Alumni profile - Dr Rizwan Ullah
My time and study at Barts improved me not only from a scholarly point of view, but also helped me to utilise my experiences for the betterment of my students both here in Pakistan and abroad... I found Barts' facilities, student support and London’s diverse cultural environment made adjusting as an international student very easy.
Why did you study a Masters in Oral Biology at Barts and the London? What sparked your interest in this specific degree? It was a passion of mine to pursue a speciality in Oral biology since my undergraduate studies. I was working as a lecturer before applying for this programme. Meanwhile, I was actively looking for an opportunity to start my specialisation. Queen Mary was among the very first universities that offered this specialty in the United Kingdom. Course content, the research component, the experience of a metropolitan city, and alumni feedback attracted me to opt for this course.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you like learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies? All of the courses were very well structured and I liked all of my modules and tutors. My favourite modules were Introduction to Oral biology and Minimally Invasive Dentistry. When I started my research project I found the research facilities and quality of supervision outstanding - I had never come across such standards before. The research projects that were carried out comprises of highly relevant and emerging topics – it was a joy to be exposed to such projects.
Why did you choose to study at Barts and the London in particular? I choose Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry because of the central location of the University. Additionally, the fact that researchers at Barts are known for their research and innovation influenced by decision. Overall, the facilities, student support and London’s diverse cultural environment make the international student adjustment easy – these factors were the main reason behind my choice.
What was it like living and studying in London considering you now work and live in Pakistan? I belong to Karachi, Pakistan. London and Karachi are both metropolitan cities that are home to different ethnicities, religions and races. However, studying in London and managing everything on my own made me a more responsible and mature individual. My time and study at Barts improved me not only from a scholarly point of view, but also helped me to utilise my experiences for the betterment of my students both here in Pakistan and abroad.
Can you describe your career path up to date and touch on your current role? After graduation I got my first job as a senior lecturer in a Dental School in Pakistan. During this time I had multiple opportunities to work with prominent universities in the Middle East, but I preferred to work in my home country. I am currently working as an Assistant Professor at one of the leading State owned Medical University of Pakistan. I am also managing an e-learning initiative called ‘Dental Education Hub’. In the nearby future, I look forward to playing an active role in developing quality online learning material for students without any extra cost to them.
How has your work been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how have you had to adapt? I have always had a dream to create an authentic online learning resource for Dental students and the faculty. Keeping this dream in my mind I have now started an e-learning initiative with the name Dental Education Hub. The Dental Education Hub has a YouTube Channel and an Educational Blogging Website. I am expanding this project for students and health professionals.
Due to lockdown students’ learning is affected around the world and this is the case in my country. Right now, I am helping students through my e-learning initiative by uploading course material online and responding to students' queries. I am fully focused on this initiative and I plan to expand and continue this even after the pandemic is over.
How did your time and study at Barts and the London help your career and development? My time and study helped me to build friendships and collaborations with prominent academics and researchers. My experience has opened up new areas of research and teaching practices to me that I might not otherwise have been aware of and I am grateful for this.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? Be ambitious in life and remember that the skill of learning takes place not only within the classroom, but also outside the classroom between different people and different cultures. The learning, exposure and experience you gain at Queen Mary and Barts will stay with you your whole life. Rather than waiting until you finish your studies, start planning and looking for future opportunities well before your graduate. Also try to get involved in volunteering activities. Volunteering will allow you to develop lots of new skills and Queen Mary offers a lot of on-campus volunteering activities which makes volunteering convenient for students.
Why is it exciting to do what you do? I always enjoy working with academics and researchers. I find teaching and research fascinating and one of my current aims is to make online or blended learning enjoyable and free for students. My job has provided me with the opportunity to work with prominent researchers and I have had my writing published in some prominent Dentistry journals such as ‘Journal of Endodontics’ and ‘Journal of Dental Education’. My job also provides me with the opportunity to learn every day, to interact with young energetic people and to build long-lasting partnerships with people working in areas similar to my interests.
What was so special about your time at Barts and the London? There were so many opportunities to interact with students from other faculties as I was also an active participant in societies such as Queen Mary Islamic society and community events. During my study and life at Barts I had the chance to meet some amazing people and I am still in touch with fellow alumni and friends through social media and professional networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.