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Interviews
Kelvin E Lau How, PHD Student RCSI
Biological, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Science

Kelvin E Lau How, PHD Student RCSI

Kelvin E Lau How is a PHD Student in RCSI. His current study involves the study of RNA editing in the brain. 

Ask me your
first question!

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

I’d probably say myself. I chose this career as a result of my love for the subject and having the passion for patient-based research. Sorry, no cliché idolism going on here!

Describe a typical day?

My day varies from day-to-day. It depends what kind of experiment that I am running on that day itself. Normally I will start doing experiments in the morning, so that I have plenty of time to do write ups or read some journal papers in the afternoon. My experiments involve analysing mouse brain tissue, RNA samples and sometimes we do studies on paediatric brain samples too! Before heading back home, I will plan the experiment for the following day and prepare the necessary chemicals required for that experiment. This is so that my following day will be more organized and I don’t have to worry about rushing and preparing the chemicals in the next morning.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My current study involves the study of RNA editing in the brain; knowledge in molecular biology and neuroscience are required. In this study, I will need to know how to sequence the RNA and at the same time, know how to identify differentially edited RNA in the brain. Therefore, bioinformatics skills are essential

What are the main challenges?

Writing. The idea of making it scientific, concise and understandable at the same time are relatively challenging for me (especially coming from a person whose country is not a native English-speaking country). That’s why I have to read more journals than others so that I can grasp a solid and coherent way to write my paper

What's cool?

My job gives me new things to learn: new techniques to master, new knowledge to know, new challenges to face, and a new horizon of research to explore. Often, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I managed to troubleshoot and solve scientific questions.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

I’d say both my Bachelor and Master’s Degree have prepared me with the essential knowledge to help decipher questions and challenges in my everyday job. My previous working experiences in the hospital shaped me to be more of an organized person and equipped me with laboratory and soft skills that are critically important for the job. 

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes, definitely! Contrary to popular belief, I have great work-life balance at RCSI, mainly because their PhD structural programme allows students to be more independent and flexible with their time. They do organize various exciting activities that you can attend while waiting for your experiment to finish. All in all, good time management is important to keep a balanced lifestyle no matter what job/ career you have in life

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Enjoy the wild ride after you enroll in a course. It is bumpy and challenging, but where is the fun in life if there is no challenge? 

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Having some work experience in a laboratorial setting would be preferable. Disregard whether they are academia or industrial, working in the lab will definitely sharpen your lab skills and organization skills. If your mind is set to pursue a PhD, make use of the internship opportunity during your Bachelor degree (undergraduate) to work in a related-discipline laboratory. This is also your vital chance to get a suitable referee for your PhD application!   

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