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I'm in the 3rd year of a DPhil. I work with people with motor neurone disease (MND), applying brain scanning to understand the mechanisms of brain network degeneration and compensation.

can you describe a typical day?

I spend one day a week in the Neurology outpatient clinics working clinically and recruiting people with MND to various research projects. On other days, participants attend for research visits involving neurological examination, blood tests, lumbar puncture and MRI scanning. The remainder of my time is spent planning research visits, testing data analysis pipelines, and writing!

WHAT brought you to do a dphil?

Working as a junior doctor in the NHS, we routinely care for patients with neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MND). These conditions are a major societal challenge, with a lack of effective treatments for patients, and a wider impact on the families and carers. Looking for a project aimed at better understanding of neurodegeneration brought me in contact with the Oxford MND group and planning this DPhil.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT OXFORD?

At Oxford, you are surrounded by excellent fellow students and academics. While this can be a challenge for your self-esteem initially, our lab groups have become communities with mutual support and positive collaboration, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also get the independence to make decisions on study design and pursuing academic interests.

If you're interested in doing a DPhil, make direct contact with several people in labs you are thinking of joining. Try to gauge the vibe within the group and whether it will suit your overall style of working.