Assistant Professor at Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Army Medical College, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan
I am Dr Amir Rashid from Pakistan and I came to the University of Sheffield to do my doctorate in October 2006 in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MBB). From the moment I entered the Firth Court building, which houses MBB, I knew I had entered an extraordinary place. It is an impressive and majestic red-brick structure, the historical perspective of which engulfs you and also makes it a favourite spot for visitors. However, housed inside this traditional building are laboratories with state of art equipment managed by highly experienced researchers. This beautiful mixture of novelty and tradition endows MBB with character which is a unique and distinguishing hallmark of this department.
The department has a well structured training programme with clearly set milestones so that the students remain on track and their advancement is closely monitored throughout their stay. Although the supervisor is the lynchpin of the instruction, a dedicated training unit worked within the department to ensure that the highest quality of training is imparted to all students. This ensured that the students are continuously aware of their progress through feedback provided by senior faculty members, assigned as advisors, in regularly arranged formal meetings. In addition to this, the research environment is such that the students can consult any faculty member for guidance related to their research. As the department is home to research groups carrying out work in varied fields there was always somebody to answer queries or provide technical assistance. The department had weekly sessions where academics from the UK and abroad are invited to deliver lectures on their research. This was a very beneficial arrangement as it provided students the opportunity to broaden our horizons. The training programme ensured that in addition to the research we were carrying out in our labs we were also equipped to face the world outside the lab by arranging sessions with journalists and carrying our science to school children. This developed us in the art of promoting our research so that it becomes accessible to the general public and they realize the importance of science in their lives. Emphasis was also laid on developing teamwork and improving our presentation skills by arranging symposiums. In short it was a very comprehensive and well thought out scheme, which prepared the student as a complete person and was not restricted to just science.
Building on its rich tradition in research, the department boasts many well respected researchers who are engaged in research in the field of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and structural biology and producing up to 100 research publications each year. The laboratories are well equipped and through an integrated system all the highly sophisticated equipment was readily accessible within the department thus ensuring that no research of any student was hampered at any time. The collaboration and cooperation within the department in research related matters made the life of us students very comfortable and we fully benefitted from it.
From my first interaction with the department until my departure I felt a sense of belonging and caring. My stay at the department was one of the most productive and pleasant periods of my career. The experience of living in a culturally diverse city like Sheffield with my family was a very pleasant one. We felt very comfortable and safe in the city and valued our stay in this beautiful city. While I was busy in my research, my family had plenty of interesting places to visit and keep them occupied. I would like to end by saying that not only I got a PhD from MBB but more importantly I met people there the loving and compassionate attitude of whom I treasure and cherish to this day.