We Are Essex

Kathryn's story

Photo of Kathryn Malpas

"It's weird, I cannot imagine going to university elsewhere."

I am an undergraduate final year genetics student, but I applied for a PhD and got accepted, which was a big accomplishment. They sent me an email, but I did not see the email confirming my place, so they emailed me again asking if I still wanted the PhD! It's one of those things that is exciting, but I also panicked as I had missed the email.

I was able to go straight into a PhD from undergraduate study because I did my placement at a company during my degree; therefore I already had the research experience. I also took part in the  Frontrunner scheme here at the university. I had a paper published, and also gained a lot of lab experience. I used this to get my placement year, which then led me to get my PhD. I have just skipped my masters.

My PhD is a specific medicine course at the University of Manchester which I will start next year. It’s a programme, not a specific project, so I get six months to decide the topic area I am interested in. There is a broad range of research areas, from trying to grow your own organs, to gene therapy, to using stem cells to try and change the gene. 

You can actually print an organ now which is really cool! Stem cells can differentiate into any type of cell in the body. They can take an adult cell and re-programme it back to the stage where it can differentiate into anything. We can use that technology to grow organs, it is in very early stages but hopefully at some point it will be able to grow into an organ, so you may not have to wait on a transplant list. There would also be less rejection, as they would take your own cells so you are basically growing your own organs. One day they might even have organ banks of everyone's organs. That is a very futuristic idea, but it is going in that direction and I may be involved in that.

Science and technology inspires me. People who have developed technology just using a pipette, or built machines is just amazing: we take all science research for granted because there are people who have come before us spent years developing technology that we use every day. Even stepping on gel to see different proteins - someone actually thought of that technique. That is just amazing.

My end goal is to lead my own research team, and have something I'm investigating. I don’t know what that is yet, but I'd like to be in charge.

Essex means a lot to me. I’ve lived here for three years. It's weird, I cannot imagine going to university elsewhere. You know everybody; a lot of my friends that went on a year abroad are back, so it’s the same community with a lot of people that were here before.

It has been a good place to go to university, but I’m definitely ready to move somewhere bigger. I am going to miss being here, but I am ready to move to Manchester. I will definitely come back and visit.


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