Hi. My name is Abi and I’m a
final year Speech and Language Therapy student at the University of Manchester.
For the past 4 years I have studied communication and eating and drinking
impairments! Throughout my course I have also had clinical placements, working
in hospitals, schools, clinics and patient’s homes.
I am also a student ambassador
which means I represent the university on campus tours, school visits, and open
days. I’ve loved my time at the University of Manchester and want to tell you
about something that has massively helped me during my studies – mentoring.
What is my experience of mentoring?
Mentoring is a relationship
whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to help
someone else to progress in their life, study, career and so on. A mentor could
be a friend, family member, leader in your community, academic staff etc. Whilst
at university I have both been the mentor and the mentee!
I have mentored younger students
by sharing my experience of university life. For example, I started a society
to inspire students to pursue social justice and later handed the leadership on
to a girl called Amy. Mentoring Amy looked like going for coffee a couple of
times per term and being at the end of the phone if she needed advice.
I have also been mentored myself,
both personally and academically. Through my faith community I have received
regular mentoring from inspirational leaders. They have helped me to think
through decision making processes, like what career opportunities to pursue and
how to spend my time whilst in Manchester. During my first year it was also
great to be mentored by a peer on my course, they lent me textbooks and
answered any questions I had about the course. Being mentored has made me more
confident. I have learnt so much about myself and the world around me by
listening to wise mentors!
How can you make the most of a mentor at university?
Hopefully those brief examples
have shown you how helpful and game-changing mentoring can be. Mentoring can be
informal or more formal, it’s really what you want it to be. University can
feel like a big step up, both academically and personally. I want to reassure
you that there are ways to reach out for help and surround yourself with
amazing, supportive people.
I’m now going to share a few handy mentoring tips:
someone – it sounds obvious but ask someone to be your mentor! This can be
someone at home who you’ll call or meet up with a few times a term, or it could
be a person you meet whilst at university. They may say no (this has happened
to me!) but that is ok, another person will be delighted that you’ve asked them!
Do you have an older sibling, club leader, family friend you admire and want to
an agreement – Mentoring takes commitment, so it’s a good idea to make a
plan with your mentor. When will you meet/call? What do you want to get out of
mentoring? Pinning down the details should leave more time to discuss what
matters during your meetings.
stories – If you’re stuck for how to start your first mentoring session why
not share your story. For instance, what drew you to studying your course? Why
did you pick your university? What are some important moments for you from the
past year? Even if your mentor already knows you pretty well it’s powerful to
tell your story. This sounds deep, but you will get so much more from mentoring
if you can bring your whole self to sessions. Maybe your mentor will also share
their story with you too!
questions and hang out – Hopefully your mentor will be ready with
some probing questions, but you can also ask more about their experiences. I
was once mentored by someone who had similar passions to me, and I loved asking
her questions! For example, who has been most influential in your life? How did
you balance work and play? I agree with the experts who say that most of
mentoring is ‘caught not taught’. Spending time with a mentor can make a
lasting imprint on you. So, hang out with your mentor, observe how they live
their life, and be inquisitive!
Hi, my name is Emma and I currently work as a graduate
intern at The University of Manchester. Before I was an intern, I was a student
here! I studied Psychology and graduated in Summer 2019. I chose Psychology as
it was my favourite subject at A-Level and I chose Manchester as I loved the
city and also the Psychology course allowed me to do a Study Abroad year. This
means that my third year of University was spent 3204 miles away from Manchester,
studying at The University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US!
What was it like to Study Abroad?
I won’t lie, the first two weeks that I spent in America
were super hard. I had so many questions running through my head…
Have I made the right decision? Will I ever get used to this new country? Will
all my friends still be my friends when I get back? But, just as with my first
two weeks starting in Manchester, all of the worries and fears disappeared as
soon as I got into the flow and got more used to my surroundings. Through fun
events put on by the International Programmes Office at UMass, like American
football games, quizzes and BBQs, I made friends with lots of other British and
Australian exchange students who were all going through the same culture-shock
All of my American friends were amazing and super supportive,
I even spent the Thanksgiving holidays with one of my friends and her family.
