Siobhan Hillman, BSc (Hons) Zoology
What are you doing now?
I have recently started a PhD at the University of East Anglia on population genetics and ecology of the mangold fly/sugar beet leaf miners. The PhD is a BBSRC funded NRP DTP iCASE studentship in partnership with the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).
What were the main reasons you took the course?
From my early childhood I had always been interested in studying animals and conserving them. The course at Derby best fitted what I wanted to do and the staff were friendly and welcoming.
Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?
Before I applied I first attended an open day which I found extremely beneficial and all the students and staff present were friendly. There was also an activity prepared by one of the lecturers which was fun and gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to study there. Throughout my application process to different Universities, Derby was also the only university that stayed with me throughout the entire process. They kept in contact with me through email and post, and when I was offered a place they made me feel excited to study there.
What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?
The topics covered throughout my course have allowed me to broaden my knowledge and understanding as a student and have allowed me to develop thoughts, opinions and ideas of current issues in Zoology unbiasedly. This has helped me in my further studies as it has formed a grounded knowledge and skill set beneficial to the area I’m currently working in. Studying the BSc Zoology at Derby also enabled me to access internships and volunteering that I had not thought were accessible to students before. The wider network of the staff at Derby University is excellent and I was able to get involved in many different projects in a number of roles that has helped me develop my own network and skills.
How did the lecturers inspire you?
The lecturers at the University of Derby encouraged and made me want to learn about topics I had previously thought were uninteresting or wouldn’t affect my future career. Topics I thought would not be relevant in my future careers have now taken a lead role in my current interests and research. I used to be scared of insects, now I’m focusing my career on them, and I have recently completed the MSc in Entomology at Harper Adams. The encouragement from the lecturers at Derby also improved my confidence greatly and they often encouraged me to do talks at conferences or engage with the public which is something I would have never done before attending university at Derby.
How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?
My professional development was one of the most obvious changes in myself from my time at Derby. I have changed so much thanks to all of the different things I’ve experienced during my BSc. I feel like the course taught me a lot of things I didn’t know and helped develop my knowledge in areas which are multidisciplinary and applicable to many different types of job roles. Many of the things I learnt during my BSc I can now apply to my PhD and I did apply during my MSc. Outside of my academic development I have developed a lot of interpersonal skills through volunteering and internships which the lecturers at Derby helped me get involved in, as well as many skills that I can also now apply to my current position too.
What are your future plans?
I’d like to continue as an entomologist in the Agricultural sector, using new methods to aid the research on insect pests. After I finish my PhD I’d either like to continue onto a Post-Doc or work within the industry. I’d definitely like to continue research and teach others (either as a lecturer or through science communication) about entomology and the specific area of entomology that I want to work in.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?
During my first year I realised that the experience I was having at University was quite different from some of the other people I knew attending other universities. I think that the enthusiasm from the staff at the University of Derby; the lecturers, the lab technicians and the staff at various internships and volunteering roles I’ve done, all of who supported me through my development, was probably the main factor in how much I enjoyed studying there. I can confidently say that the staff at the University of Derby helped mould me into the person I am today. They supported me when I needed it and they helped improve my confidence in myself enormously. They also encouraged and helped with all of my extra-curricular work and this is what has enabled me to continue in my further education.
Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?
I still talk to some of my lecturers who taught me during my time there and a few of my course mates followed the same Entomological route as me so I still keep in contact with them. I also met some other alumni whilst studying at Derby who I also keep in contact with. All of these people still help support me today!