Student profile: Qilong Wu
Qilong Wu is an alumnus of the joint programme between Queen Mary and Nanchang University in China. Having graduated with a joint degree in Biomedical Sciences/Clinical Biomedicine, Qilong is now undertaking a PhD with us in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. We caught up with him to find out more about his experience, and how this influenced his decision to join us in Mile End for his postgraduate study.
What first attracted you to study on the joint programme with Queen Mary and Nanchang University?
The prospect of experiencing both British and Chinese higher education while fulfilling my dreams of receiving medical and biomedical training really appealed to me. And, of course, the potential opportunities to study and conduct research abroad.
How did the combination of Chinese and British approaches to higher education and teaching benefit you during your programme?
The joint programme has definitely taught me things that I wouldn’t have learnt in other regular programmes: my English language skills, the confidence and ability I now show in conducting laboratory work, and more. Most importantly, it created such a supportive environment in that every student is encouraged to think about where his or her interest lies. I wouldn’t have had a single clue about what I was going to do if it wasn’t for this programme.
As part of the programme, students have the opportunity to come to study at Queen Mary between their second and third years – did you visit Queen Mary at this time?
Yes, I was here three years ago just after finishing my second year in Nanchang. It was great fun for all of us actually. We had language courses where we learnt academic writing skills, which helped us a lot for our third-year thesis. We had a good look around the city and the museums, met lots of people and tried lots of food (a mixed experience!). I loved it here, and that is why I chose to come here for my postgraduate studies.
Were you involved with any projects or do you have any particular work that you are proud of during your programme?
I particularly liked the undergraduate research project ‘talk day’, which is an activity organised by the School to give students an opportunity to present their research project to a group of experts. It was great practice for us to get an idea of how to present our work to others and be challenged with questions, especially for those of us who had an interest in research.
You are now undertaking a PhD with us in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary – tell us how this opportunity came about for you
My PhD project is about investigating possible regulatory mechanisms for a particular protein complex called Linear Ubiquitin chain Assembly Complex (LUBAC), which has been shown to play an important role in controlling inflammation. I use techniques combining in vitro cell culture, protein expression and purification, and X-ray crystallography. I hope to answer my research question by providing biochemical and structural evidence of LUBAC activity regulation. My current supervisor is actually one of my lecturers from my time in Nanchang, so it was more of a result of me taking advantage of this programme than an opportunity. I have known him for years (and we didn’t dislike each other!), so I secured funding from the China Scholarship Council and here I am back at Queen Mary!
How did your experience on the joint programme with Nanchang influence your decision to undertake your PhD at Queen Mary?
The influence is all positive: caring and helpful lecturers; fascinating, cutting-edge research; thought-provoking discussions… what’s not to like? Apart from my experience on the programme, the fact that Queen Mary has a long-standing relationship with the China Scholarship Council was encouraging. At least, it has proved to be quite helpful when it comes to my funding.
What would you say to someone thinking of coming to Queen Mary for postgraduate study after graduating from one of our joint programmes?
From my perspective, the joint programme has provided me with all-round training for pursuing my PhD in terms of language ability, critical thinking, self-management, basic scientific research skills, and most importantly an undying enthusiasm for science! My advice for my fellow students, especially for those who may want to take a similar path to me, would be to take advantage of every bit of resource, help and opportunity you have on the joint programme, and be provisional about what career you want to take so you don’t get lost on the way.