Just five answers to five quick questions!
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Today we have second year student Lauren Grubb talking about her PhD experience!
1. Who are you?
I’m Lauren, a second year PhD student from Ontario, Canada. Before joining the rotation PhD program here at JIC, I received both a BScH and MSc in Biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. My MSc project was in the lab of Dr. Jacqueline Monaghan studying how plants balance immune signaling with growth and development. During my MSc, I also spent four months working in the Proteomics lab at The Sainsbury Laboratory with Dr. Frank Menke. After this experience, I knew the Norwich Research Park was the place I wanted to be for my PhD.
2. What is your PhD about?
Since I am in the rotation PhD programme at JIC, I spent my first year rotating in 3 different labs before choosing which one to join for my final project. I decided to pursue my PhD project in the lab of Dr. Myriam Charpentier. The Charpentier lab focuses on the generation of nuclear calcium oscillations, which are essential in establishment of symbiotic associations between the plant and beneficial microbes. Upon association, these microbes supply the plant with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which may not otherwise be available in usable forms in the environment, in exchange for carbohydrates. Understanding how these symbiotic associations are generated can provide insight into how we can improve yield of crop plants in nutrient-poor environments.
3. What is your favourite PhD moment so far?
If I had to pick just one favourite moment, it would be after just completing my PhD project proposal. It has been a great experience to develop a project that is exciting for both myself and my supervisor, and seeing everything down on paper has helped me feel motivated to get straight into the research.
4. What do you do to switch off from PhD?
Outside of the lab, I like to go swing dancing at least one evening a week. I also like being outdoors either exploring the many historic places in Norwich, or hiking around the Norfolk countryside.
5. What advice would you give a new PhD student?
Advice I would give to a new PhD student is to not be afraid to take time to read and plan out your project before diving right in. Projects can feel quite daunting at the beginning, but once everything has been put down on paper, it can seem a lot more manageable and can help motivate you to hit the ground running.
The other major piece of advice I would give is to get to know your peers, especially upper year students. Most are quite happy to share their experiences and advice, and they were in your position not too long ago. It can be helpful for knowing who to approach when learning something new, and its nice to have someone to gripe about the bad times and celebrate the great ones with.
All in all, remember to relax and enjoy the ride!
PhD Profile was concocted by Shannon Woodhouse. If you would like to be featured on PhD Profile, please email or find Shannon on Twitter @shwoodhouse.