Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at JIC and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it. 

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Marie is a fourth i.e. final year PhD student working with Lars Østergaard in Crop Genetics. Her project started by looking at pod length diversity in Brassica napus (which includes oilseed rape) and has since led her down a long meandering path to look at embryo development and the cell cycle. She has grown up in Belgium but sadly only started liking beer after she moved away so is now working on tasting her way through the great Belgian beers!

Twitter: @MaBruser

The Project Song – Highs and Lows by Emeli Sandé

“I tried to find a song related to oilseed rape, embryos and the cell cycle but perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any that touched on this topic (please get in touch if you have one up your sleeve!). Instead, I chose Highs and Lows because that definitely describes what I’ve gone through! A PhD seems to be a constant rollercoaster – the project changes and leads you down new roads, experiments fail, results don’t show what you expect… but it also makes you super excited when something does work, when you have a phenotype, when genes are expressed where you hoped… and overall there are definitely more highs than lows!”

The PhD Life Song – Fighter by Christina Aguilera

“It’s an old one but that doesn’t stop me from getting a buzz from it every time I listen to it! This song makes me determined to succeed, to re-run that PCR that hasn’t worked 6 times, to go and sample what feels like a million plants for DNA extraction and to get the perfect image to show what I want it to. And my PhD has definitely made me stronger, wiser and smarter!”

The Motivational Song – Bare Necessities from the Jungle Book

“Who doesn’t like this song?! This actually became my motivational song when I started my PhD as someone in the lab was in her final year and being stressed and so we began pinging this song to each other on a bad day. It still gets me every time and it’s a song I don’t mind having stuck in my head all day long. So just “forget about your worries and your strife”!”


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!


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