It was also fun introducing our new American friends to all the finest things
about the UK… aka Love Island! I loved spending time with my American friends
and learning about their country but it was also super nice to have my UK and
Australian friends that were going through the same as me and to be able to
talk about our home comforts.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my Study Abroad year
was (funnily enough) the studying. The way University is structured in the US
is different to how we study in the UK. My timetable in the US ran so that
Monday, Wednesday and Friday were all the same and Tuesday and Thursday were
the same, whereas in the UK, each day is different. I actually liked the US way
better as it meant I had shorter lectures and was able to digest the
information better. In America, they also have mid-term exams (just like the
movies!!). This meant that instead of being tested just at the end of the
semester, like in the UK, you were tested more frequently throughout the year.
Again, I personally enjoyed this more as it felt like I was being tested on my
knowledge throughout and it meant I really did have to stay on top of my work!
What are the benefits of Studying Abroad?
The academic benefits of studying abroad are endless. I had
to adapt my learning style to fit in with the way University works in the US
and this meant that coming back to the UK for my final year, I was able to use
all of the new skills I had learnt and ways of working to help me achieve
higher grades. I was also able to take modules that aren’t available at
Manchester such as LGBTQ+ Psychology, Educational Psychology and The Psychology
As well as the academic benefits, there are so many personal
benefits to studying abroad. The most obvious personal benefit for me was
getting to travel. I’d never been outside of Europe before so getting to explore
cities like Boston, New York and Toronto was something I never thought I would
get the opportunity to do. Another personal benefit was gaining even more
independence and confidence. I feel like if I can just up and move to the other
side of the Atlantic on my own, there isn’t much I couldn’t do now. I’ve
also made friends for life – I’ve got friends up and down this country as well
as a best friend in Sydney and some of my closest friends dotted around the US.
If you can do a course that offers a year abroad or
semester abroad, I would say 100% go for it. The benefits are endless and you
will have the time of your life. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I
am so glad that I decided to go!
If you’re interested in finding out more about anything that
I have spoken about please head to these links for more info:
My name is Sirat Lodhi and I am a medical student at the
University of Manchester. After completing four years of medical school, I realised
I wanted to take a break from Medicine to study a new degree. This is known as
intercalation. I decided to pursue a Master of Research degree in Tissue
Engineering for Regenerative Medicine. Following this year, I hope to complete my
final year of Medicine so that I can graduate as a doctor.
Many medical students complete an intercalated degree so
that they can study a new subject which they may not have had the opportunity
(or time!) to study at medical school. As a medical student, I especially enjoyed
the small research projects I completed. However, I did not consider
intercalating until a supervisor suggested that a research degree may be for me!
Now, I am hoping to develop my research skills because I am certain that I
would like to pursue an academic career. I am interested in learning how to
repair and replace parts of the body that have been damaged by trauma or
disease. My research is in the field of kidney transplant surgery.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DONOR KIDNEY?
Good kidney function is important because the kidneys filter
our blood so that toxic waste can be removed from the body. Also, the kidneys
make urine. Unfortunately, there are over 60,000 people in the UK who are
suffering from kidney failure. These individuals need a kidney transplant to allow
them to survive - this is when someone donates their kidney to the patient. Once
the kidney has been removed from the body of the donor, it is stored in ice.
This is done because if the kidney is kept in a good environment, it will work
better in the person who receives it.
However, keeping the kidney in a cold environment is
damaging. Instead, it may be better to connect the kidney to a machine so that
warm blood can flow through it. This means the kidney can work just like it
would in the warm body. Although we know that cold storage can be damaging for donor
organs, this technique is still used in the NHS. Fortunately, there is
increasing research looking at developing techniques to keep organs alive in
WHAT DOES MY RESEARCH FOCUS ON?
