"Surrey gave me a more in-depth and wide-versed exposure to the microbiology field. I had previously been working in microbiology before I joined the course, but the programme expanded both my knowledge in the field and strengthened and grew my lab skills."
Heather Lapp is a Senior Research Associate at T2 Biosystems, and shares her Surrey experience.
What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your programme here?
I chose the UK for my studies (I'm from the USA) because my dad and grandma were British and I wanted to experience my heritage first-hand. Specifically, I chose the University of Surrey because I really liked the MSc Medical Microbiology programme. It was different from similar programmes at other universities: two years of courses plus a two year research project.
What were the best things about your programme?
I really enjoyed working with my project supervisor and head of the programme at the time, Dr. Dany Beste. She was great to learn from and I'm glad I had to opportunity to work with her! In addition, I found the guest lecturers to be a great part of the programme. We were able to hear from so many different people across many microbiological fields.
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey student?
I learned to become very independent. I moved to Surrey and the UK knowing no one, so I had to learn to get things done without a parent or friend by my side at first.
What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?
I currently work in biotech in a research and development microbiology team in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA; my company develops diagnostic products to help improve patient health. I love the science we have developed and even more so I really enjoy working with my team and the company as a whole. It is great to have amazing co-workers who are all working towards the same goals as you!
How did your time at Surrey influence your career?
Surrey gave me a more in-depth and wide-versed exposure to the microbiology field. I had previously been working in microbiology before I joined the course, but the programme expanded both my knowledge in the field and strengthened and grew my lab skills.
How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?
Don't just learn from books - the lab skills, the hard hands-on skills are critical to succeeding in science. Employers like candidates who were good students, yes, but they love candidates with demonstrated skills who know how to design experiments and solve problems with those skills.
What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important to you/of most interest to you?
As I live in the USA, I love hearing about what is going on back across the pond. I also love seeing what is going on near me; I was able to attend an alumni evening and meet fellow alumni in the Boston area.
What is your happiest memory of your time at Surrey?
I have two. The first would be the moment I completed my viva for my dissertation. I couldn't believe it - after all that work, it was done! I was both proud and relieved. My second happiest was my time as President and Captain of the Surrey Angels, the University of Surrey's cheerleading team. We won two national university competitions and I couldn't have been more excited and proud of my team!
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