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Graduates in Focus 2023

iew our Graduates in Focus 2022 | View our Graduates in Focus 2021


Tom Hill
MSc Pathogen Evolution

 Olivia Green
MSc Mining Environmental

Elvina Smith
MSc Pathogen Evolution

Syed Shah Hamid Hussain
MSc Renewable Energy


Tom Hill

MSc student studying Pathgen Evolution, University of Exeter (current)
Find out about the MSc programme in Pathogen Evolution

I’ve always been very animal focused in my studies.  I did a BTEC in Animal Management and completed my BSc in Zoology here in Penryn last year. During my undergraduate degree I developed an interest in animal diseases and I felt the Pathogen Evolution MSc would help me specialise in disease science and broaden my interest into microbiology and the human side of disease.  Covid-19 was quite a big inspiration for the course as disease feels very relevant at the moment.

I chose to stay in Penryn as the Master’s is only a year and I have already made connections here. I knew a lot of the supervisors before starting the course and some of the people I graduated with last year have come up too. I find the smaller cohort easier for doing things like presentations.

I chose the Pathogen Evolution MSc because it is so broad, I like the range of topics that we cover and both the subject specific and transferable skills I am developing.  The course is structured so we have a new lecturer every two or three weeks who shares their specialism with us. This will involve two or three in person lectures, discussion sessions, online lectures and then a practical to demonstrate the learning for instance disease modelling or looking at genetic sequences.

I chose a lot of disease modules on my undergraduate course so although I found the topics quite tough to begin with, I was quite well equipped for my transition from degree to Masters’ and think it went well. Our lecturers are very supportive and welcome feedback.

The most challenging aspect for me is the literature. I am used to reading biology, ecology and zoology papers but now there is a lot of new terminology to learn especially from the medical and disease science literature.

One of my main interests is the one health approach. How humans, animals and the environment work together to create an integrated response to disease. That’s the area of study I am really excited about and looking forward to exploring further.

I chose Penryn as a place to study as it was somewhere that wasn’t in a city and was a bit quieter, I like being near the sea and it was great to study a course relating to nature in a green setting.  I prefer being on a smaller campus, living in the community and knowing everyone.

I’m president of the tap-dancing society, I’m currently teaching and choreographing one of the lessons for a competition in March. I’m also part of the ballet, jazz and contemporary society and cheerleading society.  It keeps me busy, and I find it a lot of fun. I really recommend getting involved in societies.

My tutor has given me a lot of career support around next steps. There are roles you can go into with my background, for instance microbiologist, but I would prefer to apply for a PhD looking at One Health from an animal perspective.

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Olivia Green

MSc student studying Mining Environmental Management, University of Exeter (current)
Find out about the MSc programme in Mining Environmental Management

I am one of three people on the Mining Environmental Management MSc who studied Politics and International Relations as an undergrad here in Penryn.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as an undergraduate and then in my third year we did a module with Deborah McFarlane called ‘The Resource Paradox. Blessing or Curse?’

Essentially it was about the politics of mining and how having an abundance of natural resources can cause conflict nationally and internationally.

I really enjoyed it, did really well, and became an intern for Deborah on her ‘People and Mining’ group which focused on the social aspect of the mining industry - which is what I’m interested in.

If I am to pursue a career in mining, I need to learn more about the industry. On the Mining Environmental Management MSc, I am learning to get all the terms right and understand topics like remediation, mapping software, and environmental, social and, governance (ESG).

The first term was very difficult, but I’m really happy that I did it.  The work is very different, as I have moved from social sciences to subjects like chemistry. The challenge is the different style of work and using software which I haven’t needed to do before. We have much more contact time with more seminars and lectures than I’m used to - it means it’s easy to get answers to questions. The lecturers give us a lot of support and there are lot of extra things you can do like socials and annual diners.

Being part of Camborne School of Mines (CSM) is great fun. CSM is its own community within the University, everyone’s very down to earth and I really feel at home here. I’ve been trying to get involved in as much as possible to balance out the hard work.

I’ve taken part in training for the International Mining Games, part of The Camborne School of Mines Society, which is a competition involving events based on traditional mining techniques like Mucking - shovelling broken rock into a cart and running it down a track.

I’m also going to Belgium as part of International Student Week and try to get to as many Pint and Pasty nights as I can too. CSM invite companies in the mining industry to give a talk and then there is the chance to network afterwards. Opportunities for networking are really encouraged and exposure to industry experts has been amazing. We also got to go to the Mines and Money Conference in London for free too.

One of the reasons I chose the Mining Environmental Management MSc is because half of the course is a research project, which I can tailor to my interests.

