Studying Biomedical Science at Sheffield is one of the best decisions I've ever made

Katherine Meade
Katherine Meade
Now: PhD student, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
BSc Biomedical Science
Thanks to the practical research experience that she gained on her course, Katherine is now beginning life as a PhD student at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Katherine believes that studying Biomedical Science Sheffield was one of the best decisions that she has ever made.
Katherine Meade

What made you decide to study your course in Sheffield?

I decided to study Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield due to a combination of factors including the content (the vast amount of modules to choose from), and the facilities (e.g., the teaching laboratories and the Medical Teaching Unit for human anatomy).  I was also aware that the Biomedical Science course at the University of Sheffield is one of the highest rated amongst UK universities. I also really liked Sheffield as a city particularly its easy access to the Peak District National Park, the layout of the University and the style of the accommodation. Finally, the University of Sheffield Students' Union was also rated the highest in the country, and I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it had when I had been to visit on the open days. 

What have you enjoyed most about the course?

There are several aspects of the course that I have really enjoyed. Firstly, I have found the content of the course very interesting and enjoyed how it has linked to health and disease throughout. I have also thoroughly enjoyed completing practical classes, in particular those occurring over longer periods of time. For example, in level two we made Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody used to treat stomach and breast cancer, which we used to identify HER2-positive breast cancer cell lines. Then at level three I investigated whether the MED17.11 cell line could be used as a replacement for the rat dorsal root ganglion in research. I have also enjoyed where the lecturers have talked about their own research, as it is interesting and allows you to ask questions to an expert in that subject. Finally, I have particularly enjoyed the interaction with staff in journal clubs and whilst completing my dissertation as this allowed for greater discussion. 

What did you do for your BSc research project?

I chose to do a laboratory research project. The main aim of my project was to determine the molecular mechanism governing neuromesodermal progenitor (NMP),  a bipotent stem cell, cell fate decisions. I was provided with immunofluorescent images labelling two transcription factors in different conditions from Dr Tsakiridis’s lab and then quantified, analysed, and drew conclusions from this data which was then presented within my report. Although I was unable to complete this work in the laboratory due to COVID-19 restrictions, this experience allowed me to improve my skills in image analysis using Fiji and data/ statistical analysis in Graph Pad Prism.

What scientific skills have you developed during your course?

Through participating in scientific practical classes throughout my undergraduate degree I have gained skills in: restriction digests, transfections, immunolabeling, reverse-transcription-polymerase-chain-reaction, spectrophotometry, bench centrifugation, microscopy, using an automatic and blowout pipette, gel electrophoresis and human anatomy dissecting techniques.

What transferable skills have you developed during your course?

Some of the transferable skills that I have gained throughout my degree include skills in leadership, written and oral communication, analysis, teamwork, organisation, time management, essay writing and problem solving. 

What are you going to do next?

I am going on to study for a PhD in Dr Sean Munro’s Lab at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Dr Munro’s Lab focuses on the Golgi Apparatus and how it is central to the role of sorting and modifying proteins in the secretory pathway. My PhD will focus predominantly on protein retention in the Golgi and the relevance this has to normal functioning. Throughout the PhD I will be using technology including CRISPR and a FACS-based assay for Golgi retention. 

How did your Sheffield degree help you to secure your PhD?

In addition to the content covered within the degree, I feel that one of the main reasons that I secured a PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology was due to the support from staff within the department. This included suggesting the PhD as an option, helping with the application form, writing detailed references, and giving their time to help me practice for the interview stages. At the interview stage, being able to talk about the practicals that I had completed during my degree and my dissertation also helped substantially. 

I was also the chair of the Biomedical Science Student-Staff Committee (SSC) for two years and would highly recommend students to get involved. It is a great way to meet other students, share your ideas/feedback on the course and get to know the staff in the department. The SSC has always played an important role within the department, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic as it provided a very effective communication pathway between the department and the student body during this difficult time. 

What would you say to a prospective student considering studying Biomedical Science at Sheffield?

I would say that undertaking the Biomedical science course at the University of Sheffield was one of the best decisions that I have made. I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and even throughout the pandemic have found the department to adapt quickly, provide a high level of education and give a significant amount of support. During my time as chair of the Student-Staff Committee I also genuinely felt that the staff wanted to work with the student body where possible to provide the best university experience.

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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