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The University of Southampton
Biological SciencesPostgraduate study

Kathryn D’Abreu MRes Advanced Biological Sciences course

Kathryn D’Abreu's Photo

Before applying for this MRes programme, I worked as a Plant Physiology Research Assistant which really fuelled my passion for plant research. When I was preparing for the next stage of my academic career, I was certain about wanting to pursue a research-rigorous postgraduate degree, especially as my main aim is to pursue a PhD in Plant Physiology.

The MRes Advanced Biological Sciences programme here at Southampton provides me with many ideal opportunities to experience the demands of scientific research and expectations of postgraduate scientists. It also provides me with invaluable training for PhD study. We are placed in active research groups based on our research preferences and given novel, high impact projects

My project with Dr. Lorraine Williams investigates the regulation of genes that show potential for involvement in the Zn deficiency response in barley. We are also looking at the role of microRNAs in mediating this deficiency response. This research is important as approximately a third of the world’s population is Zn deficient, which is strongly correlated to the heavy reliance on cereal crops that are naturally low in bioavailable Zn.  

We work closely with our project supervisors and receive continuous guidance which is very important for our progress and development. It has been great to call a project my own and know that I am contributing to original scientific knowledge!  In the lab, we are trained to conduct state-of-the-art scientific techniques that greatly increase our marketability as research scientists. Also, being fully integrated into the research group, contributing to lab meeting discussions and being given opportunities to train other members of the lab has truly boosted my confidence as a postgraduate scientist and helps me refine my craft. We are also given responsibilities in the lab that allows us to contribute to the smooth running of the group. It is a great opportunity to enhance teamwork and communication skills that are vital for PhD study.


This MRes programme is unique as there is also a taught component that we must undertake. We chose four modules for the entire year based on our interests and the nature of our project. Especially for someone undergoing a career change from Biomedical Sciences to Plant Biology, my modules have proven instrumental in my theoretical understanding of the subject. After every lecture, I am able to piece together information that will help me understand my project a little bit more. The course content is current, interesting and relevant to today’s big problems. Our lecturers are at the forefront of their fields, so we are taught the latest research findings as part of our curriculum. We are also given challenging coursework that helps us hone our scientific written and verbal communication skills, in the form of posters, presentations and critical appraisals. These tasks are commonplace in PhD study, so it is great to develop these skills now. I will definitely recommend this course for anyone seeking to pursue a PhD, or to confirm whether they would like to pursue a research career after their undergraduate studies. Being an International student, from Trinidad and Tobago, I have found Southampton to become a home away from home. It is a friendly, welcoming place with great travel links to major UK/ European cities, and has some of the best weather in Britain.

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