Biochemistry and molecular biology

Career and student perspectives

A degree from the School of Life Sciences opens the doors to a wide range of careers both in science and other areas of work. We aim to equip you with a wide range of skills required to pursue a rewarding career after your studies. In addition to practical and analytical skills, we want you to graduate from Sussex with a wider view of the world.

By planning projects, giving presentations, managing deadlines and defending your views, you will develop the intellectual confidence you need to make your mark in the world of work or studying at a higher level.

But don't just take our word for it. Read what our former and current students have to say about their experience at Sussex and beyond:

Yari Fontebasso

DPhil in Biochemistry (2007 till date)


"Green fields, a vibrant student life, a lively city nearby… do you need any other reason why you should choose the University of Sussex for your postgraduate studies? Now, seriously, being a DPhil student at the Genome Damage and Stability Centre has provided me with the tools I need for my future career: knowledge, experience, skills. And, most of all, a deep look into myself: my potential, my strengths, my weaknesses.  My studies focused on the characterisation of a novel component of the arsenal which living cells use to respond to damage harming our DNA, our precious genetic material. The research DPhil I undertook meant also spending long hours and weekends in the lab. This is when having a lovely workplace and supportive colleagues can make a huge difference! At the Genome Centre, the emphasis on collaborative research translates into a network of support for DPhil students, and this is particularly important if you get stuck during your studies. The everyday contact with other students, postdocs and labheads in an informal environment allowed me to feel free to exchange ideas and receive constant feedback and advice. If you look for even more stimuli, then weekly seminars provide you with insights into other groups’ research interests, with invited speakers coming from around the UK as well as from abroad. The Genome Centre is also a truly international place, with people literally from all over the world. I moved from Italy to undertake my studies here, and the University of Sussex provided me with all the support needed: as an international student, you can never feel a foreigner here! Of course, all this doesn’t mean you’ll never experience hard times, or a setback in the progress of your studies. But… that’s when the green fields, a vibrant student life and a lively city nearby come to help!"

Zenas George

DPhil in Biochemistry (2007 - till date)


"I came to University of Sussex in September 2006 from Nigeria to study for a Masters degree in ‘Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology’. There were lots of welcome activities during the first week including a chat and coffee with the then Vice-chancellor Professor Alasdair Smith. After the welcome week, academic activities began and the friendly members of faculty made studying fun filled which really helped me settle in quickly.

Before completion of MSc in September 2007, it was not a difficult decision to make to continue in Sussex for my DPhil in Biochemistry.  The ease of making this decision stems from the positive experience I had with my MSc project supervisor who was always there to teach and supervise me. Since starting my DPhil in October 2007, I have benefitted from the strong sense of community among members of faculty, research groups and students. With research facilities located in different research groups in the School of Life Sciences, I have never had to worry about a faulty equipment delaying my research since there are many laboratories close by that I rely on in event of a fault in any of our group’s equipment.

Currently, I am doing research on ‘genetic manipulation of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins for improved toxicity and hope to express these toxins in transgenic plants.

The collaborations between our research group and other research groups round the globe has made it possible for me to visit our collaborating laboratories in China to undertake part of my DPhil research and learn new techniques which is a boost to my academic and research experience. I have also had the opportunity to present my research work at academic conferences, conduct tutorials for undergraduate students and demonstrate in MSc and undergraduate laboratories. I am happy that Sussex has equipped me for a future academic and research career and would confidently recommend Sussex to any prospective students."

Louise Newnham

DPhil Biochemistry (2006-2010)


"Having spent the last three and a half years completing my D.Phil in Biochemistry, I can honestly recommend the Life Sciences department at Sussex as a fantastic place to choose for postgraduate study. Not only is the research of the highest possible standard, the support and opportunities given to postgraduate students in the department is outstanding. I have, for example, had the opportunity to travel and present my work at several international conferences in Japan, America and the South of France. The department also has an excellent publishing record with many groups publishing their findings in the top scientific journals. I, like many of my peers, was lucky enough to get a first-author paper published during my time at Sussex. This means that with a bit of hard work, you are in a great position to get your work published, which really does give you a helping hand when it comes to finding a job on the other side of your studies.
Asides from the work side of things, being very close to Brighton there’s no shortage of festivals, pubs and clubs to take your mind off all the hard work. Sussex University is also situated in the South Downs, which on a nice day makes for a pleasant break from the city.

To summarise, my experience as a PhD student has been a positive one. This is not to say it hasn’t been without it’s bad days. Postgraduate study is extremely hard work wherever you choose to do it. But with the support and opportunities available to Life Science postgraduates at Sussex, I am without doubt that I made the right choice in picking Sussex.I have no inhibition whatsoever in recommending Sussex in general and the School of Life Sciences in particular to any one who feels a responsibility to contribute meaningfully to human knowledge through research. With Sussex, the sky could be just the beginning".

Roz Holmes

DPhil in Biochemistry (2005-2010)

"I had a fantastic time at Sussex doing my DPhil Biochemistry at the Genome Damage & Stability Centre. Sussex is excellently situated – on the edge of a lively, hedonistic, beach-side city, yet at the foot of stunning South Downs countryside. I worked on a very exciting project: the DNA repair pathway I was studying, when impaired, results in a 2000x increased risk of the developing skin cancer. So it was easy to stay enthusiastic. My supervisors allowed me the independence to steer the course of my research, yet with extensive support & provision of resources. The Centre has a very family feel & so when problems need to be solved, there is always an experienced post-doc on-hand willing to sit down & chat things over. Open-minded about where my career would take me, I made the most of the skills training (“Scips”) courses & other opportunities on campus. I attended over 25 such courses e.g. science writing, research ethics, how to use EndNote, time management, intellectual property, German. In my 1st year, I attended a lab-based training course in Copenhagen & a research programme review in Sardinia. In my 2nd year, I attended the Research Councils funded graduate school & I won a prize for my presentation on my project, & in my 3rd year, presented my work at an international conference in California, USA.

