Hannah Bolland


Subject area

I am currently a Junior Group Leader in cancer biology at the University of Surrey. Very broadly my job entails: planning and designing experiments, doing the actual experiments in the lab, writing papers for publications, applying for grants, peer reviewing papers, teaching and mentoring, supervising students, and public engagement.

Having only very recently started my own group, I am still in the lab doing the actual laboratory experiments, this includes techniques like CRISPR, qPCR, western blot, RNA-seq, and confocal microscopy. As I get my first grants, I will be able to hire a post doc to help me complete the work.

I knew that this was an area I wished to work in was when I studied a module on cancer biology during my Master’s degree. I then decided to do my masters dissertation on an ovarian cancer topic. After that I very quickly decided I could never get bored of learning about cancer, and I loved being in the lab so I decided to a PhD. Doing a PhD was the best 3 years of my life and from then I was certain I wanted to stay in academic research.

Hannah Bolland

Having a solid theatrical knowledge in “the basics” such as genetics, cell biology, metabolic pathways, cell signalling is essential for a career in research and the modules I studied at Loughborough formed the basis of this for me.

Understanding key concepts such as statistics and data analysis sounds boring when you're an undergrad but is essential for research and something I was first taught at Lougborough.

After I graduated from Loughborough I knew I wanted to carry on studying, so I studied for an M.Med.Sci in Clinical Embryology for a year, followed by a PhD in Oncology over three years.

I then completed a one-year post doc at the University of Nottingham, a three-and-a-half-year post doc at the University of Oxford and now aged 30 I am a Group Leader running my own research lab. It sounds like a long time spent at University, but it goes so quickly you don’t realise.

The highlight of my time at Loughborough was the whole experience. The atmosphere on campus was fantastic, the Students Union was amazing. I made friends on my course that I am still in touch with 8 years later.

The career advice I would give to current students is to do what makes you excited/what you are genuinely curious about otherwise you’ll get bored of your job pretty quickly.

Speak to lots of different people about their careers and what they enjoy about it. Many of my friends have gone into patent law, medical writing, policy, and medical liaison. There are so many careers in science not just lab work.

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