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DPhil Student and Research Assistant with Dr Olaf Ansorge

Previous roles

Research Laboratory Technician (Oct 2013-June 2015), Research Assistant (June 2015).

Top tips

  • It can be sometimes challenging to juggle your degree and your work commitments. Before making an application, speak to your supervisor and ensure you're on the same page.
  • You ideally want a research project that follows on from your current work or is similar to what you're currently doing. Don't be afraid to tell you supervisor if a potential project isn't the most interesting for you or if you want to include a new technique etc.
  • NDCN provides financial support for tuition fees so be sure to make the most of this.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your supervisor about pursuing the option of a research degree; it benefits you and your supervisor's lab.

How did you come to your first role at NDCN?

After my undergraduate degree I wanted to gain some experience in a working laboratory environment to better improve my employability.

When I was volunteering at the Royal Marsden (London), I saw an NHS medical laboratory assistant position open up at the John Radcliffe Hospital. This position was 7 months of maternity cover. The month before the end of my contract a Research Laboratory Technician position opened up within NDCN. I was given a job offer by NDCN and after almost 2 years I moved from a general support role to a more specialist Research Assistant.

What influenced your decision to apply for a research degree in the department?

Although my first NDCN role included little research, I quickly made use of the seminars/training opportunities from NDCN and MSD and gathered a tremendous amount of insight into a potential career in neuroscience research.

Earning a higher-level degree allows you to better understand the landscape of research and sets the foundation for a long career in academia. However, I felt it would be wise to first apply for the MSc(Res), which would allow me to continue my employment, continue to improve myself and allow me to expand upon one of the research projects I was already working on and to use that to work towards an academic degree. I was accepted onto the MSc(Res) and have recently transferred my status to the DPhil programme.

Did you receive any support in making your application?

My supervisor Dr Olaf Ansorge and I discussed potential research proposals. He also reviewed my final application and the eventual presentation I gave at my interview and provided general advice on making a strong application.

How do your current day-to-day duties differ from before you started your degree?

Many of my day-to-day duties remain roughly the same. A larger percentage of my time is spent on my main project, reading and doing experiments. I more frequently attend lectures around the university and get more involved in student events. I also engage and collaborate with a wider variety of researchers. This sometimes means that certain prioritises get shifted but I found I can incorporate everything by planning ahead and ensuring everyone was aware of my new commitments.