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Will Taverner is a DPhil student in Len Seymour's lab.
In this interview Will explains his research and tells us about his recent presentation at a conference in Mexico

Tell us a little about your research.

I am a 4th year DPhil student on the Synthetic Biology CDT programme, and a member of Prof Len Seymour's research group. Our lab predominantly works on oncolytic viruses, using viruses as a treatment for cancer that is, and in particular we focus on adenovirus. My research focuses on the relationship between adenovirus infection and ER stress, a common cell state in cancers. I have also been looking into how particular sequences in the regulatory regions of mRNAs might affect the translation of such RNAs under conditions of cell stress.

Why does your research matter?

As is the case for all ongoing research in our department, this research is important in the effort to help patients currently suffering from cancer, and to the many of us that will be affected by the disease within our lifetimes. Importantly, the field of oncolytic virotherapy holds great promise for benefits to patients and strives for the ambitious goal of a one-time curative treatment. My work should provide a foundational understanding of some of the ways that the particular virus which we are developing achieves powerful oncolytic efficiency and specificity. This information might then be exploited for the purpose of improving the virus as a therapy.

You recently presented at a conference in Mexico, what was your presentation about? How did you find this experience?

The conference in Mexico, the 13th International Adenovirus Meeting, was a great meeting held in a fantastic setting with some really brilliant science on display. I presented the work I have been doing over the last couple of years as part of my DPhil project, I think it was received well and the experience overall was a really valuable one. To any students early on in the postgraduate studies, I would definitely recommend putting yourself out there and getting to know the other scientists in your field, presenting at a conference is also a great way to build your confidence and receive useful feedback and comments.

If you could give one piece of advice about delivering presentations, what would it be?

I'm not sure how qualified I am to be advising in this respect, but all I can say is practice your presentation and make sure you stick to your time limit, there's no excuse for going over time! Other than that, present the work to someone who is less familiar in the field and make sure they can follow your talk, and good luck!

How did you get to where you are today?

I have followed what is probably quite a typical path of applying to PhD positions after my undergraduate degree. As I said, I was accepted onto the Synthetic Biology CDT programme and after a year of teaching lab rotations joined the Seymour group.

What do you get up to outside of work?

Outside of work I try to do a lot sport, I play for the university rugby league team, and am also keen on snowboarding and surfing.