Skip to main content

Elise Ling

BSc in Biochemistry, graduated July 2018, First Class Honours Degree.

PhD student, Newcastle University

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Newcastle University. I was initially drawn to the course because of the ability to complete a range of different subject modules (Genetics, Physiology, Cell Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology and Biochemistry) in the first year. This gave me the opportunity to experience various biosciences modules before committing to a specific course in the second year.


During my second year, I took advantage of the opportunity to complete an industrial placement. I had thoroughly enjoyed the lab practicals completed in the undergraduate course. However, I wanted to gain an insight into where a scientific career could lead and how my Biochemistry degree could be applied. A lot of support was provided by the industrial placement coordinators at Newcastle University who helped check my applications and prepared me for interviews. I was offered a placement at the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Co, as a fermentation development scientist where I developed a small scale fermentation model representative of plant production. As well as undertaking the lab work, I presented my data in weekly meetings with colleagues and recorded all results in accordance with GMP guidelines. Taking part in the industrial placement confirmed I wanted to pursue a career in scientific research and gave me insight into how I would achieve this.

When I returned to Newcastle for the final year of my degree I was much more confident in the lab because I had spent a whole year planning and executing experiments independently. I also understood how the theoretical concepts that we studied in lectures could be applied in scientific research. This was extremely beneficial when completing the final year research project in Prof Austin's lab. My project involved analysing the DNA cleavage specificity of the human enzyme, DNA topoisomerase II, in conjunction with chemotherapeutic drugs. I thoroughly enjoyed the project and was fortunate enough in that I was offered a four year funded PhD in Prof Austin's lab. From my industrial placement, I knew I was very keen to complete a PhD and because of all the support Newcastle University had offered during my undergraduate degree I decided to continue my postgraduate studies here.

l'm now in the second year of my PhD and have had many opportunities alongside the PhD research, which include attending a conference in Switzerland where I presented some of my research in a talk and through a poster, and I have a 3 month placement in Strasbourg organised to gain experience in a structural biology technique (CryoEM).

The academic opportunities available to me whilst at Newcastle University have been fantastic and it is a great place to study. Both the education and social side of Newcastle has made the last 6 years extremely enjoyable. I will look back at my time fondly in years to come!