Centre for Inflammation Research

Student testimonials

Meet some of our CIR students

Head shot of Emily Watts

Emily Watts

Respiratory Medicine PhD

From:  Scotland

Year: 1st


What did you do before your PhD?

I am a respiratory registrar in the south east Scotland deanery and have taken 3 years out of clinical training to complete my PhD at the CIR.

Why did you choose the CIR/UoE?

The CIR has an excellent reputation for clinical and basic science research. The lung group within the CIR has extensive expertise in the innate immune system and provides a very supportive environment for my project which looks at neutrophil function in respiratory disease.

What aspects of the PhD have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to?

I have most enjoyed developing my laboratory skills. The day to day job is very different to clinical medicine and I have also enjoyed having the opportunity to read more broadly around my subject.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying for a PhD within the CIR?

I think the CIR is a great place to be a PhD student. It has a very supportive atmosphere and there are lots of seminars and other opportunities to hear about current research both from local and visiting academics.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your PhD?

After my PhD I will return to clinical medicine to complete my training but hope to apply for postdoctoral funding to continue my career as a clinical academic.


Head shot of Jennifer Felton

Jennifer Felton

Inflammation PhD

From: Brighton

Current Year:  3rd


What motivated you to undertake a PhD?  I always knew I wanted a career in science from a young age, and found during the last year of my undergrad that I had a great passion for immunology. So one of my friends suggested I apply for a PhD in my final year, as that is what he did after his undergrad, so I did! I was completely expecting not even to get invited for an interview, let alone given a position, but knew I wanted to pursue a carrier in immunology research by this point so decided to give it a go. 

Why did you choose CIR/UoE?  I researched a few universities that were offering immunology based PhDs and found the MRC CIR/UoE position that was 4 years and allowed you to design and pick your own final PhD research project. This appealed to me as it gave you a year to figure out what you wanted to work on during the mini-project year, before deciding your final PhD project. Most of the other positions I applied for had pre-set projects with titles already and I like the flexibility offered by the CIR, and the reputation they had for ground-breaking research.

What aspects of the PhD have you enjoyed the most?  I have enjoyed learning new techniques and setting up new protocols within the lab. Over my PhD I have been quite fortunate to collaborate with a lot of international researchers who have kindly helped me to set up experiments using protocols they have devised, meaning I have been able to perform state of the art experiments that have greatly contributed towards the development of my project. I have also really enjoyed the in vivo aspect of my work, which although challenging at times has been very rewarding. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying for a PhD within CIR?  If you are considering applying to come work within the CIR I would really recommend it, there are so many highly skilled PI’s and researchers who would love to have you come work with them, and who you would really enjoy working with. The lab environment is very friendly and there are so many things going on that you are always able to collaborate and find new things to do and learn, meaning you will quickly find areas of research you are interested or more importantly not so interested in, to help you find your niche. Despite being hard work at times (which I am sure a PhD is anywhere regardless of the environment), I would recommend it to anyone.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your PhD?  I am in the process of writing up my thesis and applying for postdoc positions within the MRC CIR/UoE at the moment. I am planning to remain within the University, working as a researcher for a few years before deciding if I want to apply for grants and potentially start a small research group or stay working as a postdoc/research assistant.