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Scientific Growth - Experiences from a 2nd Year DTP Programme Student

last modified Jun 26, 2017 02:39 PM

Chiara Pantarelli, 2015 cohort PhD student in the BBSRC DTP Programme, works in the lab of Dr Heidi Welch at the Babraham Institute. As part of the DTP Programme she completed a rotation project with Dr Darerca Owen in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. Chiara researches Rac-GEF activity on leukocyte recruitment during inflammation and infection.

Here Chiara reflects on her experiences during her second year of the Programme.


This year has been a great year for my progress as a scientist. In September, I collaborated with Dr Welch to write a review regarding highlights of the protein we are studying. From this experience I've learned how to summarise results from different papers and how to collect and concisely report the different discoveries made so far in this field.

In October, I volunteered to become one of the PhD Reps at Babraham. Duties include resolving and reporting any issues within the postgraduate community to the Graduate Committee. Through this experience I've learned the importance of being reliable and supporting other PhD students.

In March, I gave my first talk at an international Conference in Genoa (Italy). This gave me the opportunity to practice my communication skills with people I hadn’t met before. Preparation for the talk included thinking about the data I had collected and reflecting on my progress since starting a PhD.

In May, I particularly enjoyed my latest experience organised by the Public Engagement Team at Babraham. I usually work with school and family groups, but this time I worked with a local adult community group. During this event I shared my PhD experiences with people who may not know what is required in planning and performing an experiment or how research is funded. The challenge was to break the ice and try to explain, in non-scientific language, what my research project is about and what we hope my research will help us understand in the future.

Recently I attended an international conference in America where I devoted some time to speaking with experts in my field, in order to learn about opportunities following my PhD. 

At the end of June I will be learning a new technique (Intravital Microscopy) at King's College London that will further my PhD research.

Finally, the other PhD Reps at Babraham and I are organising a symposium (SymBLS). It is an annual, one-day event for postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge and affiliated institutes. The aim is to bring together students and renowned keynote speakers to explore trending topics in the broad field of life science. We are learning much from this experience. 

I am so enjoying my PhD life that I wanted to share my experiences and encourage others to go out and get involved!