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Biological Sciences

Francesca Pipkin BSc Pharmacology, 2016

Francesca Pipkin's Photo

Pharmacology student, Francesca Pipkin tells us about her time at Southampton.

The staff are amazing! They are really knowledgeable in their respective fields and really approachable. They are all such genuinely interesting and lovely people and it is nice just to chat to them about their research and interest areas as well as learning from some of the top researchers in the country.

Why did you choose the course you study?

The course was something different that provided new challenges and seemed to be the perfect mixture between biology and chemistry

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

Southampton was such a lovely green and bright campus and the whole atmosphere was really welcoming and enthusiastic and genuine

What do you enjoy most about studying at Southampton?

I really enjoy the support that you receive from all your peers and the staff as well as the research-based focus of study. The chance to be at the forefront of cutting-edge science and actively contribute to current understanding with project work is something I have found really exciting

What do you think of the teaching staff?

The staff are amazing! They are really knowledgeable in their respective fields and really approachable. They are all such genuinely interesting and lovely people and it is nice just to chat to them about their research and interest areas as well as learning from some of the top researchers in the country

What is the student support like here?

Highly recommend the student support structure that has multiple levels:

How have the facilities contributed to your learning?

Facilities are state of the art and really keep up to date with current requirements. The dedicated life sciences building has a good breath of equipment and places for quiet study and social breaks to give a healthy learning atmosphere

Have there been any opportunities outside of the classroom/ lab that you particularly enjoyed?

I was highly encouraged to take extra learning opportunities when they arose. External British Pharmacological Society course such as the in vivo technique course for further ethical understanding of broad research techniques and attending various conferences have really helped to gain some context my university learning. The challenging nature of the in vivo course in particular was very rewarding to succeed in that environment and meet other students from different universities and learn about the differences in teaching methods. I loved the conferences that gave great networking experience and the confidence to discuss current healthcare topics with panels of experts and actually receive some positive feedback on some of my suggestions

Did you complete an industrial placement?

I completed a 14 month industrial placement at Sanofi, which is a leading EU pharmaceutical company. I worked in the regulatory affairs department monitoring new safety legislation and maintaining medical drug documentation to ensure patient safety. This office-based placement enabled me to see a different side to the pharmacology research than I had already experienced and I gained insight into a working environment I could not have got any other way. The responsibility given to me in this role was amazing and allowed me to gain some really good life skills and industry know-how within a simply amazing team.

Have you participate in any other groups/ societies/ activities outside of the classroom? If so what are they and what do you enjoy most about them?

I have taken part in StageSoc which are the backstage crew for many of the University shows and I have really enjoyed the teamwork aspect as well as the ability to see something you have helped create really resonate with audiences and really be appreciated by the people you are supporting. Also taking part in Creative Writing Society and Fandomonium Society have been a really good way to meet people with similar interest and make friends outside of my degree area

What has been your best memory from your time here?

My top memory is probably my time on placement and getting the opportunity to gain new expertise and lead meetings where I could teach my peers. Also have really enjoyed all of the practical aspects of the course with the practical re-enforcing the knowledge from lectures. My dissertation practical in particular was a definite highlight being able to produce novel data and contribute to further understanding in the field of autism neurobiology.

I have also built some really good relationships with the staff and they really put you at ease and it is clear that they really want you to succeed and have a degree to be proud of as well as making the most of your university experience. I have to make a mention of my personal tutor Professor Vincent O’Connor who has been absolutely lovely and always gives really good advice and is really good at building your self-confidence through finding the positives in situations that you cannot see.

Could you say something about what you would like to do once you graduate?

After graduation I plan to pursue a career in a similar field to my industrial placement, even though having a degree from Southampton has given me a lot more potential options. Mainly because I really enjoyed the placement experience and this has helped to further confirm my chosen career path

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

My advice for new students would be don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t knock something until you’ve tried it. Also always remember that the uni experience is not just about study so remember to make time for some good experiences as well.

Francesca in the lab
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