Infection, Immunity and Human Disease

Sophie Mathew

About your career

Where do you work now?

Currently, my role is as a Laboratory Assistant at the freeze-drying company, Biopharma Group. I work with a team of around 7-9 other people producing COVID-19 testing kits.

What do you do in your job?

My role is to produce PCR testing kits, dispensing large volumes of master-mix, RNase solution and dispensing positive control in a separate facility. I also perform Karl Fischer analysis on products post freeze-drying to ensure moisture levels of products are low and to ensure a better shelf life.

How does it feel to be working in this area during the pandemic?

It feels immensely rewarding, I know that my help in producing these kits is being used all around the UK, ensuring that people feel safe in their places of home and work.

How do you think this experience will help you in your future career?

As a new graduate, this job has really helped me develop better time management, ensuring deadlines are met and work is completed within suitable time frames. This experience has also given me insight into working in production, how organisation, communication and team-working is essential to the success of any batch process operation.

How did your degree prepare you for your job?

The skills I learnt from my Masters degree such as being adaptive, organisation skills, good time management, scientific writing and speaking skills are all transferable to my current job. I also gain an in depth knowledge of infectious disease, experimental molecular techniques and laboratory etiquette.

My career development module helped me expanded my options to what types of roles I could apply for, it was run by the Faculty of Biological Sciences careers service which was very informative and useful.

In the future, I’m hoping to eventually go into more of a research-based role, continuing to focus on infectious disease, but potentially leading to a wider public health type role.

About your course?

What made you decide to come to the University of Leeds?

I wanted to move further away from my home town and I liked the prospect of moving up North for my postgraduate degree. The University of Leeds has a high reputation in the national ranks, with excellent opportunities for research.

What interested you about studying MSc Infection, Immunity and Human Disease?

Studying MSc Infection, Immunity and Human Disease provided me with the opportunity to understand investigations into various disorders and diseases. Medical research is an important, fast-paced yet evolving field of science, thus I recognised its importance to medicine, healthcare and science. Understanding infection, immunity and diseases are the building blocks for pursuing an interesting and dynamic career in this field.

What areas did you enjoy most about your course?

The topics covered, that I enjoyed the most included: treatment of infectious disease and cancer; medical diagnostics and advanced biomolecular technologies. I especially enjoyed the advanced biomolecular technologies module, where we were invited to attend seminars and talks hosted by other researchers and professors from international universities. It was interesting to understand more about their research, the implications of their work and further progress.

What practical experiments did you enjoy?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, lab sessions were limited for safety, however, I did get to complete the protein engineering and microbiology lab modules.

The protein engineering course prior to lockdown gave me the opportunity to learn and practice experimental techniques including site-directed mutagenesis and molecular cloning. I was also given the opportunity to test microbiological specimens and examine them under a microscope.

What did you enjoy most about studying at the University of Leeds?

The people are very friendly and welcoming, there is a range of places for food and drink within Headingly and Leeds City Centre, which are walking distance from the campus. I also enjoyed the range of places to study there were lots of different libraries, cafes and university facilities were all catering for various students.

Photo Credit: Biopharma Group