A proactive method to secure a PhD


Published on

The 2015 series of Careers After Biological Sciences talks at the University of Leicester (UK) included two presentations by current PhD students. They had taken very different routes from their initial undergraduate degree into their further studies. In this presentation Dan Rogerson [BSc(Hons) Biological Sciences (Biochemistry), 2011] describes the proactive method he chose to secure his PhD place at a prestigious Cambridge laboratory.

Published in: Career
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

A proactive method to secure a PhD

  1. 1. A proactive method to secure a PhD Dan Rogerson
  2. 2. About Me Group Leader: Jason Chin Subject: Synthetic Biology “The design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems” “Re-engineering life”
  3. 3. Genetic Code Expansion
  4. 4. Genetic Code Expansion
  5. 5. Genetic Code Expansion tRNA Alanine mRNA Ribosome Alanine Alanine aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase
  6. 6. Genetic Code Expansion tRNA Alanine tRNA Lysine tRNA Serine Ribosome mRNA Alanine Synthetase Lysine Synthetase Serine Synthetase
  7. 7. R Genetic Code Expansion tRNA Alanine tRNA Lysine tRNA Serine tRNA Lysine E.coli Lysine Analogue = Lysine Synthetase E.coli E.coli: Lysine Synthetase M.Jannaschii tRNA Lysine M.Jannaschii
  8. 8. E. coli UAG: 321 E.coli Lysine: >20,000
  9. 9. AAA AAG UAG
  10. 10. Genetic Code Expansion Light
  11. 11. PhDs: Stuff to think about • Your own research project • Cutting-edge science in a field you find interesting • Lots of lab work, data analysis, reading and discussing results. • Results are very exciting But…
  12. 12. PhDs: Stuff to think about • Long hours • Things often fail • Independence – Can be good and bad • Limited by funds • Your success is highly dependent on your support – Choose your supervisor wisely!
  13. 13. So you want to do a PhD… • Find a topic you are interested in. Lots of reading. • Try to find out about the groups reputation – See if anyone in Leicester works on something similar. • Is their publication record good? • Work hard to get a good grade. Get experience where you can (summer placements). – Masters not necessary
  14. 14. Time to apply! • Are they offering a PhD position? • Is their recent work interesting? • Is the position funded? • Keep track of application dates – Oxbridge very early, other Uni’s deadlines are getting earlier too…
  15. 15. How I did it… • I wrote to every single group leader I applied to (2 in Cambridge, 1 in Oxford and 1 in UCL) • I came up with a potential project that the group leader would be interested in – Shows initiative and interest • Risky strategy – not easy to do and could be poorly received. • If your Tutor is willing get them to assess your ideas • Meet with them personally if you can • Lots and lots of reading
  16. 16. Example Dear Whoever, I am a 3rd year undergraduate student at the University of Leicester and I am very interested in your group’s research. I have been following your recent publications and I think there is potential to investigate Subject using Technique. If we were to do Experiment it would give insight into Outstanding Question, which would be interesting for Reason. Would you be free to discuss this by phone or in person, and would there be any opportunities for me to join your group to investigate this. Regards, Bob
  17. 17. If you chose to do this • Research thoroughly – be confident about what you are saying – If your undergraduate project is related, mention your experience. • Do not just copy the project description if there is a position being offered!!!! • Do not email an essay, just show interest and initiative. • Do not do this unless you are willing to back up your ideas with a discussion!!! • You may still need to apply officially through the University. • You may not end up working on what you propose – Ultimately you are trying to get your foot in the door.
  18. 18. If you get an interview • Prepare a presentation of your undergraduate project, offer to present it if you can. • Talk about the lab with current PhD’s/Postdocs if you can. – Ask questions about their work, the University/town, what they think of your ideas, the social life etc… • Be confident. • Good luck!