Hudson Alakonya, Current Postdoctoral Fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA, using a microsope
The PhD in Oncology at Oxford is a rigorous research-oriented program that endow researchers with cutting-edge research skills in various areas of oncology research. During our induction day in October 2018, I was pleased to meet young researchers from diverse backgrounds across the globe with varying interests in the field of cancer research. As research student, you have the liberty to select a research project that suits your passion, and which you will work on over a three to four-year time course under supervised by two professors. In my first few months I was able to do a rigorous literature review guided by my main supervisor which enabled me to understand and refine the scope and objectives of my project. I was also trained by seniors PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on various techniques and assays I needed to use during the course of my research work.
The program is structured to inculcate independent thinking and execution of research ideas supported by great and kind supervision by professors. I was particularly impressed by both my main supervisor Prof. Cornelissen and co-supervisor Prof. O’Neil, who made my research work to flow without any major restraints, a culture I noticed is shared among professors at the department. I would meet them once every week to give update on my progress and my general wellbeing, which was very helpful, both scientifically and mentally. PhD students are also able to learn from fellow students, post-docs and other professors through weekly departmental research seminars where people give presentations about their work. I found this to be very intellectually enriching as one is able to appreciate the heterogeneity and complexity of oncology research. This also helped us to horn our scientific presentation skills. In addition, we had the opportunity to present our research findings in international conferences, which is supported fully by the department. Last but not least, the Department of Oncology through the oxford Medical division offers a variety of free courses such as statistics, thesis writing, research ethics, scientific presentation and viva preparation, which helped improved my knowledge store significantly.
Lastly, the university of Oxford is a prestigious world-class institution embedded in the beautiful and erudite City of Oxford. The City/University has a variety of interesting places to tour including museums rich in archaic culture and historical artefacts, beautiful parks and safe rivers for boat rowing, whose experience help to refresh and nourish the mind empowering it to want to do more science to save lives and enhance humanity. I would highly recommend anyone considering to pursue a PhD in oncology to choose Oxford, and they will find it very rewarding and intellectually empowering.