Lewis had recently completed his undergraduate degree in Genetics and has been awarded a full scholarship and stipend on behalf of HDRUK to study MSc Precision Medicine: Genomics and Analytics at the University of Leeds. We spoke to him about his time at Queen Mary and the healthcare community project and internship he took part in.
I chose to study this course as it combines my specified passion for genetic research whilst still providing me with a general background in all biological science. Queen Mary is also the only campus-based university in London, boasting a safe and vibrant atmosphere whilst still being in the capital, and allows students to build friendships on campus. The esteemed facilities, including world-class experts and cutting-edge laboratory technologies, have provided incredible and enriching opportunities for me and my colleagues as we graduate into the world of science.
The highlight of my course was probably my colleagues and teaching staff. My academic advisor was with me every step of the way throughout my degree and I love learning about their specialties during 1-1 tutorials or lectures. I met a great number of friends on my course whom shared the same interests and passions as me. The tutorials were invaluable for first year and made me feel a lot more secure about integrating into a new university and a new city.
The teaching at Queen Mary can be very interactive, allowing every question or query to be answered. The lectures cover a wide range of content with real-life applications which I have really enjoyed. The content covered is extremely valuable for a post-degree career and the vast options to pick allows every student to fulfil their academic interests. From Climate change to neuroscience to dinosaurs, SBCS at QMUL is really exceptional.
The GP on campus is great because it is so local and allows students to fit in an appointment when we have free time away from lectures.
During the Dinosaurs to DNA module we ventured out to Alberta, Canada to excavate and research dinosaurs. The sweeping landscapes were riddled with fossils or all kinds such as skulls and teeth. It was great to visualize biology in this way, as this can be something that is often not possible in science. We also were allowed behind-the-scenes entry to world famous museums where we experienced the preparation and storage of exhibits. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I urge every student to pursue this module.
At the beginning of my second year of study, I joined Social Action for Health, a community-based project in East London, aiming to empower people and communities to live healthier lives. My outreach work into the South-Asian community across East London involved collecting saliva samples and increasing awareness of healthcare services. This is due to the fact that South-Asian communities in East London suffer from disproportionately increased rates of diabetes, Cardiovascular disease and heart disease. I met with community leaders, presented at AGM’s and became integrated into the community and culture. Skills such as engagement, communication, presentation and my knowledge of NHS inequality has greatly advanced due to the experiences from this project. I am fuelled by the apparent disenfranchisement of health services within the South-Asian communities, supported by the fact that East-London residing citizens live 10 years less than their West London counterparts. Social Action for Health is always looking for volunteers to assist in the life-changing work in East-London (safh.org.uk). London is a great city for a student to study in, with plenty of networking links and opportunities.
During the summer of 2019, I assisted in the sequencing, sampling and logging of genetic samples in the Blizard institute in Whitechapel. The project, East London Genes & Health, works in tandem with Social Action for Health and I got involved by reaching out through my Queen Mary contacts and colleagues at Social Action for Health. This placement helped me to advance valuable skills such as clinical, technological and laboratory techniques, allowing me to delve deeper into the industry of health data science, something I have an increasing passion for.
I have recently been accepted into the University of Leeds to study MSc Precision Medicine: Genomics and Analytics. I have also been awarded a full scholarship and stipend on behalf of HDRUK due to my academic merit throughout my undergraduate degree and I was fully supported by QMUL through this application process. The modules offered through my undergraduate degree prepared me to develop important skills that are necessary in the modern world of science such as statistics and coding (Research methods module). Especially with BSc Genetics, the teaching staff teach all different angles of this (population, clinical, theoretical) and I therefore feel satisfied with my degree content. This wider image of genetics allowed me to excel in my MSc applications and interview.
I worked part-time as a retail supervisor in Westfield, Stratford. At times, it was difficult to balance university studies with my community work and retail position, but time management is a valuable skill that I advanced during this time
Campus is a great place to be all year round because there is something always going on. There is always somewhere to go to grab a bite to eat on campus and the student union has weekly events, creating a sociable atmosphere on campus. There are vast study spaces all for different needs, such as the Hive, the Library and the Nest, and there is always space for a quick catchup with friends after a lecture.
During my first year, I stayed in Beaumont Court with 5 other flatmates. The storage space was great and allowed me to make the room into my own. I also had an ensuite which provided privacy, but the shared kitchen was always great to host events or chat with flatmates. The non-expensive pricing with bills included made my first year a lot easier in the financial aspect also.
Queen Mary University of London has sincerely been the best three years of my life. Academic staff such as Andrew Leitch and Brendan Curran have changed the way I view science and also how I view life by shedding their years of knowledge with my fellow undergraduates. Overall, this university experience has been an incredible rollercoaster; I have made lifelong friendships, learnt an invaluable amount and lived the London lifestyle to the fullest.