Queen Mary's scholars from Mexico
Meet our CONACyT scholars, discover the opportunities their funding has provided, and read their advice on the application process and getting the most out of your studies.
Jorge Luis Fuentes Venegas, PhD in Cosmology
Jorge chose Queen Mary for his PhD in Cosmology in the Astronomy Unit because of its internationally recognised experts in Cosmological Perturbation Theory and plans to pursue a career in academia with his PhD funded by CONACyT.
Jorge has a Bachelor in Mathematical Physics and a Master in Physical Sciences from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Michoacán.
His advice to applicants: “Be patient, have all the paperwork ready, read the application carefully, even the small print, because you need to provide everything they are asking for. It is a long, tedious process but definitely worth it.”
Tania Robledo Retana, PhD Biological Sciences
Tania is using her CONACyT funding to investigate the protein structure of an allergen produced by privet hedge pollen that is a respiratory allergen in Mexico City. She hopes to help develop a new medication.
Tania’s previous degrees in Biology and research work focused on allergens in the Mexican capital’s Chapultepec Forest. She has teaching experience as a lecturer on Cellular Biology at the Universidad Anahuac del Norte.
A PhD from the UK will help Tania develop her academic career in Mexico as most permanent positions at national institutes require international experience. She also benefits from academic development training courses, offered free of charge to all Queen Mary PhD students.
Tania’s advice to applicants: “Try to save some money before you come to the UK. Also, apply for student discounts on transportation. There are always perks for being a student so take advantage of them!”
Ana Cecilia Hijar Islas, MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Before her MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ana was a professor of biology at the introductory program of Health Sciences at Universidad Anahuac Mexico in Mexico City. She has studied at Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) and is now specialising at Master level thanks to a CONACyT scholarship.
Ana aims to do a PhD and is first taking the MSc to gain experience in scientific research and fieldwork, and to meet potential supervisors. She chose the MSc Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for its tropical ecology field trip to Borneo, Malaysia, and the opportunity to study multiple organisms.
She says: “The course is amazing. I gain experience in scientific writing and statistical analysis for ecological research. The lecturers come from all over the world to talk about their research, and the subjects available for dissertation projects are fascinating. Professors are very friendly and accessible.”
Ana says the programme has built her confidence to apply for a PhD in a subject of great value to Mexico: “Mexico needs more scientists who are specialised in the areas of ecology and evolutionary biology to understand how ecosystems work and to protect our natural resources.”
She advises applicants: “Know what you want to achieve by studying your chosen programme, and justify it in your written statement of purpose. Be congruent with what you have done in the past and what you want to achieve in the future.”
Esteban Ortega-Hernandez, PhD Medical Engineering
Esteban is using his CONACyT scholarship to develop new cardiovascular therapies with biomaterials and exosomes derived from stem cells through his PhD in Medical Engineering. He studied at UNAM (Physician Surgeon, M.D.) and Queen Mary (MSc Regenerative Medicine) before starting his PhD in 2018. He worked at National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition “Salvador Zubiran” (INCMNSZ) Transplants Department in Mexico and studied Immunogenetics.
Choose your course carefully. Think how it can benefit Mexico as well as yourself, and work hard to achieve your dreams.— Perla Roman Torres, PhD Biological Sciences
Esteban chose his PhD at Queen Mary to have a multicultural friendly environment to gain international experience in medical research and Regenerative Medicine. His PhD includes two supervisors from the William Harvey Research Institute and School of Engineering and Materials Sciences.
Esteban’s advice to applicants: keep an eye on the timings and deadlines. The process can take up to six months so be organised and persevere. Remember to stress how your work will benefit Mexico. Esteban’s work builds on work he did on 3D printing years ago. He adds: “My work aims to accelerate the scientific development around stem cells and bio-fabrication in Mexico.”
Rebeca Martinez Carrillo, PhD Astronomy
Rebeca is researching the initial conditions for cosmological simulations (N-body codes) in the School of Physics and Astronomy under the supervision of Dr Karim Malik. She studied Physics at Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas and Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico, and aspires to finding a permanent research position in her home country.
Rebeca entered the scientific poster competition in her department at Queen Mary and assists with teaching and demonstrating in undergraduate classes. Learning to use English to explain complex theories will broaden her career prospects.
Rebeca recommends that potential applicants for a PhD in Astronomy or a CONACyT scholarship talk to those currently studying to get tips. She strongly advises reading all the application requirements very carefully and to contact your preferred supervisor before applying. She met Dr Malik at a Cosmology summer school in Mexico and received useful advice about funding, the application process and course content.
Perla Roman Torres, PhD Biological Sciences
Supervised by Dr Christophe Eizaguirre, Perla is studying the effect of global change on the movement, dynamics and evolution of sea turtles. Perla has a Biology degree and research experience at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) where she interned in the Restoration Ecology Laboratory.
She met her supervisor and started to design her PhD project while studying Queen Mary’s MSc Freshwater and Marine Ecology programme, which she chose because it integrated practice and theory. She says: “The Master course was challenging. I learnt more than I was expecting and that's why I decided to continue with the PhD.”
Perla knows the PhD project and researcher training available at Queen Mary will help her future career and Mexico. She says: “I´m being formed as a research ecologist, developing diverse abilities like math modelling, experiments designing, critical thinking and communication skills to develop and manage successful projects.”
“Mexico needs the scientific knowledge to take decisions on conservation and resources management, so it needs scientists capable of generating analysis, predictive models and management programmes beneficial for nature and the progress of the country.”
Perla advises applicants: “Choose your course carefully. Think how it can benefit Mexico as well as yourself, and work hard to achieve your dreams.”
Eduardo Diego Fernandez Forseck, LLM Energy and Natural Resources Law
Eduardo is studying with a SENER funded scholarship. Before coming to Queen Mary, he studied Law at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and worked in a Mergers and Acquisitions practice in Mexico City for White & Case, LLP, an international law firm.
Eduardo chose this LLM for its focus on energy law, which is relevant as Mexico enacts reforms of its Energy sector. He says: “All lecturers are highly specialised in their areas of study/practice, and the course lets you select from tens of well-designed modules to suit your area of specialization.
“The scholarship helps pay for tuition fees and living expenses so you can focus on studying. Mexico needs experts in Energy law during new bidding processes for exploration and production of oil and gas.”