Mahdia, a second-year biochemistry student, shares what a typical study day in rain-soaked London looks like for her.
11:00 After having a well-deserved lie-in (I had 9ams all this week!), I got started on some research for a podcast project. For this project, a friend and I are working on an exposé-style podcast on the differences between high-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss, and their potential long-term effects on health.
~11:40 Took a little break. Mindlessly scrolled through Instagram and grabbed a cup of green tea.
11:45 Started reading through a friend's dissertation on hydrogel application in biomedical situations to provide feedback. Three pages in - twelve to go!
The afternoon slot
Went back to research for my podcast project. This time around, I was looking specifically for the mechanisms behind low-fat diets - i.e. the biochemical reason why this diet may lead to weight loss. I began by looking on YouTube for videos and potential sources. YouTube videos are a great way for me to gain a concise overview of the science and literature behind a lot of topics, so it felt natural to start there. I then searched for specific issues with more niche terms in Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed studies and reports.
Lunch time. I watched a few Dragon's Den clips on YouTube while eating, and listened to The Real Reel podcast whilst I was getting ready to head to uni.
Caught up with my academic advisor and collected the marked lab report that I submitted earlier this semester. Spoke briefly to my advisor about how second year has been going so far, and then went over the feedback on my lab report with a friend. We focused on our data presentation skills, noticing that we made similar mistakes plotting our data, and discussed how to make sure we don't make this mistake again.
Lab time! Today's lab was concerned with the activity of alkaline phosphatase - an enzyme found in the blood that helps break down other proteins. It was one of those labs where a lot of things went wrong - we started off using the incorrect equipment, and then the wrong measurements, getting completely incorrect results. Luckily, we were able to re-do these practicals to get the right results. I'm glad this happened now, as I learned how small variations in method and measurement can have large impacts on data, and it also gave me a bit more information on the optimal performance of this enzyme. For the next lab, I'll make sure to read the full method before starting the experiment, so I know what reagents are present and their associated measurements.
17:30 Got home from my lab. Spent a couple of hours catching up on some lectures which covered the mobility of membranes and gave an overview of how the variations in composition affect the fluidity and evenness of the membrane. I watched a recording of the lecture (needed some good headphones for this!) while consulting the recommended textbook.
19:00 Did some pre-reading for tomorrow's lectures on the energetics behind aerobic respiration. My professor uploads the slides and relevant textbook chapters a few days before the lecture, so I go through the slides to get the gist of the topic and consult textbook chapters for explanations on diagrams included in the slides.
19:45 Put some dinner - a pasta meal made from scratch to destress - on the stove and spent some time with my sister. We stuffed our faces whilst watching Love Island (don't judge - we all need some stress-free TV!): the perfect end to a busy day. On other evenings, you might find me writing some blog posts, editing images and videos for my Instagram or frantically searching for a part-time job to fund my much-needed holiday.
My days vary a lot, but I hope this gave you a good insight into what a biochemistry student's day may look like.