Alicia Showering

Project: The role of the Skin Microbiome in Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes

What were you doing before you joined the MRC DTP scheme?

I was studying for my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. I felt ready to continue pursuing a career in science, so was searching for a PhD programme that was a good fit for me. I knew my chances of getting a place on a PhD programme without a masters degree were low, so was also looking for master’s programme I could afford without taking a year out to save up!

Why did you choose your primary institution (LSHTM or SGUL)?

I chose LSHTM for its world leading reputation in public health/ Epidemiology and the exciting PhD project advertised, which combined my interests in infectious disease, molecular microbiology and statistics!

What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day work and the people you work with?

I enjoy the variety from practical work in the lab, to bioinformatics and the freedom to decide how I will approach each task. My PhD project gives me the chance to work in a number of labs at LSHTM with different research groups, which has given me the opportunity to meet many fellow researchers who I can discuss ideas with, which helps to keep moving forwards!

What do you value most about the MRC DTP studentship?

The variety of training available through the studentship is excellent. I was fortunate to study my masters in Epidemiology through my studentship, which gave me an excellent grounding in statistics and study design. I have since studied a variety of MSc modules and attended training at both LSHTM and SGUL. Flexible funding is also available to support training opportunities that are not available at LSHTM/SGUL. The three month placements MRC LID offers are also an exciting opportunity to try something different!

What additional training have you attended with MRC DTP money?

I have had the opportunity to do some invaluable courses which have included microbial statistics and bioinformatics courses. I also got the opportunity to enter the YES20 competition, with three other MRC LID students. The YES competition gives PhD students the chance to develop a hypothetical business idea and pitch it to investors!

Where did you go on your placement? What did you do?

I am yet to arrange my placement but I hope to do it in early 2022. I have a few exciting ideas in the pipeline!

Do you have any tips for future MRC DTP scholarship applicants?

If you aren’t sure you are quite ready yet but see a project that aligns with your interests go for it!

A practical tip: make sure you discuss the project with the supervisors to get a better idea if it is right for you before you apply!

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