Meet student Aneka Sowman
I'm a full-time second year DPhil student in the Edwards group in NDORMS and my research focusses on ageing mechanisms within bone. I first came to Oxford for my undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences, a course which contains a compulsory eight-week research project in the second year. I chose to carry out my project with a group within NDORMS, attracted by the varied and interesting research, and my experience was so positive that I chose to remain in Oxford to undertake a DPhil here.
Coming straight from an undergraduate background, I had very limited experience of practical lab work, and managing my own time and the direction of my project has been a steep learning curve, but frequent contact with supportive supervisors, training from my whole lab group, and support from the wider student body has helped ease the transition. No two days are ever the same, so there is no time to get bored: some days focus on practical lab work, while others concentrate on reading of the literature and planning and understanding the project.
The most important advice I can give to students considering a PhD is to choose an environment in which you feel you will be supported and guided. A doctorate is an individual's project, and this can feel lonely and isolated at times, so choose a department and a lab group in which supportive words, laughs and perhaps the odd slice of cake are provided freely and often. For me, my lab and NDORMS have fitted that description - I've found it to be a positive and friendly place to work and study, with people from a wide variety of backgrounds supporting each other.