Overtime, blood breaks down and damages the donor kidney. To
prevent this from happening, a ‘fake’ blood has been developed. My research
tests whether a warm solution of ‘fake’ blood can be pumped through pig kidneys
without causing damage. If the ‘fake’ blood is found to be safe, it could be
used to make donor kidneys work better in the new body. Most importantly, kidneys which are not good
enough to be donated could be improved using this technique so that more people
can receive a life-saving kidney transplant.
This is a very exciting time to be conducting transplant
research because the organ donation law is changing from spring 2020. England
will move to an ‘opt out’ organ donation system. This means that most adults will
be considered as being potential organ donors when they die. It is hoped that
this will increase the number of organs transplanted. This is very important
because there is a shortage in donor organs. For example, every year, around
60% of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are not offered a kidney so
they must continue waiting.
If you would to learn more about anything I have discussed
in this blog, please visit the links below!
An article about the transplant research lab that I am
working in can be found at:
If you are interested in studying Medicine, this is a good
website to look at:
If you are interested in becoming a scientist, this is a
good website to look at:
For more information about the NHS organ donation scheme,
please look at:
Hello! My name is Katie Sadler, and
I’m a second year PhD student in Genetics. A few years ago I wouldn’t have
guessed I’d be doing a PhD, but when I got restless as a graduate I decided I
needed a new challenge. My research focusses on using genetic variants to identify
people at higher risk of developing a type of brain tumour, called a vestibular
schwannoma (explained later!). In the future this should mean that patients
receive treatment sooner and hopefully help find new drug therapies.
Graduation Day! I'm in the middle.
I got here:
During high school I loved art and
textiles, and took Music Technology as one of my subjects in college. I also
loved my science classes... even maths! I found it really interesting when
science topics overlapped. Like using maths to figure out a chemistry equation,
which related to the function of a biological process so, I ended up taking Maths,
Chemistry and Biology at A level. I found it challenging!
I started my Genetics degree at the
University of Manchester in 2012. I had always found the topics of evolution
and inheritance fascinating, and during my degree I got especially interested
in human genetic disease. I went on to do a one year Master’s degree in Genomic
Medicine, again at the University of Manchester in 2015.
Then I got a job as a Genetic
Technologist in a hospital laboratory, a job I couldn’t have got
without my degree. I thought the job was great, regularly using the knowledge
and skills I’d gained at university to do laboratory work and analysis,
ultimately helping to provide answers for patients. After two years in the job
I wanted to further my knowledge and applied for a 3 year PhD course with the
University of Manchester.
The focus of my research project is
finding new genetic associations with tumours called vestibular schwannomas (a
vestibular what?!). Vestibular - because these tumours grow on the vestibular
nerve, one of the major nerves in the brain that is responsible for hearing and
balance. Schwannoma – because these tumours develop from Schwann cells, a type
of cell that surround nerves.
Vestibular schwannoma tumours often cause hearing loss and balance problems, as
well as other serious complications. Surgery to remove these tumours is an option, but it can
also cause hearing loss. Finding these tumours earlier and figuring out who is
at a higher risk of developing them would improve treatment outcomes for
patients and their families.
By identifying genetic variants
that increase the risk of developing these tumours, we would be able to risk
profile patients and their relatives. Giving us a better idea of how likely a
tumour is going to develop, if other types of tumour might appear and if the
tumour might be fast growing. Doctors can then use these risk profiles to
decide how often patients should come in for check-ups and MRI scans, helping
to find tumours earlier. Improving our understanding of the genetic variants
that cause these tumours could also help identify new drug treatments.
