Q&A with Matt Ball, MSc Stem Cells & Translational Neurology Graduate
We chat to Matt about his experience of the online MSc Stem Cells and Translational Neurology programme.
1. First of all, please tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far.
I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was very interested in science class, but perhaps as interested in stand-up comedy and even more-so in sport. To be honest, when I graduated high school, I aimlessly attended undergraduate university.
Whilst there however, I undoubtedly matured and began to develop a love for asking questions, thinking critically and ultimately seeking truth. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology & travelled thereafter to Europe.
After some exposure to the UK, I discovered the MSc Stem Cells and Translational Neurology programme and gave a better aimed shot to apply!
In terms of career, I’ve collaborated with faculty on writing manuscripts, analyzing data and used my credentials from Edinburgh for employment across Canada.
2. Why did you choose to study the MSc Stem Cells and Translational Neurology?
I chose this MSc programme because I’ve always had an interest in the brain & nervous system. Neurodegenerative diseases remain a ginormous issue in all our lives and require (in my opinion) a lot more attention.
I was also interested in the potential of stem cells for either research or therapeutic purposes, especially since it’s a trendy topic in medicine. Put together into one course, it seemed like a no-brainer to apply!
The reputation and high ranking of the university played a role, too. I should note that it wasn’t till after the fact but I discovered that the online programme is immensely accommodating for students since the faculty recognizes everyone has their own lives outside of the course.
3. What is/was your favourite aspect of the programme? And what was the biggest challenge?
There were many! One thing I loved was that every course heavily relied on discussions and thinking about topics was actively encouraged. Every course stressed the questions, ‘what do you think or what research did you find’ rather than blankly stating ‘here’s what to think’. It made for a great learning atmosphere.
The lecturers go off script sometimes too which helped me see the bigger picture. There’s so many dilemmas, applications and points to be discussed you can’t possibly discuss stem cell biology in a restricted manner. Biology tends to be always modifying, so it makes sense that the course be, too.
I also recall feeling like I am truly learning from the world’s greatest scientists and academics. Having the ability to converse and learn from these experts was a really cool feeling which I’m sure I’ll remember.
I think these same benefits were also the main challenges. It meant that you had to show up prepared, had to have thought about the topics and had to remain focused.
4. How has the programme benefited your career?
I would say the programme has benefited my career outlook in three primary ways.
Firstly, I’ve witnessed doors of opportunity open whether it be for employment, going for a side certification or simply from meeting professionals on the course. I think there’s something to be said to have that ‘University of Edinburgh’ name on the CV.
Secondly, this programme has really given me a confidence-boost to approach novel tasks in my life indirectly helping career prospects. Lastly, without spoiling it, there are some underlying concepts throughout the course that can be applied to virtually every other discipline. This enables students to be versatile to take an idea and run with it.
5. Would you recommend this programme to other people? If yes, why?
I have been fortunate to see the MSc programme evolve from year-to-year. I’d bet the bank that your experience will be even better than the one I had, which is really saying something.
For anyone thinking about applying, I should mention that my fellow classmates came from all different backgrounds from all over the world. There was a sense that everyone was brought together by a common denominator of wanting to learn and improve themselves.
So, easy answer: Yes! I would recommend this programme to anyone who is curious about the world, has an interest in neuroscience, biology or regenerative medicine or wishes to experience a top-notch university. I hope that others can get the same benefits I have received!