- Course: MSc Infection, Immunity and Disease
- Year of graduation: 2018
- Nationality: American
Why did you choose to come to the University of Leeds to study the above course?
I chose to study at Leeds because it's a prestigious university that would allow me to complete vigorous studies as well as study abroad. They had similar research opportunities that I was involved in during my undergraduate degree.
What did you enjoy about your course?
I enjoyed that I had the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of courses. As it was a Masters of Bioscience, I could select classes from bioimaging to treatment of infectious and non-diseases, and plant technology. Eventually, I selected most modules for the Infection, Immunity and Disease course, but I really liked that I had the opportunity to choose. The layout of the course over the year is extremely beneficial for anyone who wants to study further but gain an immersive experience in the research laboratory.
What have been the highlights of the course?
Each module had a variety of lectures. Every major topic was taught by an expert in that field, which made learning easy and extremely enjoyable. Abstract or difficult topics were interesting because professors made them relatable to the work they are currently doing. Although classroom learning is not my best mode of learning, lectures were actually engaging and interesting.
What was your greatest challenge throughout your course?
When we first arrived people kept saying, "the year will be intense" - I didn't realize how assignment heavy a Masters degree is. Adjusting to the critical thinking of analysing research journals instead of just preparing for exams was a major challenge for me. Not only was the depth of material greater, but the way it was being assessed was completely new. However, all the professors and tutors were so helpful. They explained exactly what was expected and how to attain the grades I desired. Their feedback and availability made adjustments and transitions easier.
What is your research project on and what has it involved?
My research project is aiming to fine tune an enzyme, chondroitinase ABC, that degrades perineuornal nets in the brain. The degredation of these nets is commonly used by neuroscientists and has been associated with healing spinal chord injuries, dementia, epilepsy, schizophrenia and many other neurological disorders and pathologies. Our experiment will give greater insight into the mechanisms of the enzyme and whether it can be manipulated to specifically degrade certain structures of the nets.
How do you think doing a research project will benefit you in the future?
There are certain tasks you can only learn by practicing.You can study the theory of different experiments and protocols for months, but in-depth understanding only comes from trying, failing and mastering research techniques on your own. My project has allowed me to understand what fuels my passion for research and how exciting it is to work so hard and finally see results! I know that analytical and laboratory research will be integrated into my career.
About the University
What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?
My friends at the University of Leeds have definitely been the highlight of my year. It has been so easy to make friends in my courses and accommodation. Because there is such a large international population, everyone is always wanting to do new and fun things. I have loved trying out salsa dancing and cooking classes, as well as traveling all around the UK and Europe with new friends. Also, there are events happening on and around campus literally every day!
How have the facilities helped you get the most out of your degree?
The University of Leeds has top quality classrooms, lectures, and libraries. It made group studying and work really easy.
Have you joined any student societies or sports clubs at the university?
The membership to The Edge gym on campus was included with my postgraduate housing. I have attended the free classes -ranging from kickboxing to dancing to weight lifting. Managing my health and remaining active during such an intense year was really important for me. Also, I worked on campus managing an International Student Club that meets every Wednesday with free food and coffee. Every week the program changes from trips to different parks to dancing and juggling. I have made so many friends from all over the world.
What key aspects of your experience of Leeds would you highlight to students thinking about coming do the same course?
I love Leeds! The city and university is big enough to meet new people every day, but small enough to always run into someone you know. The people are warm and understanding to internationals.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I plan to attend medical school in the US. The University has equipped me with a huge range of experiences that will catapult me into my future goals. Medically related lectures and research will give me a different perspective into medicine. My year abroad and international friendships have allowed me to really experience and better understand other cultures – which is necessary in any career!