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Jose Ricardo
Guest Research Associate
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

When deciding to do this placement, I was interested in two things. The first was to see how I would adapt to a new work environment. Japanese language and culture are quite different from UK or Mexico. Most importantly, I wanted to find out how to make use of my research background in a new area, organic chemistry.

How did you find your placement/internship?

I met Prof. Komatsu at the International Conference on Diamond and Carbon Materials (September 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden). He had a presentation before my own and to my surprise spoke about a very similar topic to my work. I eagerly talked with him about my PhD research and he asked if I was interested in collaborating. This eventually became a short project in which I would visit his laboratory and learn new characterization techniques, while also helping his group with more complex cell culture models to observe compound toxicity.

Main responsibilities

My responsibilities were basically the same as in my everyday work here in Sheffield as a PhD student. I was responsible for carrying out the allotted tasks and give a 45 minute presentation of my work at the end of the placement. The main difference was the time constraint - I had to be very careful with how I managed each experiment. I also did not have access to additional samples or other consumables.

Typical day

A typical day began at 9 30 am, arriving to the lab and checking my schedule. Experiments were carried out until 1 pm, at which time we would have lunch at the cafeteria. Work would continue until 5 or 6 pm. During downtime, I talked with the group members about their work, how life in Japan is and (in the case of the postdocs), how they felt about their jobs.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I enjoyed being able to meet so many new people and to challenge myself as a researcher. Learning so many techniques in a short amount of time was very difficult but rewarding.

Challenging aspects

The language barrier was the most difficult, along with the differences in work ethic and hierarchy.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

Basically every skill from the PhD - from the technical knowledge to the lab-based skills.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Through my experience as a Guest Research Associate, I feel much more confident in my ability to form part of a research team. I had already thought about doing a postdoc, and this made me very curious about how working in Japan would be like.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Get out of your comfort zone and talk to other people. Don't worry about not knowing 100% of what you are going to do - the important thing is to learn and be able to quickly adjust.

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Form completed: 05 Oct 2018

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