Alumni Rebecca Ruscoe

Rebecca Ruscoe is currently completing her PhD studies at The University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry. Following this, she will take up a Research Associate post at The University of Nottingham. We asked Rebecca what she most enjoys about her PhD and how she thinks it will help her career.

What does your PhD involve?

This position is a research-based PhD. The majority of my time is spent in the laboratory working towards developing methods in organic chemistry in order to produce medicinally relevant compounds.

As part of my PhD, I present my research at conferences in the form of presentations and posters. I’ve also been involved in supervising undergraduates in the teaching laboratories, as well as final-year Masters students working in the same research laboratory as me.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

The role is problem-based, which can be frustrating at times, but with commitment and hard work you can reach a solution. This is a very satisfying feeling and gives you a real buzz!

Managing a team is also very rewarding, as I help others to achieve exciting things.

Why did you decide to stay in higher education after completing your undergraduate degree?

I worked at a pharmaceutical company for 12 months during my undergraduate degree and it was clear to me that pursing a PhD would give me a greater understanding and appreciation of the science that is essential for pursuing a career in scientific research, whether that is academic or industry-based.

Why did you pick The University of Manchester?

I had completed my undergraduate degree here and fell in love with Manchester and the University over those four years - I just wanted to stay longer! When I saw the PhD project advertised and it was exactly what I wanted in a research project, I found it hard to justify leaving Manchester.

How did you find the research support and facilities on this course?

The research support and facilities were very good and this is a credit to the staff in the School of Chemistry. Whenever I needed help or advice, the staff were quick to respond to my queries and did everything possible to help with any issues I was having.

What have been the main differences between your experience of your PhD and undergraduate degree courses?

The main difference is the workload. I always felt as an undergraduate that I worked all the time, but - as I’ve realised since starting my PhD studies - this was clearly not the case!

It was surprising how many more hours in the day there were once I began researching, and the difference was that I was doing the research for me! I was the one driving the results and working harder to discover new things. Whereas, looking back to when I was an undergraduate, the deadlines I was trying to meet were usually put in place by the School.

What did you most enjoy about your research?

My PhD was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and part of the course requires students to carry out a short placement. This gave me the opportunity to work and live in another country, which was the best experience I could have had and had a positive impact on my research when I returned to the University.

This city is fantastic. There are lots of things going on and I am never bored.

What did you most enjoy about living and studying in Manchester?

The city is fantastic. There are lots of things going on and I am never bored. Personally, I enjoy the fact that I am quite close to the Peak District, as I love the outdoors. Manchester is a great place for being in the hustle and bustle of a city, but also escaping to the quiet countryside that is just a short drive away.

How did you fund your study, and do you believe it to have been a worthwhile investment?

I was awarded a scholarship from the BBSRC, which covered my tuition fees and paid out a stipend monthly. Looking back, I have learnt so much about my subject and, more importantly, about myself. The skills I have learnt have set me up well for a future in chemistry.

What do you think was the most valuable aspect of choosing to study at The University of Manchester?  

I got to know the staff and department very well during my undergraduate degree. This, along with the events that the School and University run, has allowed me to establish connections for the future that will be very useful.

What skills and knowledge from your postgrad studies are most important to you?

All the skills I have learnt during my postgraduate studies have helped me, as I will take them all into my next role. These include; communication, research, organisation and team working skills, to name just a few.

How do you anticipate your qualification will help you in your career?

Without a PhD, I would not have been able to take up my new position.

What advice would you give to students hoping to pursue a similar career path?

It’s hard work, so be prepared for that, but don’t let it put you off. It is worth it in the end!

What are your career ambitions and what do you hope to be doing and achieving in 10 years’ time?

Either I would like to continue in academia, working my way up to a more senior role, or I would be happy to apply my skills to an industrial setting. Time will tell!

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