We are excited to welcome Suzanne back to Oxford - having studied here at undergraduate level, she is now returning as a post-doc researcher.
Why did you choose biology at Oxford?
I chose to do biology at Oxford because there was a strong evolutionary component to the course. I also felt that the tutorial system would work well for me and get the best out of me.
What did you enjoy most about your degree?
I really enjoyed the diversity of subjects. I ended up really liking subjects that I didn’t think I would like and probably wouldn’t have taken otherwise. This has definitely shaped where I am today.
What was your final project on?
I used a bioinformatics approach to investigate the distribution of genes that code for virulence and antibiotic resistance across lineages of the human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus. This taught me a lot of skills and I enjoyed the opportunity to have my own project. From this I learnt that I wanted to continue in research.
What skill sets did you gain during your degree that have equipped you for where you are today?
I learnt lots of transferable skills, including how to analyse data, think critically about published work and to write. I also learnt more specific skills, such as laboratory techniques, statistics and bioinformatics.
What did you do after Oxford?
I carried out a postdoctoral research position at Monash University, Melbourne in Australia which then moved to Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania in the USA. During this time, I investigated how a bacterium called Wolbachia could be used to prevent the transmission of mosquito-borne viruses to humans, such as dengue and Zika.
What do you currently do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am now carrying out a postdoctoral research position at Oxford University with Professor Kayla King. As part of this job, I am investigating how protective microbes could shape the evolution of host organisms in response to infection by pathogens. What I enjoy most about research is the opportunity to test new hypotheses and constantly learn more about topics that I find really interesting.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply for biology at Oxford?
The biology degree at Oxford is a fantastic opportunity to learn a diversity of topics from experts, but more importantly, enable you to think critically and creatively about problems and solutions to those problems. As a result, it is a degree that will give you a wide array of transferable and valuable skills for many different career paths. I believe that the tutorial system plays a critical role in this development and I look back on it very fondly.
Get in touch wth Suanne: @SuzanneAFord