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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

From plants to proteins

Published: 27 April 2010

PhD student Mohinder Pal’s academic journey

Mohinder Pal’s interest in science was sparked as a child when he got the chance to visit a university near his home in Punjab (India) to learn more about experimental crops were being developed. “I saw ‘golden rice’ which contained beta-carotene to benefit eyesight and other fascinating developments with plant genetics. I come from an agricultural area of India near Jalandhar and found it very relevant,” he says.

After taking his first biology degree in India, concentrating on plant science, he became interested in protein crystallography and wanted to know more. “I knew I needed to study abroad for my higher degrees so I enrolled in a Masters of Research degree at Glasgow which was very valuable and honed my skills further.” Talking to academics, Mohinder discovered Southampton was a centre of excellence for research in his area of interest and secured a place at the School of Biological Sciences to study for a PhD under Professor Steve Wood. His research centres around the examination of protein function at a molecular level, work that could lead to the discovery of new molecules that could potentially be used as drugs to tackle conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Southampton is a good environment for study, you can learn from researchers in many different areas, there are no boundaries between the different elements of biological science,” he says. “I appreciated the courses on academic skills and found them very useful. Southampton is also a safe city and very welcoming to new people. I soon got to know everyone in the School.” Although finance was an issue, Mohinder was supported by charitable trusts throughout his PhD studies.

When Professor Wood moved to University College London, Mohinder also moved to London to complete his PhD with his supervisor and now hopes to secure funding for post-doctoral work in future.

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