Case study

Research scientist — Kimberley Bryon-Dodd

After studying for a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, Kimberley is now on a PhD programme at University College London

During my A-levels, I realised that I wanted to do biochemistry at university. I went on to study Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, during which time my tutor suggested doing a vacation project to gain some experience. I undertook different projects each summer. In my final year, I chose to work on nematode worms, which I enjoyed a lot and prompted my decision to do a PhD. I applied for the four-year PhD program at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology. It is a rotational PhD programme, which means I worked on three 12-week projects in different areas and then picked the one I thought I was best suited to.

Doing a PhD opens so many exciting avenues that it can be difficult to figure out what you want to do afterwards

My work currently consists of a lot of microscopy and chemical analysis. Once a year I present what I have been doing to the whole department and also to other scientists in my field at a London 'worm meeting'. I attend an international conference once a year and perhaps two internal conferences at the university. We also have student retreats each year where the PhD students go and meet up with students from abroad - this year in Tuscany, Italy. I write for a science news digest company and take part in public engagement activities to promote an interest in science.

Last year I went to Los Angeles for a week for work, and this year I am going to Heidelberg in Germany for a long weekend. During my PhD, I was lucky enough to get selected to work in a lab in San Francisco for six weeks as part of an exchange run by my programme. Afterwards I spent two weeks travelling around California, including Yosemite National Park, which is breathtakingly beautiful.

Doing a PhD opens so many exciting avenues that it can be difficult to figure out what you want to do afterwards. After completing their PhD, many people decide to stay in academic research. Some people move to research in industry or go and study graduate entry medicine. Other people leave research but stay within science either as a science communicator; working for research councils in policy or grant management; or do medical writing. I am still in the process of deciding.

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