MRC-DTP Doctoral Researcher
Place of work / study:
King’s College London
Area of Research:
Neuron-glia signalling and neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disease.
How is your work funded?
Funded student on the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training Programme (MRC-DTP).
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Jodi, and I am the first in my family to go to university. After training and working as a Nursing Assistant, I went to the University of Sussex, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Neuroscience and I was awarded an Academic Excellence scholarship. I used this to study my Master of Research (MRes) in Neuroscience – completing two lab-based projects and graduating at the top of my class, secured me the School Prize for the best performance in neuroscience. Soon after my masters, I started working as a Grant and Proposal Writer in a wearable technology company, before being promoted to Research & Partnerships Lead. In this role, I designed and managed collaborative Industry-Academia projects with multidisciplinary consortia to produce novel R&D, IoT and wearable devices for health. Although I learnt a lot from this job; networking, grant writing and project management, I felt it was time to take these skills back with me to the lab. I had always been interested in dementia research, from my experiences nursing dementia patients, and I found a lab at King’s College London whose research interested me. I reached out to the PI expressing an interest in studying a PhD with them. I was offered a position as a Research Technician to find my feet in the lab and I jumped at the opportunity to work in the neurodegeneration field. I lead an MNDA-funded project on ALS/FTD in the Drosophila fruit fly for over a year, during this time I also applied for funding for the lab to keep me as a PhD student. After applying for funding and many competitive PhD programmes, I was awarded a place on the MRC-DTP programme which allowed me to start a new PhD project in the same lab.
I am now working across three lab projects, heading toward the end of my first year of my PhD, and juggling this with wedding planning, home renovations, tutoring, science communication, and podcasting, but I absolutely love what I do and never thought I’d actually be here!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself:
I once hitch-hiked from Stonehenge to the University of Sussex (Falmer, East Sussex) for charity dressed as a giant pink rabbit.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
Dementia is the biggest health crisis today. My experiences with dementia, seeing loved ones and patients I cared for living with the condition, and the effects this had on family, made me want to do something to help. Dementia research is an interesting and rewarding field to work in.
What single piece of advice would you give to an early career researcher?
Don’t give up, there’s no wrong path into STEM. I originally applied to medical school, due to a lack of career visibility available to me, and I have been rejected from many medical schools and PhD projects. These programmes can be competitive, and funding is scarce, but ‘failure’ is not a reflection on you or your abilities. My advice is to look at each knock-back as a chance to learn something. If you work hard enough, you will get to where you are supposed to be – and be open to what that might look like for you.
Can we find you on Twitter & Instagram?
Want to share your playlist?
You may also be interested to listen to Jodi’s awesome podcast…