Postgraduate Profile: Jessica Cross
What are you studying
I’m am studying for a PhD as part of the Bristol Chemical Synthesis Centre for Doctoral Training. I work in the Woolfson (Chemistry) and Dodding (Biochemistry) research groups designing peptides to target motor proteins in cells.
What do you particularly enjoy about postgraduate study in your department?
I enjoy the problem-solving nature of scientific research and am excited by uncovering new insights into how proteins behave inside cells. I really enjoy working on an interdisciplinary project, there is always something new to learn so it is never boring! My project is heavily laboratory based which I enjoy, I spend little time at my desk. I like the flexibility of my work and planning my own time. I am lucky to work with lots of amazing people who help me enormously and are also great friends.
Why did you decide to apply for your programme?
I decided to apply for a PhD because I really enjoyed the research project I worked on during my MSci and wanted to further develop my skills as a researcher. I applied to Bristol because I love the city and have always wanted to live here. The CDT I applied to was great because it meant I could try out several projects before choosing my PhD and it was easy to make friends since there was a cohort of 13 of us starting together.
What are the facilities in your department like?
Our department is very well equipped and has great facilities, you can almost always find the equipment you need for your work and people willing to help you use it.
How much support do you get from staff?
I have two dedicated supervisors who I see regularly and help me a great deal. I also get a lot of support from the post docs and other students that I work with.
How does postgraduate study differ from an undergraduate degree
As a post-grad you become much more independent and direct your own study, there is no syllabus to stick to. The research questions you are working on don’t have known answers and you have to work out which questions you should be asking in the first place. You have the opportunity to work on what interests you and get given a lot more flexibility. You need to become good at planning, managing your time and organising your ideas. Your work has the potential to be published and contribute new knowledge and ideas to the field.
Is there anything you would want to tell a prospective postgraduate student considering studying Chemistry?
Make sure you like what you are doing and the people you’ll be working closely with. Studying for a PhD is great fun but it is hard work and you need to care about what you are doing. Think about how you like to work, do you enjoy being in the lab or working at a computer more? Chemistry PhD projects and research groups vary enormously in their content and work style so it’s important to choose carefully.