Dr Penny Sarchet

After completeing her undergraduate degree with us, Penny stayed to do her DPhil in the Department of Plant Sciences. She is now the News Editor at New Scientist magazine.

Why did you choose biology at Oxford?
It was the course structure that attracted me most – I was keen to study everything from cell biology to ecology, with a strong emphasis on evolution.

What did you enjoy most about your degree?
Having tutorials with such a wide range of experts from across the university was such a privilege, and the field trips to Pembrokeshire and the Algarve were extremely good fun.

What was your final project on?
The genetics of leaf-shape morphology.

What skill sets did you gain during your degree that have equipped you for where you are today?
Having only a week to get fully up-to-speed on a new topic and write an essay about it is great preliminary training for science journalism. As is meeting a lot of leading scientists and asking them questions about their work.

What did you do after Oxford?
I stayed. I was really interested in how genes evolve to shape new morphological adaptations (specifically: exploding fruit), so I did a DPhil at the Department of Plant Sciences. I also started working as a freelance journalist during my spare time, and I began my first full-time job as a reporter once I’d handed in my thesis.

What do you currently do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
As News Editor, I run New Scientist’s international news team. I love knowing everything that’s new in science and passing it on to our readers.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply for biology at Oxford?
Pick a college that takes in a relatively large number of biology students every year. Some colleges only take a few, but when I was at Wadham there was a large, friendly community of biologists and human scientists.

Get in touch with Penny: @PennySarchet