Dr Jamie Males

Jamie graduated back in 2013, and has since persued a career working in science journalism. Whilst now based in London with PLOS ONE, he still misses the deer of Magdalen.

Why did you choose biology at Oxford?

The course really appealed to me for three reasons: 1) it included a diverse range of content; 2) the standard of teaching was exceptional and there was the chance to interact with world-leading researchers; and 3) all of this took place in the beautiful, stimulating setting of Oxford. What more could you ask for?

What did you enjoy most about your degree?

I was a huge fan of the tutorial system- having the chance to discuss concepts and experiments in a small group was so useful, especially when conversation went ‘off-piste’ and you could expand your horizons far beyond lecture material! I also really appreciated all the opportunities for ‘hands-on’ experience, whether that be in the form of field trips, project work, or practical classes.

What was your final project on?

My project was on the weird and wonderful physiology of the bromeliad plant family. I used a range of techniques to try to work out whether any of the early-diverging relatives of the pineapple were able to use a special form of photosynthesis called CAM. I got hooked on bromeliads (not just on their spiny leaves…) during my project, and ended up working on them for my PhD too!

What skill sets did you gain during your degree that have equipped you for where you are today?

The course equipped me with a range of skills that are truly indispensable for my day-to-day work now: a critical eye for research design, a solid grounding in statistics for the biosciences, and of course expertise in core subject matter of the manuscripts I handle as an editor.

What did you do after Oxford?

Straight after graduating I started a PhD at Cambridge, working on an amazing research project which combined lab work and fieldwork in the forests of the southern Caribbean. It was a great experience, and I got to know so many incredible people and places, from Kew Gardens to the Panamanian jungle!

What do you currently do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Since completing my PhD, I have been working as an editor for a scientific journal. It’s an extremely varied role, which I really enjoy. Besides handling submissions of new manuscripts to the journal and monitoring the peer review process, I also help craft new editorial policies and consult with research communities on reporting standards. I especially like taking the chance to represent the journal at international scientific conferences; in the past few months alone I’ve attended meetings in Ghent, Copenhagen, Vienna, Tuscany, and New Orleans!

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply for biology at Oxford?

The first thing I would tell anyone thinking of applying for the course is this: the world needs you! We are living in a time of enormous societal and environmental challenges, and biologists are in a unique position to help identify and implement solutions. Beyond that, my number one tip for aspiring biologists is to take every opportunity to get out into nature and observe its wonders and curiosities first-hand- it’s the very best source of inspiration!

Get in touch with Jamie: @ep1phyte