Meet student Alexandru Voda
WHAT YEAR ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR PHD ON?
I'm currently in the 2nd year of my DPhil under the supervision of Dr. Luke Jostins-Dean and Prof. Alison Simmons. My project at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology is exploring the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease by building statistical tools to model the involvement of various cell types and states in disease course.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO A DPHIL AT THE KENNEDY INSTITUTE?
I studied biomedical sciences at the University of Manchester and had taken courses in a broad range of biomedical topics. During the degree, I had also taken a sandwich year to work in the van der Linden lab at the University of Nevada.
I was attracted to this DPhil program for several reasons. Firstly, the project and co-supervisors were a great fit for me. Furthermore, the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, NDORMS and the University of Oxford are famous and vibrant academic communities, which made the prospects of the project even better.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT THE KENNEDY?
Kennedy students receive a lot of benefits, from access to a great network of investigators to various grants that can fund your work. The DPhil program is well organised, structuring our work and training for specific well-planned endpoints (such as the 1st year transfer examination, the 2nd year literature review, etc). There are numerous other bonuses to being a KIR student, including the Genomics Forum (a weekly meeting dedicated to disseminating our research with omics) and the immunology journal club. Needless to say, people are very friendly and open at the Kennedy. Making friends and getting to know other students is easy and encouraged through social events.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A DPHIL STUDENT AT OXFORD?
Oxford is definitely an interesting place. The University and its Colleges are an intricate system, yet it also has very different advantages. For example, every graduate student at the University of Oxford has a college advisor, a professor who is working on a topic very similar to the project you're undertaking. This is a more informal yet very useful help during your degree.
Last but not least, a great thing to enjoy in Oxford is the traditions (such as the formal hall events). This place has a rich history, I've enjoyed it much already, and hope to experience more of it in the future too.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS
Find out more about the projects available on the NDORMS and Kennedy Institute websites. There's a broad range of topics and techniques explored. If one of them hits your topic of interest, I believe you'll enjoy the experience a lot.
If you do join NDORMS, make sure to attend some of the external seminars as well. These bring world experts in various biomedical topics to speak at Oxford. I've personally enjoyed them a lot.