Ashleigh Wilcox

MRes Biomedical Research: Integrative & Translational (2014)

Ashleigh WilcoxCurrently studying for DPhil at the University of Oxford

The extended lab project and subsequent thesis you write is good preparation for a career in Science, especially if you want to go on to complete further study. There is an experienced mentoring system in place in the school and the support available to students is excellent.."

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

Completing my MRes gave me invaluable experience in animal research and further developed my skills as an independent researcher, improving my suitability as a DPhil candidate. Securing a good PhD position in such a competitive graduate market can be challenging and having a Masters degree with strong research orientated components no doubt helped to demonstrate my ability to thrive in a research environment. This has led to me being able to embark on a career in scientific research already prepared.

What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

The project I am working on has potential for impact in the Neurobehavioural Genetics field. As a scientist, being able to study something that you not only find personally interesting but is also of interest to the wider research community is exciting. Also, being a junior member of an internationally competitive lab and part of a renowned unit for mouse genetics is great for my career development.

Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?

The fact that the course included Home Office licence training was a big attraction for me, as well as the reputation of the College of Medical Sciences. I was also looking for a course that was research focussed and the MRes appeared to be that.

What did you think were the best points of the course and the University?

The extended lab project and subsequent thesis you write is good preparation for a career in Science, especially if you want to go on to complete further study. There is an experienced mentoring system in place in the school and the support available to students is excellent. The relatively low number of students per year means that you spend a lot of time learning to work collaboratively as part of a small team but also the resources available per student are more than sufficient.

What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?

Deal with any problems you have as soon as they arise because time goes very fast, particularly when you are in the lab. For your thesis project, choose a lab that you think you’ll be most valued and supported in but also one in which your supervisor will let you take responsibility for your work and have input on the direction your project. Most importantly, have confidence in your own abilities.

How did you grow as a person by studying at University?

I gained more responsibility for my work as a postgraduate researcher and the confidence to question aspects of the research area based on my own problem solving, not having to rely on constant input from my supervisor to make significant advances in the lab.