Plant science and biotechnology masters student at University of Leeds

Rachel Hubbard

Why did you choose to come to the University of Leeds to Study?

The course stood out as being ideal for me, because it offered a unique combination of both broad spectrum biotechnology principles coupled with my more specific area of interest, plant science. 

I wanted to develop and build on the broad foundation that my undergraduate degree gave me by completing a more specific Masters course, and the university has a great reputation for biological sciences and research. I really liked the fact that the course would be taught using a variety of teaching methods and assessments, as I knew I would be developing a whole suite of skills during my time here.

What did you enjoy about your course?

I really enjoyed learning about the cutting-edge research being undertaken by staff at the university, as well as having the opportunity to take part in the research being conducted through my final project. I have also enjoyed furthering my understanding of the broad spectrum of biomolecular technologies available through lab-based practicals, computer sessions, demonstrations, tutorials and lectures.

What has been the highlights of the course?

One highlight of the course for me was having the opportunity to take part in current research within the Centre for Plant Science at FBS, in the form of my research project. Overall, the higher level of study and smaller course size compared to undergraduate level allowed a more personal style of teaching that was conducive to learning and understanding.

What was your greatest challenge throughout the course?

The most demanding aspect of my course has been juggling the many pieces of coursework to ensure I completed them all on time and to the best of my ability.

What is your research project on and what has it involved?

My research project was entitled ‘Elucidating the role of the senescence associated gene (SAG)21 protein in Arabidopsis thaliana’. The project allowed me to realise a piece of research right through from submitting a full proposal to conducting experiments, and presenting my findings through written and verbal formats.

The project has involved a combination of plant physiological studies and gene expression studies in transgenic lines in order to test the hypothesis that SAG(21) is involved in altering plant responses to high light stress.

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

During the course of a year doing this programme at Leeds, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the fields of biotechnology and plant science. I now feel more equipped for a research science career, and more confident in myself and my abilities. Overall, it has been a really worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

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

My ambitions for the future are to pursue a research-based career in the plant science industry, and potentially look into completing a PhD further down the line. I believe the skills and knowledge I have gained over my time at Leeds have provided an excellent foundation from which to pursue my career goals.

The careers reps within FBS were great at providing a variety of information on different career options for MSc Bioscience students through online resources, talks from industry experts and help sessions on, for example, writing applications.