School of Biomedical Sciences

Owen Burbidge

Owen Burbidge

BSc Biochemsitry – Graduated July 2012 with a First Class Honours Degree

Current position: Research Assistant at Oxford Protein Production Facility UK but starting my PhD in October 2014 at Cambridge UK.

For me the highlight of studying Life Sciences at Newcastle was the flexibility the department offered within the degree programme.

I applied to the University to undertake a degree in Biomedical Sciences with the hope that I could transfer to Medicine after completing the first year of study. I soon realised that Medicine was not my calling in life but realised I wanted to specialise and do a more focussed degree.

After completing my first year I decided to transfer and complete a degree in Biochemistry.

Midway through my second year I decided that I would like to take a placement year to help me decide whether I enjoyed laboratory based work. Although a placement year was not part of my degree the department was supportive of my decision and granted me the option to pause my studies for a year while I worked in Industry. I therefore spent the third year of my degree working for the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Ultimately, the combination of being allowed to specialise and take a placement year gave me a renewed focus for my final year of studies and enabled me to excel and obtain a degree classification to be proud of.

After graduating, I spent a year working within Government Laboratories. I applied for this position directly from University. Subsequently, a year later I opted to move back into a more academic position, building upon the skills I had learned during my degree and whilst undertaking my final dissertation project.

I applied for the position of Research Assistant at the Oxford Protein Production Facility - an organisation linked to Oxford University and based at the UK Synchrotron Diamond Light Source. During my time working at OPPF I decided to return to University and complete my PhD. I will be starting my PhD at Cambridge in the Autumm of 2014.

Newcastle University has a rich and diverse portfolio of schemes and experiences on offer to help students gain employment or further their education after they graduate. I found the Careers Service was instrumental in helping me gain both my placement year and subsequent employment after my degree and were always on hand to give advice on CV writing and Interview Skills.

I was also part of an Employability Ambassadors scheme run within the Faculty, this was a pilot project where a group of students who had experience in a range of different areas linked to employment were on hand to give advice to fellow students about applying for jobs and gaining experience. My speciality was based on promoting relevant laboratory experience and placement years.

My current role involves a lot of skills and techniques that were learned during my degree programme both within the laboratory and outside of this. I have applied skills gained during practicals in both my post-graduation employment roles. Both of which involved the expression, purification and analysis of proteins from a range of different organisms.

My degree at Newcastle gave me skills outside of the laboratory such as report writing and the presentation of results to large groups of people. I have found these both particularly useful working in industry and academia and has given me the confidence to present scientific data at International Conferences both within the UK and abroad.

I will finish by saying that Newcastle University has a rich heritage, a wealth of support networks and a team of Professors and Lecturers who are passionate about their subject, care for and want the very best from their students.

I thoroughly enjoyed the three years I spent at the University, living within such a vibrant and exciting City. If you choose to come to the North East and study here, you will have an absolute blast and not be disappointed.