Blog posts

Linshan Chu: ‘I learnt how to develop personal qualities and habits as a young scientist’

What is your name? 

Linshan Chu

Where are you from? 

China

To which class do you belong? 

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2020

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London? 

I completed my bachelor course in Bioengineering at the University of Sheffield

How did you find your Master experience at the College? 

The course structure is quite impressive: for the first six-month, it consists of a series of modules, one after the other one, instead than all the lectures at the same time. The second six-month is entirely dedicated to the research project. It took me some time to adjust to this teaching model, but it suited me, and I became more efficient in organising my time. However, although there were no ‘exams’, there were several assignments to work on: it was quite hard to concentrate on the course content as well as the assignments at the same time. For the project, it was exciting to be fully involved within an actual research environment and work alongside PhD students and post-docs. I trained in several experimental techniques, and it was a precious scientific experience for me. Overall, this year really made me grow a lot: besides the neuroscience knowledge I was exposed to, I learnt how to develop personal qualities and habits as a young scientist

Which research project did you work on? 

The title of my project is ‘The underestimated role of leptin: Leptin signalling in neuroregeneration’. Professor Simone Di Giovanni supervised me

Where are you now?  

Oxford, UK

What are you working on? 

I am currently doing my PhD at the University of Oxford

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student? 

Be true to science, do not ignore anything that seems not right, however tiny it might be

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now? 

The high-pressure studying pace made me study more efficiently, and I learnt how to be calm when I face challenges. Moreover, the six-month project helped my current academic life. It made me realise how amazing it is to be a scientist and made wanting to continue working in the neuroscience field

Neta Fibeesh: ‘Hard work definitely pays off’

 

What is your name?

Neta Fibeesh

Where are you from?

I was born in Israel, but I have been living in London, UK since I was 3 years old

To which class do you belong?

MSc Translational Neuroscience 2021-2022

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London?

BSc Biomedical Sciences at the University of Birmingham

How did you find your Master experience at the College?

I found the MSc experience challenging yet immensely rewarding. It has been an opportunity to be taught by world-leading scientists who are driving current research and meet like-minded peers.

Which research project did you work on?

My research project involved elucidating the link between microglial senescence and circadian rhythm disruption in Alzheimer’s disease at the Marco Brancaccio lab, which is involved in the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI). Throughout such, I have developed invaluable skills varying from practical technique to critical thinking. I am very grateful for the lessons learnt and the supportive guidance I was provided with by the entire lab and in particular, my supervisors Natalie Ness and Dr Brancaccio

Where are you now?

I am in Israel due to start a PhD at Tel Aviv University under the supervision of Dr Ben M. Maoz and Professor Uri Ashery

What are you working on?

The preliminary title of my PhD is ‘Utilising induced human neuronal cells and a Brain-On-a-Chip platform to decipher the molecular consequences of mutations linked to familial Parkinson’s disease’ and I am highly looking forward to getting started

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

The most important lesson I have learnt is to maintain resilience and motivation. During my research project, I spent a significant amount of time attempting to optimise a technique which was not working the way we hoped it would. Despite such, I persevered and ended up introducing a new technique to the lab which had not been used prior to my project. This experience has taught me that research does not always go the way you plan, and that hard work definitely pays off, because we ended up producing some exciting results!

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now?

The master’s reaffirmed to me that I have a keen interest in cellular and molecular neuroscience. The taught component of the MSc consolidated my conceptual understanding of various topics within the field and the subsequent research project has enabled me to put this understanding to practise. I would like to think I have developed as a scientist, and I hope to apply these skills to my future studies and research

Hamida Mussa: ‘It was the most perfect year!’

 

What is your name?

Hamida Mussa

Where are you from?

Tanzania

To which class do you belong?

MSc Translational Neuroscience, class of 2022

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London?

BSc in Biomedical Sciences at University of Warwick

How did you find your Master experience at the College?

Overall, the experience was amazing. It taught me a variety of new skills, exposed me to a more challenging environment and gave me the opportunity to meet with lots of wonderful people that I now call my friends. It was the most perfect year!

Which research project did you work on?

My research project was titled ‘The role of arginine deprivation therapy on the tumour microenvironment of arginine auxotrophic glioblastomas’. My research entailed trying to understand how arginine deprivation affected the immune microenvironment of a subset of glioblastomas that cannot make their own arginine. I worked under the supervision of Dr Nelofer Syed

Where are you now?

