School of Biomedical Sciences

Joe Sheppard

Joe Sheppard

BSc Biochemistry – Graduated July 2014 with a First Class Honours Degree

Current Position: MSc student in Molecular Neuroscience at Tübingen University

Despite having never visited the north-east of England prior to my university education, it was apparent from the various open days that both the university and city are both vibrant and friendly places to learn. This is reflected in the flexibility of the course structure that covers a huge breadth of modern biological fields prior to specialisation in the second year.

I myself applied for medical microbiology but realised my interest in biochemistry following the module in first year. This turned out to be an excellent decision.

The precise and complete understanding of cell biological processes offered by this course from biophysical, structural and chemical standpoints has enabled me to explore my own avenues of interest. Subsequently I've secured a master’s degree in neuroscience, a field previously inaccessible to me.

I think one of the best aspects of biochemistry at Newcastle is the faculty by which it is taught. Smaller class sizes and the familiarity gained with lecturers in the third year enables students to discuss leading edge research with the professors carrying it out.

This is invaluable in both honing and proving your understanding, but also in life after university. I am certain the academic references from professors I have come to know carried significant weight in my masters application.

In the summer between second and third year I had the opportunity to complete an eight week research project at the Mitochondrial Research Group, contributors to the 'three parent baby' study.

The project was extremely informative about what to expect from a career in research and helpful in preparing me for my third year dissertation project, allowing me to relax and enjoy my time working in the lab.

The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust giving me the opportunity to help fund my degree and get excellent work experience that prove instrumental in securing a good dissertation project and my masters degree, all of which Newcastle University encouraged me towards.

I co-founded and write for a student run science and communication blog called antisense science, with the aim of translating cutting edge biological research for the wider public with an interest in science.

The blog has been successful in reaching the over 20,000 people and encouraging younger students to participate in science communication, something I realised I had an interest in following the vocational modules in my final year.

In October I’m moving to Baden-Württemberg to carry out a two year masters degree at the graduate school for cellular and molecular neuroscience at Tübingen University.

The skills I’ve acquired doing my degree will allow me learn entirely new fields such as cognitive and electrophysiological neuroscience. I hope that during my studies I will be able to maintain and make use of the close ties that exist between the two universities.