My research project involves an internship at the International Finance Corporation which is a branch of the World Bank. I have a meeting with them every couple of weeks and am flying out to Washington in April to do some interviews.

I am going to do a cost benefit analysis for them on mine waste tailings that will encourage companies to invest in dewatering technologies to make mine waste solid in order to reduce the risk of spills from liquid slurry stores. The report will be shared with Chief Financial Officers in the mining industry and argue the environmental and social reasons for investing in this technology.

We’re not going to feed the energy transition or meet net zero if we don’t have mining. That aspect is something I’m really interested in. I want to contribute to building wind turbines and electric cars and sustainable mining of the materials, like copper, that are needed for them.

I’d like to work for an international body to do environment and social advisory work at different mine sites.  This course makes me feel confident that I will find a job I will enjoy.

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Elvina Smith

MSc student studying Pathgen Evolution, University of Exeter (current)
Find out about the MSc programme in Pathogen Evolution

My degree programme is the MSc in Pathogen Evolution. What initially attracted me to the programme is the fact that it tackles antimicrobial resistance which is a massive problem. We need to be considering evolution and ecology in managing disease and pathogens; antimicrobial resistance is often neglected. The course itself is so timely.

I wanted a career in science right from the start, biology specifically. I've always had an interest in the medical side of things, including learning about pathogens in zoology and veterinary medicine. I grew up in Devon and used to work as a keeper at a local zoo. I chose to study Zoology at Exeter’s Penryn campus for my undergraduate degree which opened things up in terms of subjects and has since allowed me to specialise in microbiology and human disease. After my undergraduate degree I had a year out where I volunteered at the zoo again. Then I came back down to Cornwall for the MSc.

The structure of the MSc programme is great. Our first module was called Advanced Topics in Pathogen Evolution. It was a really good introduction to the course. The kind of opportunities the programme gives you is just incredible. We’re also learning complicated statistics that are used in modern science and have been given a really good grounding in academic writing. We’re getting to the point where we’re learning to write publishable papers. To be able to get these skills is really cool.

The research that's coming out of the ESI is phenomenal. This bringing together of evolutionary principles, ecology and microbiology and biochemistry is cutting edge. These different, crucial concepts are being brought together in new research. Because of this, Penryn campus is perfect for a course like Pathogen Evolution.

I chose this MSc because of the programme as well as the location. Cornwall has the most incredible scenery, beaches and wildlife. It’s perfect for zoology because you've got these amazing natural landscapes. It's so nice to be part of a community that recognises and protects the beauty of the natural surroundings. For me, the best bit about choosing this programme is the fact that you’re in this beautiful place with the most amazing atmosphere - all the beaches, all the fun - but at the same time there’s cutting edge research going on. 

At the moment I'm applying to a PhD here on the Penryn campus.

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Syed Shah Hamid Hussain

MSc student studying Renewable Energy Engineering, University of Exeter (current)
Find out about the MSc Renewable Energy Engineering

I did my undergrad in electrical engineering at Maharshi Dayanand University in India back in 2009. From 2009 to 2022 I worked in industry. To start with I worked for Fichtner Consulting Engineers as an Electrical Design Engineer. Then I worked with IL&FS Energy, a project management consultancy in the area of conventional energy and energy efficiency. I knew I wanted to move into renewables. Then Covid happened and I had a lot of time to think. That's when I decided I should do something different.

I was looking at a lot of British universities but I saw that Exeter offered the best modules in Renewable Energy Engineering which made me choose this university. The modules are designed really well. I particularly love the solar module and the low carbon vehicle module. The course is also designed well and the support from academics and lab technicians has been really good. It’s a one-year course so it’s packed full of assignments.

There have been a lot of pint and pasty sessions with a number of companies to help us network. It’s the best way to find a job because you interact on a personal level and can then send companies your CV. Companies travel to the campus from across the UK because they want to hire students from here. This is how I got a job with Photon Energy who are based out of Reading. For now, I want to work in the UK in order to understand how the industry operates as well as the market. Then I hope to start something of my own in India. That’s my ultimate goal.

Cornwall is beautiful. I come from New Delhi and it's so crowded and polluted. Coming from the city to a place like Falmouth where I now live is great. Falmouth is very quaint. Delhi is landlocked so it’s good to be by the sea. Leaving my mother behind in India and finding somewhere to live was hard at the start but then I found somewhere in Falmouth for my wife and me. On the other hand, being an international student here has been really good in terms of meeting people and making friends. The campus is really diverse and the university believes in inclusivity. It has all been so good. I’ve never been made to feel like I am from somewhere else. 

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