Margeurite kennedy

Margeurite Kennedy

I choose to come to the University of Leeds to complete my PhD as I studied my undergraduate in Biology and I also worked here over summer on two studentships, one of which was in a laboratory based setting where the research facilities really appealed to me. From then on I really wanted to study towards a PhD here. I think Leeds is a fantastic city to live in with a lot going on. The research facilities in the department were superior to a number of other institutions I looked at. 

I feel like I have learnt and achieved a lot in a short period of time and have developed a good rapport with my supervisor. I have also met lots of new people and made friends that share similar interests to me.

The highlights of the PhD so far have been:

  • Being trained to use state of the art equipment and techniques in my research project that I will also be able to apply to my future career.
  • Attending conferences and learning about the research that is being conducted by other research groups across the world.
  • Learning from colleagues with different specialisms and career experiences.

The greatest challenge I have experienced on my PhD is that it is a big step up from undergraduate. Independently managing my own project with the advice of my supervisor has been challenging at times but I have learnt a lot about prioritisation and organisation that will be helpful in any career.

My research project looks at the effects that maternal diabetes has on vascular development in the placenta and how this in turn influences fetal growth. More specifically, I am looking at how small lipid bilayer delimited particles called extracellular vesicles, which are produced by all cells, travel into the placenta from maternal circulation and affect gene expression. This involves the isolation of extracellular vesicles from maternal bloody plasma (photographed) and characterisation by nanoparticle tracking analysis. I am also interested in analysing the microRNA content of extracellular vesicles which enables them to elicit changes in gene expression.

I believe my PhD has improved my confidence in conducting and communicating my own research. It has also developed my critical thinking and time management. I feel these skills will not only be useful to me in academia but are also desirable in industry.

I have attended numerous courses run by the library for postgraduates that have developed my skills in presenting, word processing and outreach event planning. Collaborations between faculties have also given me access to state of the art equipment for my research. 

I have made lifelong friends through attending clubs and society events. Since starting my PhD I have also made some great friends in my lab group, there’s a really nice community feel here.

Access to a range of equipment using an easy to use booking systems that allow you to plan your experiments ahead of time have helped me get the most of out my PhD programme.

The key aspects of my experience of Leeds I would highlight to students thinking about coming to do a PhD here would be the proximity to the teaching hospitals making collecting clinical samples convenient. The campus has some great lunch venues for timeout with your colleagues.

I am not 100% sure what I would like to do in the future but I would like to remain working in laboratories. I feel that I have gained valuable technical skills already that I could apply to future careers in industry or academia.