Tell us a bit about yourself and your background – e.g. where and what did you study prior to undertaking your Master’s?
After growing up in the Middle East, I finished schooling in my home country of Sri Lanka. I've always been fascinated by the intricacies of biology, and so came to London to do a BSc Biochemistry at Imperial College.
Where / what are you working on now?
Although the global situation because of COVID has put a spanner in the works, I'm currently searching for a PhD alongside exploring jobs and graduate schemes at universities and biopharma companies.
What motivated you to choose this specific course as opposed to studying elsewhere?
After my BSc, I knew I wanted to follow a career in research but wasn't sure what field I most enjoyed. Being at Imperial College already, I was aware of the number and quality of researchers, and the breadth of themes available through the Faculty of Medicine. The MRes Biomedical Research provided an opportunity to experiment with what I may like to pursue long-term.
What did you enjoy most about this programme?
I really enjoyed a longer lab-based research project that exposed me to new techniques, increased my awareness in a new area of biology, and made me feel integrated in the research culture of a friendly and supportive lab group. These were things I was hoping to gain from my Master's, so I was happy to learn more about research life and my work style in the process.
What aspects did you find the most challenging?
Adjusting to new labs and routines certainly took some getting used to. During the lab rotation, incorporating travel between the Hammersmith Campus and lectures in South Kensington was another factor to consider when I needed to plan out lab work. Additionally, adjusting to life in lockdown while starting our second rotation as a literature project was unexpected, and getting my head around the topic area was a slow process (it just takes a substantial amount of reading). Once I established an outline, it became easier to focus on the relevant papers.
What are the main skills you gained as a result of studying on this course?
Apart from lab skills, the literature review provided the opportunity to practice searching for papers, assessing research methodology, and developing an overarching creative and critical mindset when it comes to reviewing articles. As my thesis also had a grant proposal element, the Grant Writing Exercise from the course helped me learn grant structure and experimental design considerations.
How did receiving a Faculty of Medicine postgraduate scholarship benefit you and your studies?
As an International Student, the scholarship offered a level of financial support to offset the cost of living in London. Some of the scholar activities weren't possible after lockdown started, but it would've been nice to connect more with my peers and learn about their research projects at the poster session or meet-ups.
What are your goals/direction for the future?
The MRes has inspired me to follow a career in research, so I'm focusing on finding PhD study in the field of cell biology in disease, specifically cancer. From there, I want to contribute to projects in academia or industry, with the hope of supporting a cause that will have a positive impact on the patients who need it the most.