Anastasiya Kuzmich

About your course/programme

Why did you choose to study your course?

I first started studying Neuroscience at the University of Leeds for my Bachelor's degree. In my eyes, the human brain is a masterpiece of evolution and the most beautiful phenomenon which remains an enigma of biological sciences. My love of the subject left me wanting to develop my skills and knowledge further. I started to consider a career in research, and this Masters degree was a perfect place to start.

What do you enjoy about your course?

What I love most about this course is how much freedom we are given to research and explore the topics we most enjoy. There is a real focus on your personal development and plenty of opportunities to tailor the course to what you want to get out of it. At the same time, we are pushed to come out of our comfort zones and discover novel areas of research, which has allowed me to develop across a wide range of cutting-edge subjects while continuously tailoring them to my interests. Additionally, it is particularly rewarding to feel that you are continuously picking up transferrable skills for a career in science.

What have been the highlights of the course so far?

Especially during Covid times, I most enjoyed how interactive this course is. From journal clubs to many presentations and panels, it has been stimulating to have open discussions and learn from my peers and researchers. These always feel like natural and open conversations, rather than university work. I have also particularly appreciated the data analysis aspects of the course, as I consider coding an essential skill for any scientist, which is sadly often less used at the undergraduate level. I found it rewarding to pick up these skills within my Masters.

What have been the greatest challenges throughout your course so far?

Given that I started at the peak of the pandemic, the biggest challenge was adapting to the new way of things and studying primarily online. However, I felt that the course was adapted well, and I definitely got the most out of it despite the circumstances.

How do you think doing a research project has benefited you/will benefit you in the future?

My main area of interest is applying data-intensive machine learning and computational modelling to cognitive neuroscience and psychiatric disorder research. This has strongly influenced my project choice, which involves analysing big data collected from Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments. The main focus will lie on applying machine learning algorithms to automate and speed up these processes.

Although we were first offered several set projects, upon discussion with my supervisor, I found a lot of freedom regarding the direction that I can take my project to tailor it to myself completely. This was very helpful, as I could decide to pick up specific skills that I may need in the future. Should I apply for a PhD after this course, I will be able to demonstrate my past work and apply the acquired skills in my further studies.

About the University

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I first chose the University for its impressive research facilities, excellent rankings and vibrant social life. I adored my first three years as an undergraduate here, got to know the professors and researchers and knew how excellent the facilities were. Staying for another year of postgraduate study to build on my past knowledge and experience felt like a natural progression.

What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?

Labs were my favourite aspect of my pre-pandemic academic life at the University of Leeds, which I am looking forward to resuming during my Master’s once all restrictions are lifted. On the co-curricular side of things, the University organises many events and trips to socialise with our peers and broaden our horizons. My absolute highlights include a trip to Berlin with the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the ski trip to Val Thorens, which were both invaluable experiences.

How have the facilities (libraries/labs etc.) helped you get the most out of your degree?

Labs have been my favourite aspects of the past four years at the University of Leeds. There is no better way to learn and develop research skills than to try things first-hand. Having access to the many libraries has also been invaluable to maximise my learning and collaborate with other students on my course.

Have you joined any student societies/sports clubs at the university? If so, how has this enhanced your time at the University?

I am an avid snowboarder and part of the Snowriders society at the university. This society organises two snowsports holidays a year, where I have made some fantastic memories. I am also a part of the Faculty of Biological Sciences Society, which runs a range of social and academic events throughout the year, and the impressive end-of-year balls that my coursemates and I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout the years.

What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming do the same course?

I would recommend this course to anyone who would like to learn about neuroscience in a research-led, social and dynamic manner and acquire real, practical skills applicable for a career in science. You will be learning directly from expert academics and researchers, communicating about science critically and with an open mind.

What are your ambitions for the future? Do you have specific career plans? 

Studying at the University of Leeds has inspired me to pursue a career in Neuroscience research. After graduating, my plans include applying for a Doctorate in the area. The university has not only helped me with these goals in terms of career advice but also ensured that I tailor my learning throughout this course to my specific research interests and necessary skills.