What’s it like to do a PhD in Biotechnology?
A PhD in Biotechnology would allow you to develop a specialist set of laboratory skills in areas such as gene editing with CRISPR and gene delivery through transformation, transfection, and transduction. Biotechnology programmes sometimes have a linked industry partner, in which case, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a work placement and gain some hands-on industry experience.
Some typical research topics in Biotechnology include:
- Developing therapeutic delivery vehicles
- Engineering enzymes for industry
- Developing or improving biofuels
- Innovating new methods of using bacteria in industry
- Vaccine development
- Developing pest resistant crops
PhD programmes in Biotechnology are mostly fully-funded by either the university, an industrial partner, a doctoral training programme or a mix of these. The projects tend to be advertised, with the scope of the project determined by the supervisor.
Proposing your own project in Biotechnology is uncommon since you need to find a supervisor with research interests that overlap with yours, with all the equipment and expertise you require, and you’ll have to find funding to cover bench and PhD fees.
Day-to-day, you’ll be in the laboratory performing experiments, creating figures and analysing data you collected previously, and talking to your colleagues and supervisor about your methods and results. On completion of your laboratory work in your final year, you’ll submit an original thesis of around 60,000 words and defend this during your viva exam.