School of Biomedical Sciences

Robb Hollis

Robb Hollis

BSc Biomedical Sciences – Graduated July 2014 with a First Class Honours Degree

Current Position: PhD student at Edinburgh University

I think one of the best aspects of the Biomedical Sciences course at Newcastle is its breadth. The first two years in particular provide an excellent foundation of knowledge in a wide range of human disease and biology. The later stages of the program allow students to select areas of study in which they are particularly interested.

I applied for the course because I had a broad interest in biology, and so this structure suited me perfectly and allowed me to discover my own areas of strength and interest.

In the summer before my final year, I was able to secure a vacation studentship at the Children’s Brain Tumour Group in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR). This was a fantastic opportunity to get some practical lab experience, and really helped me decide that a career in research was for me.

The placement was jointly funded by the Newcastle Work Experience Scheme and the NICR itself, and so I received a bursary for the placement. This was incredibly beneficial, as I was already working part-time to help fund my degree, and would usually have to work over the summer.

The placement was also excellent preparation for my undergraduate research project and really helped me hit the ground running. I think it was because of this experience that I was fortunate enough to win the School’s Research Project Prize for my dissertation project.

The School of Biomedical Science was quick to highlight the importance of work experience and extracurricular activities when applying for jobs or further study after university. The School are keen to email out information about opportunities for placements and studentships, which was really helpful.

While studying, I’ve taken a leadership role in a student-led start-up project called Beauty by the Geeks. This company aims to encourage young people into science and other STEM careers through their online blog platform and educational outreach workshops. I am now their Science Communications and Outreach Coordinator.

Newcastle University has been very helpful in encouraging the project to grow, and continue to provide support and guidance for its future directions. The project itself has given me a lot of opportunities, including running workshops at major events like the British Science Festival, the Big Bang Fair, and the Edinburgh Science Festival, as well as giving a talk at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I’ve also been heavily involved in a research and science communications blogging site called Antisense Science, which is also a Newcastle student-led project.

Since beginning at Newcastle, I’ve been part of the Jobs On Campus Scheme (JobsOC), where students are employed to do a variety of jobs around campus. For me has included anything from admin work to cleaning and catering.

JobsOC has been a great way to support my studies and get some extra experience whilst also fitting flexibly around my degree.

Together, my summer placement and research project lead me to pursue a career in research. I’m moving up to Edinburgh to start a PhD at their Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at Edinburgh University.

The laboratory experience I’ve gained at Newcastle will be invaluable, as well as the presentation and communications skills I’ve developed throughout my degree and extracurricular activities.