I am currently applying for research assistant jobs in many universities so that I can continue my research on glioblastomas

What are you working on?

I hope to continue working on arginine deprivation therapy as a potential therapy for glioblastomas

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

The most important lesson I learnt is how to be more independent and drive my own research. During my research project, I was given the opportunity to design my own experiments and take control of my research because it was my project. I was given advice by my post-doc supervisors and the principal investigator. Together, we came up with a feasible and well-structured final experiment while maintaining my original idea. Although this was very challenging, it was very rewarding too and taught me a lot about research and how much thought goes into ensuring an experiment is designed to be robust.

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now?

This programme allowed me to be part of a dynamic research group, where I learnt a variety of different wet lab skills I previously had no experience. Without this programme, I don’t think I would have been so certain that I wanted to continue doing research and working in a lab as part of my career. I am very proud of where I am today and am grateful for being able to complete this MSc at Imperial amongst some of the best researchers.

Yuyang Yan: ‘I am so lucky I could develop my interest in axonal regeneration’

What is your name?  

Yuyang Yan

Where are you from?  

China

To which class do you belong? 

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2020

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London?  

BSc Biochemistry at The University of Liverpool

How did you find your Master experience at the College?  

Perfect. It gave me the opportunity to explore the area I am really interested in. It also provided me with the basis of scientific research and how to be a young scientist

Which research project did you work on? 

Studying the mechanisms underlying axonal regeneration

Where are you now?

​I am a research assistant in Professor Simone Di Giovanni’s lab

What are you working on? 

I am working on the characterization and correction of Cdkl5 nuclear function in human CDD neurons during maturation

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student? 

To solve a problem independently, to work independently as well as in a team

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now? 

All the modules are instrumental in understanding the basics of neuroscience as well as designing experiments to answer a specific research question. Moreover, my personal tutor gave me many useful suggestions, not only for my master, but also for my future plan. Last but not least, I am so lucky I could develop my interest in axonal regeneration. I did my master project in Prof. Simone Di Giovanni’s group, which was friendly and lovely. This lab experience deepened my interest in axonal regeneration, I became familiar with all the lab members, and I decided to stay in this perfect lab for my future study

Cynthia Lam: ‘My Master experience at Imperial has been a kind of magic’

What is your name?

Cynthia Lam

Where are you from?

Hong Kong

To which class do you belong? 

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2020

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London?

I completed my BSc in Biochemistry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

How did you find your Master experience at the College?

My Master experience at Imperial has been a kind of magic. A mix of rewarding experiences, inspiring new technology, intellectual discussions, respectful and genuine people, stressful deadlines, fear of coding (at the beginning), and also life-long friendships. I have learnt so much from everyone I met in the course, and I am very grateful to be part of this cohort. We were also taught the most up-to-date neuroscience topics and knowledge and useful, practical skills like neuroimaging techniques and analyses. Apart from the academics, Imperial has also given me a lot of support and opportunities: I was able to find a balance between academics and having fun, which made the whole experience less stressful!

 Which research project did you work on?

My research project was on the “Effect of psilocybin therapy for depression on low-frequency brain oscillations produced by music listening”, supervised by Dr Matthew Wall at Invicro

Where are you now?

I am now in Cambridge, UK

What are you working on?

I am now doing an MPhil at the University of Cambridge and looking for PhD opportunities. I have also started my own company in the therapeutic drug monitoring field

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

It has been challenging this year due to the pandemic, and therefore I have learnt to be flexible and adaptive

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now?

This program has definitely made me grow as a scientific communicator and have widened my perspectives of what research is like. I also really enjoyed my research project; hence I hope to pursue a career in academia

Dragos Gruia: ‘I am extremely pleased with where the course has taken me so far’

What is your name? 

Dragos Gruia

Where are you from? 

Romania

To which class you belong to? 

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2020

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London? 

I studied Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Essex

How did you find your Master experience at the College? 

