What are you working on?

by Gemma Woodhouse

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Anzelika. I was born in Lithuania, where I have spent most of my life. I came to Britain to pursue my BSc in Molecular Biology, and 4 years later I’m still here!  I’m currently at the end of my MRes course within the Department of Biosciences.

What is your research about?

I’m working with the larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella, which I use as a model to study the invertebrate immune response to infectious stimuli. More specifically, I’m interested in understanding the changes in cellular behaviour and protein expression in response to a viral infection occurring in insects.

How long have you been at Swansea University for?

Just under a year, since October 2016.

What have been the highlights of your Masters?

My Masters project was great. Since it was a collaboration with the Medical School of Swansea University, I had an opportunity to work with some great equipment, such as conventional and imaging flow cytometers and the Xf96 analyser. I learned how to handle insects and keep cell cultures happy, which isn’t easy!

What have been the challenges?

Some things we cannot control and that can put on a lot of pressure during the project. Sometimes fresh insects wouldn’t arrive on time, the equipment wouldn’t pass quality controls, which required waiting for it to be repaired, etc. Also, it was difficult to effectively manage time in the lab, especially when I had multiple experiments to run in one day. But the more I did it, the better I became.

If you could go back and do it all again, what would you do differently and what would you keep doing the same?

I wouldn’t change anything in terms of my project. Although it was difficult at times, it helped me to build character and prepared me well for my future in science. The only thing I would change if I could go back, is consider applying for multiple charities and bursaries prior my MRes to secure some funds that would cover my living costs. I didn’t mind working part-time while studying towards my MRes, but it would be nice not to worry about money during such an important time. I encourage everybody to apply to as many sponsors as possible to make your time at the university a little bit easier.

What encouraged you to pursue your chosen subject?

I was always interested in immunity and infection. My undergraduate project was also immunology-based; however, the data I collected then was from in vitro stimulation of a cell line. But during this MRes I had an opportunity to work with a model organism and perform all my experiments in vivo, which I find very interesting.

What advice would you give to new postgraduate students?

Try to do as much planning as you can before you dive into your project, it is a crucial step in research. Although statistical analysis of your results is miles away, it’s always a good idea to know what you need to be collecting in order to avoid any trouble at the end of it all.

Any advice for new undergraduate students?

Make the most of your time at the university and enjoy yourselves. Stay motivated, patient and remember that there are always people you can talk to if you are unsure about things or need some advice. Don’t be afraid to ask.


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