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Kristiana Brink (Leicester MIBTP)

Name: Kristiana Brink
1. What is your home university, what department and lab are you in?

University of Leicester, Genetics and Genome Biology, Social Epigenetics Lab (Dr. Eamonn Mallon)

2. What type of studentship are you on? CASE, iCASE, etc.

Standard MIBTP

3. How did you organise your accommodation for the first year?

I lived in privately rented accommodation for the first year in Leicester as I was familiar with the city however this resulted in a lot of costs because of commuting.

4. How did you manage commuting to UoW for the first term?

I had a car for the first 3 months of the course which really helped with commuting to UoW, the transport links between Leicester and UoW are not the best and is quite expensive. It takes usually around 30-60mins to drive depending on traffic and the parking permits at Warwick are £30 per month. If you need to get public transport then it’s a train from Leicester to Coventry (changing at Nuneaton) then a bus to UoW.

Your best bet is seeing who else is from Leicester is driving and setting up a car-share, much quicker and cheaper!

5. How did you organise your mini-projects?

For my away mini-project, I first spoke to my supervisor and asked if he had any advice. From the names he gave me as well as looking at the list provided by MIBTP I narrowed it down to which I thought would interest me the most and be able to gain skills for that would help further my PhD. Also, for transport reasons, it was easier for me to commute from Leicester to Birmingham so that influenced my decision. I was lucky that another 1st year MIBTP student is doing a project closely related to my field so we actually ended up “swapping” labs and both gained a great contact for future work. My home mini-project was carried out in the same lab the rest of my PhD will be in.

6. How did you organise your PIPS?

I found mine through the advertised PIPs we get through our emails. My placement is going to be this summer (July-September) at a start-up company in Cambridge called CamBioScience where I’ll be helping organise and market life science conferences. I also found that many of the societies and charities such as The Biochemical Society, The Royal Institute and British Ecological Society are often advertising for interns so are worth getting in contact with. There are many blogs/websites that also list potential organisations for PIPs and advertisements such as

7. Is there anything you wished you'd known before you started?

Where to live was something I struggled the most with once I was accepted onto the course. While the program is a great experience gaining expertise from different unis and picking up new skills to bring to your PhD, all this travelling can be a strain on both your bank balance and your life outside your PhD. From a Leicester student prospective, I think living closer to one of the other unis for at least the first 3-6 months would be the best solution. Even living in Birmingham is easier for commuting to Warwick than Leicester as you can get a season rail pass much cheaper. This will save you a lot of stress in the first term commuting to UoW for the training. Also, as it’s difficult to find short term lets try to think ahead for your away mini-project. If you’re already living away from your home uni it will be easier to continue living there and do your away mini-project first! So starting thinking ahead of time of where you’d like to do your away mini-project and try to get it sorted to fit in with your accommodation to make your life easier! (Plus this will give you less stress in the first term of MIBTP as the deadline for deciding your first project comes round fast – November).