Darren Parker - College of Life and Natural Sciences - University of Derby

Darren Parker, Biology, 2008

What are you doing now?

After I graduated from the University of Derby, I was lucky to have the opportunity to continue some of my final year project, working as a research assistant to Professor Karim Vahed. This was a great experience and convinced me to pursue a career in academic research. So I decided to expand on my experience in behavioural research by undertaking an MSc in Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis at the University of Edinburgh and then a PhD in Behavioural Genetics at the University of St Andrews.

I’m now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, where I use a variety of sequencing methods to examine the role of alternative splicing in ecological adaptation.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I’ve always been fascinated by insects and evolution, so I decided to take the course to expand my understanding of the natural world and biological science.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

The University of Derby was my first choice university for many reasons. I was attracted to the strong course, the reputation of the lecturers, and the friendly atmosphere.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

The course at Derby is where I first realised that I could turn my love of biology into a career, which obviously had a huge impact on my future plans. The course also helped me realise this ambition by providing the necessary skills to pursue a career in science.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

The lecturers at Derby all have a passion for their subject, often bringing findings from their own research into the lecture theatre. As a result, I got to see first-hand how scientific research develops and progresses. This made a large impact on my decision to go on to further study.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

Professor Vahed was particularly helpful in starting my scientific career. As well as guiding my first forays into research, he helped me write my first publications and encouraged me to be a better scientist.

What are your future plans?

Ideally, my goal is to continue my research in academia and become a lecturer and researcher. I enjoy my work and feel very lucky to have been able to pursue my interests.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

I would say, "Come!" Derby is a great place to study. I have fond memories of my time there, and feel the Biology course provided me with invaluable skills and experiences that allowed me to realise my goal of becoming a researcher.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?

I’m still in regular contact with Professor Vahed, whom I consider a great friend and advisor. We are continuing to collaborate on a number of promising research projects together. 

"The University of Derby was my first choice university for many reasons. I was attracted to the strong course, the reputation of the lecturers, and the friendly atmosphere." Darren Parker