I enjoy doing my PhD project as
it’s pulling together different skills I have and is challenging me to gain new
ones, like coding and project management - the kind of skills I can highlight to
MRI scan showing a vestibular schwannoma tumour before and
If you’re interested in genetic
medicine and want to find out more there are some great FREE online courses
available on FutureLearn. You can do as much or as little of these as you want,
it’s a great way of getting a deeper understanding - https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/whole-genome-sequencing & https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/the-genomics-era
If you’re interested in studying
genetics at university, here’s a link to the University of Manchester course
page, there are other universities too! - https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00571/bsc-genetics/
Not necessarily genetics related,
but here’s a link to a BBC radio 4 podcast ‘More or less: Behind the
statistics’. They cover some very interesting current news topics and
scientific articles, digging deeper into the methods and numbers behind the
claims. I think they’re funny and great examples of critical analysis, a skill
that will come up again and again at university! - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrss1/episodes/downloads
If you have a Netflix account there
is a great series of mini documentaries called Explained. Episode 2 of season 1
is ‘Designer DNA’, where you get a quick overview of genetics and DNA editing. Here’s
a link to the series - https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80216752
Hi everyone! I’m Ioana, a first year PhD student in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, at the University of Manchester. My PhD project focuses on the therapeutic side of ischemic stroke at preclinical level. I spend a lot of time working with animal models, as they offer information highly translatable to humans.
I was born and raised in Romania, but I moved to Manchester to do my undergraduate degree in Pharmacology with Industrial Experience. I loved the university and the city so much, that I decided to stay. The degree offered me the chance to learn various laboratory techniques and to experience working with animals in research. However, when I started it, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do after.
Between my first and second year, I wanted to get more experience in science as I was trying to figure out what I wanted my future career to be. It wasn’t easy to find any internships available for first years, but I emailed my CV, emphasising my willingness to learn to 46 different places that were not advertising any opportunities at that moment. I only received 6 replies, but I was lucky enough to secure 4 internships. One of those was with a research group based within the University of Manchester, where I learned several laboratory techniques that I am still using today. The other 3 were with the nearby hospital. There I had a chance to learn how to obtain ethical approvals for a cardiovascular trial, to manage patient data for a health economic analysis and to shadow a research nurse as she was administering trial treatment to patients with leukaemia. I was learning so much while working for all these places at the same time, as they accommodated a flexible schedule for me. I also did some work in the charity sector with Citywise. All these experiences gave me a broad insight into various paths my career could take.
As part of my degree, I did a placement year at Mayo Clinic in the United States, doing a neuroscience research project working with both cells and animal models. That is when I realised that I really love working in a laboratory setting, especially in Neuroscience. I liked the flexibility of thinking and applying the knowledge in experimental planning and then undertaking the study. I loved it so much that I was sure I wanted to continue with a career in neuroscience research, so I went straight from my undergraduate degree to do a PhD project. I knew it won’t be easy at all, so finding a project I liked with a very supportive group that felt like a community was really important!
So, what is my project about?
In ischemic stroke, when the blood clot is formed, a drug is used to burst the clot, trying to restore the blood flow and to limit the damage. There is increasing evidence that inflammation also plays a role in enhancing the brain damage after stroke. So, there is an anti-inflammatory drug currently in clinical trials for different types of stroke. My project aims to find the most suitable way to combine the anti-inflammatory approach with the clot busting drug in a safe and efficient manner. To do this, I need to replicate the stroke observed in humans, as closely as possible, in animal models of disease. Using these, I can observe the interaction between the two therapeutic approaches at cerebral, vascular, cellular and molecular levels. For example, I am using imaging to monitor blood flow (image attached) and running MRI scans to see the extent of brain damage.
Monitoring blood flow in a mouse brain using Laser Speckle Imaging.
The PhD experience is not all just science. I love being active and involved within the community, hence why I participate in outreach activities, teaching, learning to code, organising events as part of a doctoral society and trying to learn French. Your PhD experience can be whatever you want it to be, tailored to your preferences and interests.
- Undertake your own research project by doing an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification), learn how and why?
- A list of undergraduate courses that would allow you to progress into a research career after:
- Learn more about stroke here:
- StrokeCasts - podcasts made by stroke survivors about their inspirational journey to recovery:
- Read about the research done by my supervisor and my colleagues here:
- Follow us on twitter: