MCR DTP studentship past studentsResearch at Imperial College London is enabled by world-class expertise and takes place in departments rated 5 and 5* in the last RAE. Students who have received the MRC DTP Studentship are now participating in a wide variety of research topics throughout the College.

We recently asked our students what they like about the MRC DTP Studentship, what made them choose Imperial for their studies and about their activities and achievements. The following were put to them:

  • What were you doing before coming to Imperial?
  • Why did you choose Imperial College?
  • What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with? 
  • What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
  • What do you most appreciate about the Lab/Faculty/College?
  • What do you plan to do after you graduate?
  • Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
  • What opportunities have you benefitted from outside your PhD?

Expand each of the sections below to see what they have to say.

Accordion widget - Student profiles

Abel Tesfai (Writing-up)

Abel Tesfai Title of PhD project
Understanding the link between amino acids and vascular function in cardiovascular inflammation and sepsis

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
Student Ambassador at City Year London

Why did you choose Imperial?
1. Outstanding reputation and all the benefits that come with that including good research facilities.
2. I wanted a place where great students solved new problems as opposed to being in labs that survive on 'name' or past prestige.
3. Its located in London and however more expensive that may be, there's no other city like it.

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
Problem solving with people willing to help. When the culture is supportive it makes all the difference.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
The chance to have a rotation; I tried out Hammersmith Campus, working on oncology and also Brompton Campus working on pharmacological effects of nutritional supplements in an inflammatory setting.   As you can tell from the short descriptions, the two projects varied greatly and allowed me to be immersed in completely different lab cultures and research areas.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
Sometimes it can be frustrating going on to a 4 year programme if you have a year or two in industry or a previous masters, but I think being at Imperial is unique and in the long run the extra year offered by scholarship is vital to have a firmer grip on a subject you are interested in. The studentship allows you to match up reality with expectations. It also allows for great flexibility as you come in with funds as opposed to being tied to a particular supervisor, this puts you at a great advantage.  Also it is headed by an incredibly supportive director who has been immensely helpful at each stage of my Masters/PhD, with yearly symposium to get in touch with other students funded by the same programme.

Oliver Lyth (Year 3 PhD)

Title of PhD project
Role of a conserved Plasmodium complex in the invasion of host cells

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
Masters at University of Oxford

Why did you choose Imperial?
Excellent reputation in the Sciences combined and great scope for collaborations with other groups in London

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
I enjoy working towards a greater goal. Even if something doesn't work, something can be learned. Troubleshooting problems with colleagues and taking on board their advice.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
Additional funded 6 months write up period at the end of the research period.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
Show your passion and enthusiasm

Tom Bond (Year 3 PhD)

Tom BondTitle of PhD project
Life course epidemiology of diabetes

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
Studying medicine at Southampton

Why did you choose Imperial?
Imperial has a reputation for excellent work in my field (public health and epidemiology). However the main reason I chose to come to Imperial was that it gave me access to both excellent supervision in my chosen area, and unique data (from the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts).

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
I get very over-excited when I get new results. The moment when you have found a new association, and you are the only person in the world who knows about it, is very cool.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
I most valued the fact that funding is available for four years, which allowed me to do the MSc Epidemiology before starting my PhD. I have found doing the MSc first invaluable- it has given me a broad base of knowledge which I think would have been hard to pick up during the PhD.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
At the moment I am planning to continue in academia, with post-doc jobs or a fellowship.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
I think it was useful to me to have a clear idea of the work I wanted to do for my PhD, and to have researched the options which were available to me in terms of potential supervisors as thoroughly as possible.

Helen Groves (Year 3 PhD)

 

Helen GrovesTitle of PhD project
How respiratory infections affect the gut microbiome

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
Undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds

Why did you choose Imperial?
Predominantly because I wanted to do my PhD at a university that specialised in, or was world renown for, science. I felt that at a place like Imperial College there would be experts in almost all areas of biology which, once I'd completed my Masters year, would give me the most choice of what I wanted to do for my PhD.

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
I think the thing I most enjoy about my day to day work is having pretty much full control over how I structure my day. If you feel like getting in late(ish) but working till 9pm then you can, if you prefer to get in at 8am and leave early then that's fine too. If you want a desk day where you catch up on all your reading because you're not feeling very energetic then you can. Alternatively if you need a break from the computer, but don't have any experiments of your own that need doing, then there's always someone else in the lab who you can help and then you have the added benefit of learning a new technique. The office I work in is pretty social, most people have lunch together and there are often little trips to the pub, particularly after long days. I think it's really important to get on with your group and to feel comfortable around them as you're going to be there for at least 3 years.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
The opportunity to "test run" two different groups in two different areas of biology. A PhD is a big commitment and you need to be fully on board with no reservations, so having a Masters year where you can try out the type of lab work you'd be doing (e.g. you might find you really don't like working with animals) and getting to know the people you'd be working with is really useful.

