Shaun Hanley | PHD Student at Aston University

What is your current role?

I am a PhD student at Aston University on the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) doctoral training programme. On the programme, we have 3 months of training in: quantitative skills – computer programming, mathematical modelling, data science, and statistics – at the University of Warwick; science communication at the University of Leicester; and responsible research practices at Aston University. This is followed by two 3-month mini-projects: my first mini-project is investigating immunomodulatory effects of titanium alloys at the University of Birmingham and my second is investigating the role of different proteins transferred in extracellular vesicles in Parkinson’s disease at Aston University.

My main PhD project is investigating how sphingolipids transferred in extracellular vesicles contribute to immune cell communication. During my main project, I will also take time out for a 3-month Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) in any field outside of scientific research focussing on managerial, administrative, or organisational aspects – examples include: economics, research governance, intellectual property, business development, education, media and press, government policy, marketing, and advertisement.

How has your Biomedical Science degree helped you in your current role?

The MSci Biomedical Science degree programme developed not only my subject knowledge, but it also allowed me to cultivate my interest in immunology, and later extracellular vesicles. Without this prerequisite knowledge, I would have found it difficult to understand and adjust to the projects I will be working on throughout my PhD. Beyond this, the programme encouraged me to push myself, advancing my transferrable skills and personal development; I would never have had the confidence to apply for a PhD or the resilience to complete it (so far) without this. Studying on this programme, which has a research focus, I found how much I enjoyed research which led me to pursue a PhD; before studying on the Biomedical Science course, I had never considered a career in scientific research.

Why did you choose to study at Birmingham?

 I initially chose to study BSc Biomedical Science at UoB because of the wide range of teaching in different fields across biomedical science but also the opportunity to specialise towards the end of the degree, giving both a breadth and a depth of knowledge. I then chose to transfer onto the MSci programme as much of my time at university was affected by the pandemic and so my practical lab experience was limited, and I wanted the opportunity to undertake an extended research project.

I chose Birmingham because I wanted to stay close to my hometown but also experience life in a big city. I then chose UoB because of the ground-breaking research at the university as well as the large student body and the societies at the Guild of Students. 

Shaun HanleyShaun Hanley

Degree: MSci Biomedical Science 

Current position:  PhD (Cell Biology- Immunology) Aston University