Name: Jeff Temblay
First degree: Biochemistry, UMIST (now University of Manchester)
Postgraduate: In third year of PhD validated by the University of East Anglia on the role of endritic cells in food allergy.
Currently: Working at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich.
Why did you choose your first degree?
I was interested in biology and chemistry so I decided to study biochemistry.
Did postgraduate study meet your expectations?
It did, but it’s very different to studying at university. It can be a shock to the system.
How did it differ from undergraduate study?
The main difference is that undergraduate work is very prescriptive. You have lectures, and pre-defined practicals (that’s to say at undergraduate level someone has done the practical before and there are already results). At postgrad level it’s more unpredictable. You have to organise your own time; the pressure is on yourself rather than having a timetable with university exams.
How did you fund your postgraduate study?
I am funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). You fill in application with your ‘research interest’ – a mixture of your CV, why you what to study at postgraduate level, and what you’ve done before.
What skills did you acquire from the study?
Independence is the main one. You will already have a skills set before you start the course, but you have to learn things very quickly and you need to apply those skills to different situations. Also, you get to understand more about the science community. You get to help write research papers, go to conferences, and see the backstage of science. Communication is another skill – I’ve had encouragement to engage with as many different audiences as possible – and I’ve done some teaching.
Do you have any advice for students considering postgraduate study?
The first thing you need is enthusiasm, you need much more interest in the subject. Second, there are many different careers you can go into. If anyone’s thinking of doing research it’s a good idea to get experience first. A course can be one year or three years after university, so you really need to have a liking for more academic work to stay the course.