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Nic Coltman - Birmingham iCASE

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

School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham. Dr Nikolas Hodges’ Lab , Molecular Toxicology

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

iCASE studentship, industrial partner Sygnature Discovery Ltd

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

Both during my first year and for the duration of my PhD, I will be living in Leicester. Having bought a house, a cat, and getting engaged, my situation is perhaps not the norm for most PhD students!

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

During the first term, for modules hosted by UoW, I drove to Warwick on a daily basis and obtained a parking permit from the reception at the School of Biosciences. The cost of a permit was either £4.50 as a one-off, £40 which gave you 10 tickets, or a monthly pass could be purchased for ~ £30. The journey from Leicester to Warwick was an easy one, averaging 30-60 mins each way, depending on departure time. The parking permits allowed you to park in a number of carparks around UoW, including at Gibbet Hill (Life Sciences). I know several people that also chose to drive to UoW from various locations, many of whom also lift-shared. The stiped uplift/travel grant sounds sizeable but it disappearers very quickly, its therefore important to be savvy with your travel, even if this means booking 20 individual rail tickets and standing for 40 mins at New Street station printing them all!

In order to commute to UoB I will be using a combination of the train and/or my motorbike. On average from Leicester to Birmingham, a rail fare is anywhere between £10-15 return, and a season ticket can be purchased for ~ £150-180 p.c.m.

5. How did you organise your mini-projects?

My mini project was hosted by the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, Leicester. I approached two professors at the Unit prior to beginning the PhD programme at a conference I had been invited to attend. Between the months of September and December 2017, I began visiting the unit, wrote and pitched a proposal for a 3 month mini-project all based around mitochondrial toxicity and the apoptosome. I submitted the proposal to the MIBTP directors which was then accepted and I began at the unit in January 2018.

6. How did you organise your PIPS?

As I am an iCASE student, I have chosen to undertake professional training with my industrial partner as part of my placement time with them. At UoB, via the graduate school, we have the opportunity to undertake a post graduate certificate that will equip us with skills beyond our research, it is my intention to undertake business-skills related training with my industrial partner to satisfy some of the criteria of the PGCARMS programme at UoB.

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

I was at an advantage being an iCASE student and knowing both my academic and industrial supervisors on a personal basis, this really allowed me to gain an insight into the programme before I started and really hit the ground running; this was particularly useful for organising my mini-project as I had a bit more idea of my timelines during the first year. In addition, having completed an MRes in the same laboratory at UoB, I was already aware of the processes that I was required to undertake at UoB. I have been very fortunate in my position, that I haven’t entered the DTP, naïve to much at all, the information given as part of the induction week was adequate to satisfy my own needs however I can appreciate that other, newer students to PGR might not be so savvy to the information I had available to me. Hopefully my short commentary might be of some use to someone, somewhere!