Student Profiles

Straight from the PhD Scholars:

The PhD Scholars Programme in Cancer Biology currently has ten students working toward PhDs in cancer biology at UCC.  Here is what four Scholars have to say about their experiences in the Programme.

photo: 2008 PhD Scholars with UCC President, Dr. Michael Murphy

Aoife Corcoran

Third-year PhD Scholar from Ireland

"I applied for the PhD Scholars Programme because I knew I wanted to study cancer biology, but I wasn’t sure which aspect within such a broad field. I thought that this programme would give me a taste of the different research areas so I could make an informed choice for my PhD project. I liked the idea of a structured first year, as it helps to bridge the gap between taught undergraduate learning and more independent PhD research. Beginning a PhD can be quite daunting, but having the support provided by this structured system, as well as the assistance of the Training Coordinator and Steering Committee makes a huge difference to your confidence. The rotations allow you to experience the working environment in a range of labs and research groups and select the one that is most suited to you, while giving you a chance to become familiar with a variety of diverse techniques and equipment. When you begin your chosen project, you are already comfortable in a lab environment and you can hit the ground running!"

Abrar Ahmed

Second-year PhD Scholar from Pakistan

 "The Cancer Biology Programme struck me as the ideal route to supplement my research interests without restricting me to a particular field in life sciences.  I liked the structure of the first year—it was well-organized and allowed us to familiarize ourselves with a potential PhD project and supervisor before committing to particular lab.  I believe the PhD Scholars Programme in Cancer Biology will grant us the necessary skills to pursue any research opportunities and will help us to decide exactly what career path we wish to follow."

Ronan O'Riordan

Third-year PhD Scholar from Ireland

"Joining the PhD Scholars Programme was a decision that for me has led to significantly more time being spent on my development as a scientist. I had an offer of a different PhD position and chose to go with the Scholars Programme.

In the PhD Scholars Programme, there is a strong emphasis on learning critical analytical skills in the journal clubs and other modules undertaken in the first and subsequent years, as well as other transferable and generic skills throughout the programme.

Additionally ties with leading academics around the world and with industry experts has meant that I have had the chance to meet several leading scientists and representatives from industry on many occasions. This is something I definitely would not have been able to do outside of this programme. The structure of the programme makes it more demanding but also sets clear targets and means your work is critically assessed regularly; so one doesn't lose track of the goal of producing work for a PhD thesis.

Being part of a cohort of students also means I have a wonderful support group and have made several great friends. It also means great nights out!"  

Janina Berghoff

Second-year PhD Scholar from Germany

"I was looking for a structured, molecular cell biology PhD program outside Germany, preferably in an English speaking country, preferably offering research with clinical application - and I discovered the PhD Scholars Programme in Cancer Biology. The structure of the program suited me well because the first year allowed me to get settled in Cork, get an overview over research here and gain some more experience before having to make a decision about what I actually want to do for my PhD project. I really like that everything is well-organized and it’s not ‘every PhD student on their own’, but I noticed in general that UCC takes better care of their students than most other universities. It’s also not all work, no fun here, there is always something going on in Cork and it’s so easy to travel and enjoy Ireland’s gorgeous landscape or historical sites."

Cancer Biology at UCC