Looking back at my MSci and forward to my PhD

MSci Pharmacology graduate, Melanie Seaton, may have just finished a four-year stint at The University of Manchester but she’s already ready to do it all again. Looking ahead to her PhD in Cancer Studies, Melanie explains below why the Pharmacology degree is perfect for students who love lab work and how she’s now following her childhood dreams…

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Whenever a prospective student asks if I’ve enjoyed my time at Manchester, I feel there’s no better evidence than the fact that I just finished a four-year degree here and now I’m about to do another one! I recently finished my undergraduate degree and I will be starting my PhD here in October.

I graduated from the integrated master’s course with my MSci Pharmacology degree in July. The MSci is mostly the same as the BSc course but with an extra year on the end, and I couldn’t recommend it enough for those of you who love working in the lab! In the final year, you complete a year-long project in the research lab of an academic of your choice, and I had a fantastic time studying mechanisms of inflammation in vascular dementia in Prof Stuart Allan’s lab.  I even got to present my work at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research with a bursary provided by the university!

The jump from attending lectures and revising for exams to spending most of my time working in the lab, analysing data and writing up my research was a significant change of pace, but I loved it. There’s a great sense of being independent and in control of your work, and so you take great pride in the final poster and report! The MSci degree is a great way to gain experience working in a research lab and to help you decide if research is the right career pathway for you.

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My time on the MSci showed me what studying in a research lab would be like, and I got to meet many PhD students and get their advice and listen about their experiences. This confirmed that a PhD was the next step for me, and gave me the necessary experience to secure a place on the PhD Cancer Science programme at The Manchester Cancer Research Centre. Here, I will be studying in a cutting-edge research facility to develop new biotechnology for the detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.

Many aspiring scientists, including myself at one point, dream of being the one to “cure cancer”, but since then I have learnt so much during my pharmacology degree about how cancer works and how science is done. I now have much more realistic and achievable goals of simply being part of a team that improves outcomes for cancer patients. The “Big C” is a very scary prospect for anyone to think about, and I, like many others, would love to help eradicate one of the most common and deadly diseases facing the world today. Completing a PhD in cancer science will place me in the perfect position to start a career as a researcher who can join the battle against cancer and make a positive impact on the world.

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Doing a PhD will give me further valuable experience in planning and carrying out my own research, working in a research laboratory environment, solving problems, analysing data and writing up my research, which will be very useful in my future career as a researcher. As a PhD student, I also hope to get some more experience in communicating my work to others, presenting at conferences and hopefully making some useful contacts in the field. Being able to use the title of Dr. will be pretty cool too!

I have absolutely loved my time here so far and can’t wait to start all over again!


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