Student profile

Priscila Alejandra Páez López

"I’m proud to say I’ve been accepted onto the highly competitive Scientist Training Programme. Being an overseas student, I didn’t hold out much hope of success. But with the knowledge acquired during my MSc and the support from the academic staff at Surrey, I’ve secured a place."

Entry year
2020
Research project

Validation of thyroid tumour dosimetry

Choosing Surrey

I initially studied physics at the National Polytechnic School in Ecuador. I came to Surrey because I liked the modules and the length of the course. Unlike other programmes, the modules included topics beyond ionising radiation. The University also has a good reputation and the MSc is accredited by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM).

The student profiles I read helped me get an idea of what the learning experience would be like, too. And I liked the fact that Guildford was not a big or crowded city and that it was close to London.

Why medical physics?

I first learned about nuclear medicine and radiotherapy when I was in my second year as an undergraduate. I was amazed by the fact we could use radiation, something I thought was intrinsically harmful, to image and treat organs or tumours. I wanted to learn more about it and be part of new scientific breakthroughs in that area.

I also like the fact that medical physics is a direct application of physics into treating patients and improving lives. I believe radiotherapy with radioisotopes is one of the areas of nuclear medicine where there’s a great need to implement adequate dosimetry protocols, which ensure the correct dosage is used to create a specific area, and I’d like to be part of this pioneering movement.

My course

I’m studying an MSc in Medical Physics. My dissertation research project is on validation of thyroid tumour dosimetry. With appropriate dosimetry protocols for nuclear medicine, there’s a possibility to improve tumour treatment and increase the success rate of therapy with radioisotopes.

I enjoy the laboratory sessions the most. I’ve always liked spending time in the lab and making measurements. Whenever I’m there, the hours pass so quickly that I always wish I had more time! The labs at Surrey are well equipped and the staff are truly helpful, which make the experience even more enjoyable.

Staff and facilities

All the academic staff are welcoming and willing to help. With the pandemic and all the unforeseen circumstances, it was important to know we could communicate with them whenever needed. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d have liked on campus. But by spending time at the teaching labs, where I worked as a demonstrator and had lab sessions as a student, I could see the facilities were well equipped and maintained.

I had to start the course from Ecuador since I couldn’t travel to the UK due to the pandemic. The online resources were really helpful and I didn’t feel like I was missing on something that would affect my learning.

Life at Surrey

I’m enjoying my time as a student at Surrey. I like Guildford and the accommodation at Hazel Farm. I’ve enjoyed living with people from different countries and learning about their customs, food and language.

I especially like the Library and the fact I can access it 24 hours a day and there are individual spaces to study.

I also did a Global Graduate Award in French, so I learned a new language and made some good friends. I started following the NHS Couch to 5K programme, too, because I wanted to do some exercise. I ended up liking it more than I expected. I now run every other day. It’s my way of relaxing and spending some time alone.

The future

I’m proud to say I’ve been accepted onto the highly competitive Scientist Training Programme (STP). Being an overseas student, I didn’t hold out much hope of success. But with the knowledge acquired during my MSc and the support from the academic staff at Surrey, I’ve secured a place.

I’ve always been interested in pursuing a PhD, but right now I’m starting the STP. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to successfully complete the STP and I’ll be able to pursue a PhD. I like both the clinic and research, which is why I’m planning on working on both in the future.

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