Biology Personal Statement
Submitted by Chalia
I have always been fascinated by the natural world and relish using systematic experimental techniques to solve problems. On a recent summer school microbiology session, I was given the task of deducing how a specimen had died. We were presented with a number of symptoms and diagnoses and, using a range of biochemical tests (for example, an oxidase test) we narrowed down the possibilities until one became obvious as the cause of death. I found the whole process intellectually fulfilling and was motivated to pursue a career in this field, so that I can apply my natural curiosity and investigative skills on a daily basis.
I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to use these skills during work experience at a veterinary practice where I observed x-rays, ultrasounds of a heart, consultations, dental operations and an emergency RTA procedure. I was also shown how to conduct a basic examination of a dog using palpation and checking the animal’s heart and respiration rate. Again, I was using analytical methods which are necessary for any biological investigation.
My A-level choices reflect my passion for this area and I have thoroughly enjoyed increasing my knowledge base but also acquiring new experimental skills, as the practical and analytical side of Biology and Chemistry are what enthuse me the most. In addition, my psychology course has given me the ability to analyse findings and evaluate the efficacy of procedures. I have been inspired by my teachers and other scientists I have encountered, to engage in further reading such as The Double Helix, which examines the discovery of the structure of DNA, and Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology which discusses how theories such as quantum tunnelling and superposition can be used to explain how a robin can migrate using magnetoreception.
I have worked at Boots for two years, where I have found helping out in the pharmacy the most compelling part of my role. I enjoy applying the knowledge learnt in my Chemistry lessons to identify the underlying ingredients in the prescriptions and am fascinated by the variety of different drugs that can be made with only minor changes in a formula. My organisation skills have also benefitted from having this job, and I find that I am now more organised with my academic work and better able to prioritise potentially conflicting obligations. I have also volunteered at a PDSA charity shop and at the RSPCA, walking, feeding, grooming and cleaning the animals. Both of these have developed my interpersonal skills and given me a wider appreciation of the skills required for any workplace and have also provided me a whole new sense of responsibility and empathy. At the RSPCA I found I started to learn to read the signs of stress or anger in the animals and was able to adapt to calm them, which is a practical application of what I have learnt in my psychology course about conditioning.
I was also fortunate to be given a placement for 15 weeks at Brighton Sea life Centre. Of all of my work experience this was the one where I was given the most responsibility and which I therefore enjoyed the most. I tested the temperature, salinity and pH of every tank, fed the animals during talks, and cleaned the majority of the habitats. My time management skills were developed as I had to make sure every job was done quickly and efficiently.
The realisation that I want to enter the veterinary science field or that of the underlying research was then cemented when I attended two university summer schools. I was on the veterinary strand for both and whilst I found sessions on dissecting horse legs and looking at the debate of animal rights in research fascinating, I found myself drawn to others such as pathology and biochemistry. In the end it is practical processes that are then used to deduce findings that I find most compelling and I am keen to develop my experience, skills and knowledge in my journey to gaining a career in science.