What does it take for a naive girl to step out of her country for the first time? An admission letter from a world top-100 university, a uniquely designed Masters programme and a childhood fascination with X-Men. Yes, that’s me! The journey to Sheffield was the first time I’d ever traveled alone. This was a big step for me and where I come from.
Ever since I watched the X-men cartoons and first heard the word ‘genetics’ (I was about 10 years old), I knew I loved the subject. Even two semesters of genetics during my undergraduate degree (in Biotechnology) did not diminish my love and fascination - in spite of understanding that it’s not as glamorous and exciting in the real world as it is in the Marvel world. It challenged me intellectually, intrigued me and made me curious about the world around me. Except for the love of my parents, family and Indian food, the decision to come to the University of Sheffield was not that hard. The university had been consistently ranked within the worldwide top 100. The MSc program in Human and Molecular Genetics seemed to be quite unique and a perfect springboard for a career in this field. The department is also home to a Nobel Prize winner whose work I had come across so many times since my school (Sir Hans Adolf Kreb, if you’re wondering). And the city is pretty awesome too!
I’m glad that I took that big step in coming here for postgrad study. I’ve had the opportunity to work with brilliant scientists and people who’ve supported me in every aspect of my life. One lecturer and mentor in particular (who will remain nameless) encouraged me to explore beyond the curriculum, and I discovered that a PhD in evolutionary genetics was what I really wanted to do.
The process of finding a supervisor whose research interests aligned with mine’s, putting together a research project and securing funding was long and exhausting. But I was ultimately rewarded with a PhD opportunity with the support of a Vice-Chancellor’s scholarship. Long story short, I stepped out of my comfort zone in the pursuit of my dreams. And the experience so far had been gratifying, overwhelming and fulfilling.
Pragya Chaube, PhD student (Animal and Plant Sciences)