School of Physics and Astronomy

Search site

Julia Gala De Pablo

Biophysics, Molecular and Nanoscale Physics Group

Which year of PhD are you currently completing?

I am starting year 2 of my PhD.

What is your research project about?

In my project I am trying to develop a diagnostic platform using microfluidics and Raman spectroscopy. This allows manipulating very small volumes of liquids that will contain cells from the patients sample and obtaining chemical information from those cells. The idea is to be able to analyse a sample from a patient and identify the presence of diseases such as cancer.

What makes you passionate about what you are studying?

I really enjoy pushing myself every day and learning new things while solving new problems. This project also has a multidisciplinary approach, so I can work in the interface between biology and physics.

Why did you decide to do a research degree?


I enjoy research and this is what I want to do for a living.

Why Leeds?

I had a great experience here as an Erasmus student and got the chance to do a Summer Project with my current supervisor. I enjoyed the science and the working environment.

How would you describe an average day in the life of a Leeds research student?

Science can be a bit frustrating sometimes. Planning the experiments ahead is essential. We try to do lab in the morning or during the whole day (9-5) and then do analysis in the breaks between experiments or in the afternoon. Having a day of the week for reading some literature is also useful. A lot of PhD students work in the same office which makes it a good place to discuss your science with someone with a different background. Also there is always time for a tea break.

What do you like best about the School?


It is full of great people.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your PhD?


Science doesn’t always work the first time you try it. When you are designing experiments, a small thing can mean nothing works. Patience and perseverance are essential to survive a PhD.

What has been the hardest thing about living abroad?


Missing home sometimes, and not being able to go there as often as you would like to.

What have you particularly missed back home?

Family and friends mostly.

What are the main skills which you have developed?

In general I think you just become better at learning new things really quickly. I have also learnt to work as part of a team and how important collaboration is in multidisciplinary science. You learn to think out of the box and be more critic with what other people publish.

What have you enjoyed most about your PhD?

The chance to work with the equipment they have here is great. But mostly what I have enjoyed the most about my PhD is the people that work with you and you become very good friends.

What would you say to other international research students thinking of coming to Leeds University to study for a PhD?

Leeds is a great place to do a PhD as an international student. This city is full of students from everywhere all around the world. I’ve always felt that the University of Leeds takes very good care of their international students. You will find lots of meetings, clubs and societies, some of them specific for international students. Leeds has exactly the right size, with plenty of different places to explore. Rent won’t be too expensive and you won’t have to share a room like in London... In Leeds there is always something going on: concerts, activities, sporting matches… Leeds at night is also very active, and you will find plenty of opportunities to party.