Robyn Hoare

Robyn Hoare

About your career

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

After completing my year in industry, I was asked to stay on in my role at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. I am currently working as a Research Scientist in the Mammalian Cell Culture Process Development department at the company. My role consists of culturing CHO cells in bioreactors at a range of scales; From 15 mL in the robotic Ambr®15 system, all the way up to 200 L. The company also has downstream and analytical departments, which I have also had the chance to work in.

What experiences at Leeds do you think particularly helped with your career?

The manufacturing module was highly relevant to the position that I ended up working in, and I felt capable of taking on this new role with the knowledge I had gained from this module. Many of the assignments on the course required to do a presentation. The experience I gained from this is invaluable, as in my current role, I may be presenting to colleagues or customers weekly, and this really helped build my presentation skills and confidence. The collaborative aspect of the course is also reflective of the industry, as it is very rare you would be working alone.

What advice would you offer to current and prospective students?

Any student passionate about pharmaceuticals, and who aspires to work within the industry should definitely consider this course. You should be prepared to work very hard, but it is worth it in the end.

I feel really proud to work in the biopharmaceutical industry, especially in the current climate as the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted to the rest of the world how important it really is. If it wasn’t for this course, I doubt I would be in the role I am today.

About the course

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I studied in Leeds during my undergraduate degree and loved the city. I was keen to stay for longer and The University of Leeds was the only place I found which offered this style of course, in this subject area. I was undecided at the time whether to look for a graduate job or continue with my education, however upon searching it seemed that many of the roles I was interested in required more experience. When I found this MSc, it seemed like a no-brainer, as I would add to my qualifications whilst also gaining industry experience.

Learning about the course during the interview day and meeting the staff and current students really cemented that this was the course for me.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I loved how the course covered such a wide subject range. Learning everything from drug discovery to manufacturing, and the design of clinical trials. I felt that this opened you up to a wide range of job roles, and while the job you end up in may only be in one of these subject areas, I find it very useful to understand the full picture.

The connection the course has with industry experts is also valuable. Experts from the biopharmaceutical industry gave the lectures, and I felt that this helped ensure the course content was relevant and reflective of reality.

The collaborative work and the small class size also helps friendships to quickly form. Everyone in my year was lovely, and I am very grateful for the friends that I made along the way.

What were the highlights of the course?

The highlight of the course for me was the practical module, in a short period of time we were able to learn how to use the equipment and perform key techniques that are used every day in the industry. The small group size also ensured that you could have a lot of hands-on time and have discussions with the lecturer.

What were the greatest challenges throughout your degree?

Because this course squeezes such a large amount of content into a relatively short period of time, you have to be dedicated and focussed in order to keep up with the deadlines. Many modules involve group work, so you also have to be aware that you have to work around other people’s schedules.

Did the staff help you throughout your time at university? If so, how?

The staff working on this course are very passionate and supportive, and in my experience, go above and beyond to help you.