What’s it like to do a PhD in Genetics?
Studying a PhD in Genetics, you’ll gain extensive experience working in the laboratory including western blotting, gel electrophoresis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There are a wide range of methods that can be used to study genes and therefore, you’ll need to research each method to identify those best for your project.
Some typical research topics in Genetics include:
- Studying the genetics of inherited conditions
- Investigating the genetic changes that occur through evolution
- Attempting to find a link between a disease and a certain gene
- Studying the genetic mutations that arise during cancer
- Assessing the dominance of genes
- Identifying the genes involved in a certain process e.g. plant response to excess water
Generally, Genetics programmes are fully-funded projects that are advertised by the university. The main aim and scope of these projects is pre-determined by the supervisor, but when you begin the research, you’ll be responsible for shaping the project.
Proposing a project yourself is uncommon in Genetics as you’ll need to find a supervisor with the expertise in your area and equipment you’ll need to conduct your research. Finding funding to cover bench fees on top of PhD fees also makes this a more tricky option.
Regardless of your funding, your day-to-day life will be similar. You’ll mostly be in the laboratory setting up and running experiments, analysing data from past experiments, and talking to your colleagues and supervisor about your latest plans, methods and results. Your PhD will end in a thesis (approximately 60,000 words), which you’ll defend during a viva exam.