I did envisage going into industry after my doctorate but I’ve enjoyed my OU experience so much I might well stay in academia!
I am a neuroscientist and came to the OU after looking at quite a few PhD options as some of the best-known neuroscientists in the field work here. They receive funding because of their interesting and potentially groundbreaking research, making this a very exciting place to work.
The OU is also involved in a lot of major, high-profile collaborations – I’m involved in a project working on therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease and am part of an EU framework group with partners across several countries. If I need help with my research, I can email any member of my framework, but also have lots of chances to meet in person. I have been to Göttingen and Paris for meetings and have been to a conference in Israel. We recently hosted a similar event in which other members came here to Milton Keynes.
The OU experience does seem to be different from that at other universities. On the practical side, PhD students are so well looked after – I’ve got my own computer and my own office, which sounds like a small thing but it helps so much and is certainly not the case at many other universities. And my friends at other universities tell me they don’t get the opportunities that I do for collaboration with other researchers.
The OU campus is not like others, either, because of the lack of undergraduates, but there’s still a lot going on – there are many societies, pub quiz nights, barbecues etc., for those who want a social scene.
And outside the OU itself, the area has a lot to offer. Milton Keynes is certainly prettier than Manchester where I did my first degree! It’s quieter, too, but it has the same shops and if you need the bright lights, London’s only 40 minutes away.
The OU has certainly given me a taste for making a career as a researcher. I love working in the lab and I love working with so many excellent people. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself!
Nicola Corbett, UK. PhD: The effects of Fibroblast Growth Loop on the cellular composition and circuitry of the hippocampus in a rat model of Alzheimer's Disease.