Fourth year MSci Pharmaceutical Chemistry student, Jyoti Singh reflects on her time studying at Queen Mary
The journey from a 10-year-old girl who had just moved to the UK, to an 18-year-old girl who had finally gotten admission into QM was rewarding, yet tough. Being the first member of the family to go to university was an extremely proud moment for my loved ones and I. This sense of pride came with a lot of expectations that were imposed upon me. I have felt privileged to be studying at a Russell Group institution with excellent research facilities.
The Central line has been my worst enemy yet my best friend over the last three years. This is because I live in West London and had a 90-minute commute to QM. Although the commute became extremely tiring on some days, it gave me a lot of independence. Believe it or not, I managed to secure a seat on the train on most good days (so obviously not 9am starts), which allowed me to catch up on some reading or some lost sleep. Yes, by the end of the first year, I stopped caring about what people would think when they saw me sleeping on the train.
One of the things I wish I did differently was participating in the societies’ events. Queen Mary is a very culturally diverse community that proudly offers a wide range of societies and events. I have come to the realisation that commuting meant that I couldn’t participate in many of them as they are scheduled to take place later in the afternoon or evening. However, one of the most uplifting occasions I attended was the students vs staff football match. Witnessing the cordial relationship, us students shared with our lecturers was definitely a gratifying moment. It was impressive to see how humble they were and the respect they had for us.
The Pharmaceutical Chemistry course at QM caters to the academic needs of students with different abilities and backgrounds. The modules in the first year were crucial to ensure that any gaps in the knowledge between sixth form and university were bridged. Basic chemistry knowledge was consolidated so that all students felt comfortable learning the more challenging content. Chemistry is a field that requires mathematical operations very frequently. Maths was not my strongest area and I had not studied it at A Levels; I was glad that QM offered an Essential skills module, which ensured that all students acquire the necessary numerical skills and have an appreciation of the theory behind the various mathematical functions and equations.
In the second and third year of my degree, I thoroughly enjoyed the Pharmaceutical chemistry module. It was interesting to learn how drugs are discovered and designed for specific targets and diseases; keeping in mind ADME. Cancer and the existing cancer therapies was definitely an enthralling area to explore, as it is a modern-day disease with no sole successful treatment.
The CHE600 research project in the third year was the highlight of my degree so far. The project gave me a chance to apply all the skills I had learned in the compulsory practical chemistry modules over the three years. This left me with a feeling of fulfilment as a student. Working in the research lab enabled me to work alongside some PhD students. Their guidance was invaluable as they taught me how to carry out tasks with professionalism and perfection. Moreover, I was able to work with more specialised equipment and machinery. One of the most important skills I mastered during the project was processing and presenting the data I collected for my final 7,500 words dissertation. The research project enabled me to further ameliorate my time management skills as I was required to be in the laboratory for two full working days. I had to manage my free time out of lectures and workshops independently. I can confirm that the project was a very fruitful experience as I received constructive feedback from my supervisor and the PhD students regarding my dissertation and practical work throughout.
In the second year of my degree I became the student representative for my course. Attending semester based SSLC (Staff-student liaison committee) meetings enabled me to voice the concerns and opinions of my peers. I undertook the same role in the third year as I really enjoyed it in the second year. The experience of being a course representative was very fulfilling as my confidence grew significantly. The positive feedback and appreciation received from my peers indicated to me that the manner in which I handled my role was plausible. This gave me a sense of satisfaction and further encouraged me to do better. I can confirm that the voices of the students at QM are heard. The Students Union and individual departments strive to resolve any issues brought up in the meeting, taking on board any potential solutions suggested by the student body.
I am excited to start the fourth and last year of my degree. I believe that the structure and composition of the fourth year of the MSci makes the overall degree more specialised and research focused. This is because a big bulk (75%) of it consists of an extended research project. Having completed a research project worth 30 credits in the third year has equipped me with the foundation and recipe for a successful dissertation, which will mark the end of my research project. I am looking forward to working as part of an academic’s research group and acquiring more practical skills in the lab, which will better prepare me for employment in the chemical industry.
When I reminisce the past three years at QM, I definitely feel that I have grown as a person and as a chemist. My experiences have shaped me into a more confident, independent and skilled individual.