Sean Kassen (Writing-up)

 

Sean KassenTitle of PhD project
The development and application of novel crystallisation methodology to medically relevant proteins

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
Did voluntary work experience at the University of East Anglia and a breast cancer charity on cancer-related research. Before that, completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science after initially training and working in the business sector.

Why did you choose Imperial?
I want to pursue a research career and decided on completing a Master's degree and used it as a stepping stone to my doctoral studies. I was aware of Imperial College's teaching and research reputation, both nationally and also internationally and found a Master's course which ticked all the boxes. As a London-based institution, it is ideally placed to leverage its location to prospective local and international students and maximising this to enhance its status further as one of the premier universities globally. I wanted to be part of a place that values diversity and has a strong ethos of excellence and achievement. I am proud to be an alumnus of Imperial College.

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
My day to day work is varied and interesting and I get to work with very experienced researchers and my current team have taken me under their wings and nurtured and skilled me up with great care and support. I enjoy the flexible and relaxed nature of our group and value our various research collaborations, at IC, nationally and internationally, in our pursuit of our research aims.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
Being part of a cohort of students is invaluable and allows for interactions between fellow MRC funded students through events like the annual Imperial MRC DTP Colloquium at the start of each academic year. This allows for catching up with other students on the programme which you may not see regularly and also meeting the new cohorts that joins yearly and offering them advice about life as a research student and any general input about life at Imperial etc. Also, the Colloquium is very helpful as it covers different themed topics which is valuable for us as research students and future researchers, such as a recent workshop on science policy in government; and developing a research profile and planning for a life and career after your doctoral studies. There are many other benefits which can be explored on the MRC DTP webpages.

What do you most appreciate about the Lab/Faculty/College?
The diversity. I love working with people from different cultures and backgrounds and feel that this rich mix of talented students, researchers and academic staff from all over the world is what makes Imperial what it is today. Long may it continue.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Possibly a future career in research. If not, I am open-minded about the future and will see what opportunities come my way over the next few years. I would like to keep my feet in the sciences if possible, as it is what makes me happy.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
A bit of a cliche, but work hard, play hard is definitely a motto to adopt. Pace yourself so you don't burn out before the end of your studies. Patience, motivation and perseverance are definitely traits needed for completing a PhD, so don't throw in the towel at the first site of a problem. Keep the lines of communication open with your PI/supervisor and postdoc and if you are not happy with your supervision raise it with your supervisor. If that is not possible, seek out your secondary supervisor and/or a mentor to discuss any relationship and/or work-related issues. Don't let it drag on as it will impact your work, mood and commitment to your studies. Also, don't suffer in silence, your emotional well-being and overall mental health is just as important as your research and studies. Get in touch with free counselling services on campus in need. A problem shared is a problem halved.

What opportunities have you benefitted from outside your PhD?
I participate as part of our group in the annual Imperial College Science Festival which allows us to communicate our research and science in general to a wider audience outside Imperial. Communicating science to the general public is a public engagement activity which I thoroughly enjoy as it allows me to connect with children as little as 5 years to adults well into their years about what we do and the value of our work to society. This also allows me to try and inspire the younger generation to follow a path into science and make them passionate about it.

Additional information
A research paper written in our group has just been accepted for publication in Nature: Scientific Reports. It will appear in the journal in January 2016. I am not the first author, but am a noted author on that paper and it involves research work which I completed as part of a 6 month lab rotation whilst completing my MRes Biomedical Research degree. Hopefully, this will be the first of many.

Christine Styles (Writing-up)

Title of PhD project
A Study of Epstein Barr Virus Oncoproteins EBNA3A and EBNA3C In Vitro and In Vivo

What were you doing before coming to Imperial College London?
I did my BSc in Biology with Microbiology and my MSc in Virology, both at Imperial

Why did you choose Imperial?
I originally chose Imperial due to its international reputation as an institution and its focus on research. I have remained here for all three of my degrees as Imperial remains a world leader in the fields of research I am most interested in, with excellent lecturers and labs in which I am fortunate to be a part of.

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with?
I enjoy the fact that I love what I do. I have always been passionate about learning and research and I am very fortunate to be able to work on a subject that interests me, to the benefit of knowledge within that subject.

What do you most value about the MRC DTP Studentship?
I value the studentship as it enables me to continue my studies and is enabling me to fulfill my ambition of gaining a PhD and starting a career in research. The studentship provides considerable support through the PhD process and also provides interesting talks and networking opportunities.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
After I graduate I hope to continue working in research and plan to undertake a post-doc position to do so.

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP Scholarship applicants?
I would recommend researching the lab groups you want to work within. Ensure you meet the PI and researchers of that group, and have a look around lab