My experience at Imperial has been a unique and enriching one. I knew I wanted to be a researcher before starting the MSc, but many aspects of neuroscience were still relatively new to me, mostly due to my background in psychology. The wide breadth of topics covered in the course allowed me to explore the field. It has also led me to an area of research that I love, but that I never considered before starting my course. More specifically, it led me to neuroimaging research and computational neuroscience, which I now hope to pursue during my PhD. In addition to this, I met many fantastic people which I now consider close friends, and whose paths I am very excited to watch unfold

Which research project did you work on? 

I worked on a computational project. I analysed fMRI data from a large sample of participants, focusing on resting-state and task-driven dynamics. I used brain connectivity estimates to explain individual differences in individual intelligence using a machine learning approach. This involved exploring different types of connectivity (functional vs effective) and different fMRI paradigms (resting-state vs task-related designs), and assessing which one is most predictive of intelligence and why.

Where are you now?  

I am at Imperial College London where I am currently  pursuing a PhD in the Department of Brain Sciences

What are you working on? 

My thesis focuses on longitudinally mapping cognitive deficits in stroke patients. The over-arching aim to is design and develop a clinical tool that can be used in the NHS acute stroke clinics, in combination with brain imaging metrics, to guide (and hopefully improve!) rehabilitation

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

The most important lesson I learnt is to work independently. Throughout the 6-month thesis, I was given a lot of freedom in choosing the analyses to run. This meant that I often needed to use my own judgement to come up with suggestions and modifications to the experiments, based on my literature review. These suggestions were often presented to my supervisors, and we all convened to a final decision in a joint meeting. This was very different from the typical dynamic where the PI tells you what to do, and you simply do it. Admittedly, it was somehow challenging at first, as I was new to computational neuroscience. But now I realise how lucky I am to have gained this skill and how key this is to become a young researcher 

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now? 

If it were not for the MSc programme, I probably would not have given computational neuroscience a try, thus missing out on an area I now find fascinating and that I rely on for my PhD heavily. Also, I would have never obtained the research position at Imperial that I currently hold. I am extremely pleased with where the course has taken me so far, and I am excited to see where it will take me next!

Ana Morello Megias: ‘This program has helped me to improve not only my curriculum but also my technical skills and my scientific thinking’

What is your name? 

Ana Morello Megias

Where are you from? 

I am originally from Panama but I lived almost all my life in Madrid

To which class do you belong? 

MRes Experimental Neuroscience, Class of 2021

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London? 

I did a Bachelors in Biomedicine at the University of Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

 How did you find your Master experience at the College? 

Great! It allowed me to explore different fields of research within neuroscience and to try and learn new methods, which is exactly what I was looking for in a masters program

Which research project did you work on? 

I did three projects. The first one was computational, with Professor Payam Barnaghi. The aim was to develop learning models for in-home sensory data analysis in dementia care. The second one was at Dr Marco Brancaccio lab and I studied the daily expression of the astrocyte water channel AQP4 in the context of Alzheimer’s disease. I did my last project in Madrid, Spain, at the laboratory of Dr Javier DeFelipe. I studied the dendritic spine morphology in layer III pyramidal neurons from the entorhinal, transentorhinal and temporal human cortex, using imaging and 3D cell reconstruction techniques

Where are you now? 

I started a PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University

What are you working on?

At the moment, I am studying

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

Research projects may have long-term and short-term objectives. It is important to know and focus on the priorities

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now?

I believe this program has helped me to improve not only my curriculum but also my technical skills and my scientific thinking, and, therefore, helped me become a good candidate for the PhD

Kofoworola Agunbiade: ‘Each time I completed a new challenge I felt more confident’

What is your name? 

Kofoworola ‘Kofo’ Agunbiade

Where are you from? 

I was born in Nigeria, but I currently live in Luton, England

To which class do you belong?

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2020

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London? 

I attended St George’s, University of London, where I completed a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

How did you find your Master experience at the College? 

Amazing. I learnt so much from the people around me and the teaching sessions. My background was mostly molecular and genetics, so it was refreshing to explore the cognitive and computational aspects of neuroscience. The unique teaching style implemented throughout the course was really exciting. Taking away exams meant that we didn’t have to focus on memorising facts, and we could engage in lectures and seminars without worrying about writing down every minute detail. It also meant that there was more time spent on developing skills that would help us as young scientists, such as creating a virtual research project (in Module 2). There were times where the course was challenging, but the experience was never stifling, and those challenges ultimately helped me improve in many ways

Which research project did you work on? 