I am now enjoying my job as a trainee patent attorney for Procter & Gamble in Darmstadt, Germany (but I still miss doing PCRs)".

Vidisha Krishnan

DPhil in Biochemistry (2007 - till date)


"Restarting my career would have never been easy, had I not joined Sussex. After my undergraduate degree from one of the premier institutions in India   Miranda House, University Of Delhi, I was awarded scholarship from Department of Biotechnology for my postgraduate studies at Goa after which I took time off for my lovely kids. I always wanted to get back to science but I had no inkling that Sussex would provide me with such immense support .Though I was aware of the strong infrastructure and distinguished faculty here at the University.

I started with my masters here. I worked in Dr. Neil Crickmore’s lab for my project. Neil ensures that his students understand the research conceptually. He gets the best out of his students. I was extended every aid and encouragement and given flexibility to work in the lab. It was a truly global experience. The environment was very welcoming and I could integrate into it very easily.

 Needless to mention under Neil’s outstanding tutelage, I further decided to continue my doctoral studies in the same lab. Science requires a very high level of commitment, perseverance, willingness to experiment and above all to challenge one’s own self continuously. I have worked and gained competence in a wide range of Microbiological, Biochemical, Molecular Biological and cellular Biological techniques and bit of Entomology!! My research experiences inculcated in me patience and persistence. It made me more independent and matured.

I got a chance to collaborate with other faculty for my tissue culture work. I am thankful to Lynne for her help so cheerfully and promptly rendered. I have approached Michelle West for my further work and I have found her very amiable. I did get loads of opportunities to undertake tutoring here and all these experiences have made me more confident.

I would run out of space if I enlist the paraphernalia at the department as the University is equipped with all the resources required for the research. Not to forget the weather, the Beach, the Natural surroundings all add up to the experience. To sum-up I had   and in fact having a very enriching experience here at Sussex which is hard to find elsewhere".

Youssra Al-Hilaly

DPhil in Biochemistry (2010 - till date)

The high standard research faculty, brilliant supervision, cultural variety, friendly atmosphere, and beautiful nature, all of these reasons and others encouraged me to do my DPhil at the University of Sussex.

I came from Iraq in July 2009. When I arrived with my family the University provided me with all I needed as an international student. There were lots of welcome activities and facilities available including accommodation, heath care centre, and IT services.

Youssra biochem

My research project focuses on biochemical, structural and chemical analysis of amyloidogenic peptides. As a part of my project I started work in the organic chemistry lab in order to synthesis dityrosine as a standard. In turn, that gave me a very good opportunity to learn new skills and techniques such as flash chromatography and how to deal with very air and moisture sensitive compounds. I have received my training in many analytical techniques including HPLC, NMR, mass spectrometry, and fluorescence spectroscopy and that was quite enjoyable. In order to do structural studies of amyloid fibrils I received training to use the X-ray diffraction, Circular dichroism spectroscopy, and Transmission electron microscopy in the Sussex centre for advanced microscopy, which was a really new experience. 

I have received immense support from my supervisors who have always advised me through group and individual meetings. My colleagues are supportive and help me as much as they can. The weekly seminars in chemistry department as well as biochemistry department gave me further insight in broader research within Life Sciences.

The IT services, Library, and Doctoral School workshops offer a lot of transferable skills courses. So far I have attended introduction to SPSS, how to use endnote, excel analysis data, literature searching using web of knowledge and Scopus, effective literature searching, poster design, becoming an effective researcher course, and time management. I have had such a great experience as an international and postgraduate student in University of Sussex and I highly recommend it for all of those who want to gain high level of knowledge, scientific skills, and career development.  


Muruj Barri

DPhil in Biochemistry (2011 - till)

My decision to study DPhil at Sussex University stems from a combination of several factors ranging from having a lovely atmosphere, offering very good library resources, the role of staff, to having various laboratory facilities that serve the needs of researchers. My passion to study DPhil started when I studied MSc in genetic manipulation and molecular cell biology.  This course was useful to enhance my knowledge in genetics. The library recourses are great. You can find everything that meets your needs in Sussex library. I have never had a problem reaching my needs in printing, photocopying and borrowing books.  You can access many scientific journals, and study with your group in a room provided with some tools to assist the students learning in a group. The staff played an important role in encouraging me to continue my science journey. The MSc course convenor had a role in directing me to choose courses to build up my experience in genetics. I had my MSc project with a supervisor who sensed my passion for learning genetics and enthused me throughout my MSc research project.    Muruj

A few months before finishing my Masters degree, I decided to grab the opportunity to study DPhil in such a good university. Soon, I decided to choose my research field about motor neuron degeneration diseases at molecular level of genetics. Now, I am investigating the role of TDP-43, RNA-binding protein, in RNA metabolism and how aberrant RNA processing is involved in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). 

 I strongly advise  everyone not to miss the opportunity to study at Sussex University. From my point of view, I have found that Sussex University is the best place to study abroad.