Alex Dye, BSc (Hons) Biology
What are you doing now?
I have recently finished studying my MSc in Entomology at Harper Adams University, and am preparing to begin a full-time job working as a Field Entomologist at Rothamsted Research, one of the UK’s leading centres for insect, crop and pest research.
What were the main reasons you took the course?
I had always wanted to study a science based degree at University, and was torn between Psychology and Biology, due to initially wanting to go into neuroscience or a similar discipline.
Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?
I had visited the university a couple of times, once for a higher education fair in 2012 in which I found myself really enjoying the facilities and the site, and once again for one of the open days later the same year. At the open day, Professor Karim Vahed gave a short demonstrative workshop on reproductive competition in crickets. This, amongst other things including the site and the other staff members, caused me to set my heart on Derby University and began my foray into entomology.
What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?
Whilst studying my degree, I tried to keep my disciplines as broad as possible, not coming to a decision on my career until the latter half of my second year. This allowed me to study modules on human disease, ecology, genetics, and animal behaviour, giving me a wide breadth of knowledge. Once I had focused myself towards entomology, lecturers such as Dr. Andrew Ramsey, Dr. Andy Chick, Prof. Karim Vahed, Debbie Alston, Dr. Kate Barnes and Dr. Ian Turner were very helpful and positive regarding my studies and efforts. Through contacts at the university I was able to meet various people in the real world of entomology, including curators from Oxford Natural History Museum, Derby Museum and Edinburgh Museum. This began to give me a large network of people to talk to who would be able to help me with both my studies and the beginnings of my career, also allowing me to create something of a name for myself within the British entomological community. Thanks to PhD students such as Dave Gee and Iain McGonigal, I was able to study amongst likeminded, helpful and friendly people.
How did the lecturers inspire you?
Many of the lecturers inspired me to focus pieces of work towards my own subject area when applicable, with modules in animal behaviour, science communication and ecosystems giving students the chance to create their own experiments (in which I was able to study the oviposition of blowflies), or write essays and reports on a chosen subject area. Some lecturers were very vocal and active in getting me involved with volunteering, including assisting with guided walks of nature reserves, getting involved with societies and other activities. Other lecturers were very keen to help me with my interests, providing reading materials on entomology or offering field trips to visit museum collections and zoos. Many of the lecturers inspired me to push myself to deliver pieces of work of a higher level than I had previously been capable of achieving, giving me a greater appreciation of the world of scientific research.
How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?
Aside from having completed a degree at the University, which allowed me to carry on to postgraduate study, my time studying taught me a lot about the area of work I’m currently entering into, with many of my modules containing valuable information.
What are your future plans?
The position I am entering into has a contract for three years, after which time I hope to be able to move on to continue working in the field of entomological research. I hope to one day complete a PhD regarding the taxonomy of flies with reference to both genetic and morphological identification.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?
I would highly recommend the course to anyone who may be interested. The University and the course have provided a fantastic start to the careers of myself and many of my peers.
Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?
I am still in touch with several of my lecturers, some of whom are active entomologists, as well as many friends both from the same course as I studied and from other courses across the University. I made many great friends there, both academic and social, and hope to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life.