Centre PhD Student Profile - Mary Brian

Stage of study?

I am a final year PhD student

What were you doing before joining the Centre?

Before coming to Imperial I was finishing my MSc in Toxicology at the University of Surrey in Guildford. I graduated from this in 2015 and started my PhD in October of the same year.

Why did you choose the Centre?

I chose to do my PhD at Imperial College London for a number of reasons. The college has an international reputation for academic excellence, so I knew I’d be working alongside talented scientists and learning from a wealth of research experience. I also wanted to be part of a research culture that values the use of innovative ideas to tackle global challenges. In addition, I was attracted to being in the hub of London and the diversity, culture and modern influences that come with living in such a large metropolitan city.

What do you enjoy most about your day to day work and the people you work with? 

My PhD project has been predominantly lab-based, so conducting experiments, learning new ones and repeating a lot of them is what I really enjoy about my day to day work. It is great to have the camaraderie that exists within my laboratory, the importance of which cannot be underestimated for having a healthy work environment.

What do you most value about the MRC Centre Studentship?

The MRC Centre studentship has provided me with the means of interacting with a wide group of scientists from a broad range of disciplines (e.g. epidemiologists, clinicians, statisticians etc.). This interaction gives you as a researcher a wider picture of the different approaches being used that enable us to understand more about the environment and health.

What do you most appreciate about the Lab/Faculty/College?

Within my lab and department, I most appreciate the level of support and supervision that I have been given. This support has been instrumental in driving my PhD by: focusing my research aims, provision of regular feedback, encouragement to attend international conferences and a 3-month placement abroad and my personal development as an academic.  

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I have no definite plans of what I’ll do after I graduate, likely I will pursue a post-doc or go into another medical research sector.

Do you have any tips for future MRC Centre Studentship applicants?

Express why you want to do the research you’re applying for. The MRC Centre has a highly collaborative atmosphere, so learning how to communicate your own research and understand the research of others are both valuable assets and expectations of you as an MRC Centre student.

What opportunities have you benefitted from outside your PhD?

Outside my PhD I have established professional networks from Imperial College London, across Kings College London, in addition to MIT and the University of Salzburg in Austria. At an earlier stage of my PhD I was also a committee member of the researcher’s society and enjoyed going to socials at bounce (a ping-pong bar) as well as other trendy London spots. I also partook in the 2016 MRC festival, which meant I spoke to members of the public about the research going on in the centre in a fun interactive format.