For my project, I investigated the white matter structural abnormalities associated with alcohol dependence. I chose this specific project because I am interested in mental health and psychopharmacology, so this project seemed perfect for me

What are you working on? 

I am figuring out what my next steps will be. I’ve also been applying to some research assistant and PhD positions

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student? 

The importance of teamwork and collaboration. Everyone in the course came with a different skillset: we were able to learn from each other, develop new skills and pass on our knowledge to produce remarkable work. This is something I was reminded of during my research project, as I always found it difficult to ask for help in fear that it would make me look like I was incapable of doing certain tasks. But once I was able to overcome those fears and ask for help from people around me who had the knowledge and experience, I was able to grow and develop my project more efficiently than if I had just stumbled along on my own

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now? 

It allowed me to develop my interests further and gave me a clear idea of what I want to do in the future. I really enjoyed the challenge of research as well as the group environment, so during my research project I was set on a research career. The new skills I gained make me a competitive applicant. For example, I wasn’t the best at presentations at the start, and I had no previous knowledge of computational neuroscience. But having that practice and the opportunity to learn new topics has allowed me to grow and acquire new knowledge. I was able to tackle daunting challenges with minimal stress, and each time I completed a new challenge I felt more confident

Parnaz Sharifi: ‘I received encouragement, inclusiveness and respect from my classmates and teachers during my studies’

What is your name? 

Parnaz Sharifi

Where are you from? 

London, England

To which class do you belong? 

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2021

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London? 

I graduated from King’s College London with a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science  

How did you find your Master experience at the College? 

I found the Master’s experience to be challenging but extremely rewarding. Being taught by internationally recognised researchers and exploring multiple neuroscientific fields at one of the powerhouses in neuroscience research, provided me with the skills and in-depth knowledge needed for a career in neuroscience. Additionally, taking part in grant proposals, editorial reviews and live debates on cutting-edge neuroscience topics was a novel and enriching experience. I’m also very lucky to say that some of my coursemates have become amazing friends of mine

Which research project did you work on? 

My MSc laboratory research project aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underpinning the region-specific degeneration observed in the midbrain of Parkinson’s disease patients. Supervised by Dr Kambiz Alavian, my thesis focused on the role of the R-Type Ca2+ Channel and the mitochondria in the preferential vulnerability of nigral neurons in Parkinson’s post-mortem and in vitro models

 Where are you now?/ What are you working on? 

I am currently preparing my MSc research paper for journal submission, which is an exciting development in my academic journey. I am also applying for positions as a research assistant at a few universities to continue my passion for neuroscientific research

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student? 

This MSc has taught me to speak up more and be brave in presenting my ideas for discussion, instead of being concerned about how my ideas would be judged. This is all due to the kind encouragement, inclusiveness and respect that I received from my classmates and teachers during my studies

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now? 

Not only did the Master’s programme equip me with an extensive understanding of the different fields within neuroscience, but working in the Alavian Lab and being trained in the experimental methodologies used to investigate the underlying mechanisms of conditions like Parkinson’s, helped me realise that this is the type of research I want to be doing during my PhD. I think the work I conducted in the lab has certainly prepared me well for this

Shivani Patel: ‘Work hard, have faith, never give up!’

What is your name?

Shivani Patel

Where are you from?

Hertfordshire, UK

To which class do you belong?

MSc Translational Neuroscience, Class of 2018

Where and what did you study before joining Imperial College London?

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, University of Hertfordshire

How did you find your Master experience at the College?

Challenging yet extremely rewarding!

Which research project did you work on?

A neuropathological project with clinical elements titled, ‘A Clinicopathological Investigation of the Locus Coeruleus in Parkinson’s Disease with Cognitive Impairment’, supervised by Dr Bension Tilley and Professor Steve Gentleman

Where are you now? 

PhD student at Imperial College London

What are you working on?

I am continuing my research from the Master’s project in Professor Steve Gentleman’s lab

What is the most important lesson you learnt as a Master student?

Perseverance – work hard, have faith, never give up!

How did the Master programme help you get to where you are now?

The Masters programme provided me with first-hand experience in a laboratory within academia. It enabled me to build my contacts and connections, who then helped me better understand the different options available for PhD applications, as well as the way to apply for research grants