Aigli Evryviadou

Subject Medicine
Course PhD Cardiovascular Science
Country Cyprus
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What sort of major differences do you seen in MSc course as opposed to your PhD? As an international student, is it possible to find jobs with either of the degrees in the UK?

My MSc and my PhD were very different. The laboratory research component was much shorter during my MSc compared to my PhD of course. My MSc research project was mostly directed by my supervisor with little input from me in terms of design. For my PhD I am left more independent to figure out myself what to do when experiments do not work out. I have also many more responsibilities, for example now during my PhD I have to search, select and order myself the different biological reagents that I need for my experiments. I am also responsible for organising my time and my experiments for each day. Also, during my PhD I am expected to attend scientific conferences regularly and present my work at a professional level among other scientists and experts in the fields.

As an international student, I am not sure how easy it is anymore to find a job in the UK now after Brexit.

How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

After I finish my PhD course, I want to undertake a postdoctoral position in academia and thus continue performing biological/medical research. I expect that my PhD will equip me with all the required types of skills i.e. teach me how to perform specific laboratory techniques, how to analyse data using different types of software, how to design experimental strategies  and provide me with experience on writing papers and presenting my work at national and international conferences.

Have you joined any clubs or societies, gone on any research trips or done any volunteering?

Last year I participated in the Big Bang Fair which is a national event taking place every March in Birmingham and aims to inspire and enthuse primarily young people (aged 7-19) to study science. I volunteered as part of the British Society for Immunology team who was running a stand called “Allergy Busters”, looking at the science behind allergies and asthma through some interactive and fun activities. This experience helped me develop my public engagement skills and practice science communication with non-scientists. It is very rewarding to feel that you are having a positive impact on someone’s view of science.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

I really like the multidisciplinary approach that the course is taking.  My research group is part of a bigger multidisciplinary group (Vascular Inflammation, Thrombosis and Angiogenesis) that comprises seven different research groups. These groups organise regular seminars amongst them where every time a member of a different group gets to present their most recent work. When you present on these seminars you get the opportunity at the end of the sessions to receive some constructive feedback from people who have some relevance to your work in an informal setting which is always valuable. When you watch the talks of members from the other groups it helps you understand where your work stands in the wider field and where the field is going. These sessions are always followed by drinks and nibbles reception which is a great opportunity to socialize with other students and staff similar to you.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

This course I am undertaking will prepare and certify me for the research career I want to lead. I wanted to acquire firsthand knowledge of human biological processes that underlie disease through experimenting in the laboratory myself and not through just reading scientific books and articles where you take things for granted. I also felt the need to contribute to the unraveling of scientific information that can potentially contribute to the invention of techniques or agents to cure, prevent or ameliorate disease.