Paige Stevenson, undergraduate student

Paige Stevenson

Why I chose the University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the highest-ranking universities for my course, which was definitely a contributing factor, there were plenty of other reasons why I decided to study here. I wanted a city which combined a vibrant social life, where I could meet a diverse group of new people and enjoy myself, with nearby countryside to explore. Leeds offered everything so was the perfect fit for me, and not once have I regretted my choice.

My favourite aspects of your course

One of the highlights so far has been the wide variety of modules that you study at level one, which was originally something that I did not think I would like before starting the course. However, I don’t think you can appreciate the importance of having a solid base of knowledge, which you gain through studying modules you may not have chosen yourself, until you start to expand on what you know later in the year. Plus, you discover interests you never thought you’d find, which could potentially open up new avenues to study - for example, as part of Introduction to Physiology, we learnt about the respiratory system and how it is affected by exercise which has led me to consider choosing an exercise-orientated discovery module at level two such as ‘Supported the Injured Athlete’. Besides this, you get the chance to meet a larger variety of people, studying related courses such as Pharmacology and Medical Sciences.

The Laidlaw Scholarship

The Laidlaw Scholarship is an opportunity offered by the university to work with an academic on their current research, or on a self-proposed project. Not only do you get to experience what it is like to work alongside people at the forefront of their field, you also get to network with other scholars and hear about the research that they are undertaking at conferences and leadership workshops. I will be working in Dr Wood's research laboratory for a 6 week period both this and next year.

I will be conducting experiments, presenting and analysing data in order to investigate molecules called histone deacetylase inhibitors (also known as HDAC inhibitors) which have shown promise as future treatments for neuronal disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. At the end of the programme is the opportunity to present these findings at a research conference. If you are interested in research as a future career, this is an incredible opportunity which is not offered at many universities. One potentially important activity of these HDAC inhibitors is their ability to inhibit microglia activation, reducing inflammation in the brain. However, the mechanisms by which they do this are not known. The aim of this project will be to investigate the mechanisms by which HDAC inhibitors reduce microglia activation and the identity of the target HDAC enzymes.

Laidlaw leadership residential course

The first residential was an overnight stay at Weetwood Hall Estate, a 4-star hotel. The aim to develop skills in leadership and conducting yourself in a professional environment; we took part in a number of valuable workshops such as leadership style assessment, presenting effectively and how to manage your own project. Additionally, we had the chance to attend a formal dinner with inspiring people from numerous industries. This was followed by a slightly less formal Yorkshire-themed quiz!

The second residential involved a three day trip to Selside, an outdoor centre based in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The aim of this trip was more on cooperating as a team and building the self confidence of each scholar – for example, we had the opportunity to undertake various activities many of us had never experienced nor dare to attempt before, such as caving and hiking up Penn-Y-Ghent, an over 200ft high peak! As a result of this trip, not only did we develop leadership skills but all of us also got much closer as friends.

Although the residentials can often be the thing that some scholars are most apprehensive about, I found them to be one of the most beneficial yet enjoyable parts of my experience so far. Not only do you make some wonderful memories, you develop a valuable skillset to conduct your research project to the best of your ability.

What societies have you joined?

As running has always been an important part of my physical and mental wellbeing, I first joined the cross country society which I cannot recommend enough - not only do you meet life-long friends, but there is a fantastic coach Greg and the opportunity to travel across the country to different races. I have also met some great people through the Vegetarian and Vegan society who put on various events throughout the year such as chocolate tasting and wine and cheese nights (all vegan of course!). You don’t have to be vegetarian to join - they are welcoming of everyone regardless of your diet.