PhD Researcher Q&A: Day in a life
Here at Quorn Foods, we currently sponsor 13 PhD Researchers all over the country based at world-class Academic Institutions. This is because we believe in conducting leading clinical research projects to advance our current understanding of the chief ingredient common to all Quorn products, Quorn mycoprotein. Since we are the only commercial brand to grow Quorn mycoprotein at scale, we believe we have a responsibility to investigate into the world of this sustainable fungal protein and uncover the beneficial effects it has on our health and wellbeing.
Keep on reading to hear from one of our PhD Researchers, Alistair Monteyne, based at the University of Exeter as he gives us a taster of what it’s like conducting research in collaboration with Quorn Foods, the highs and lows of PhD-life and any tips he has for budding researchers!
Alistair, thank you so much for chatting with us today. As I am sure we can all imagine, life has changed drastically for researchers since COVID-19, but could you explain what a typical day in your life as a PhD researcher looked like pre -global pandemic?
Things tend to vary a lot through the course of a PhD, or it has done for mine at least. During a period of human testing, it would be an early start to set up for experimental testing, then time spent with participants for data collection/sampling to take place. Following that, the rest of the day would be taken up with ongoing writing, analysis, and preparation for testing the next day. The smooth running of a study is very much the priority during these periods.
During periods where I’m not human testing/running a study, it would be an early start in the analytical labs or doing computer-based analysis, followed by writing or more analysis in the afternoon.
Wow! Sounds like you are incredibly busy! Overall, what has your PhD experience been like so far? What’s been the highs and lows?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, I’ve ended up doing a bit of everything skills-wise, which I like. The highs have been the people that I’ve worked with, both colleagues and participants. Presenting in different places has been rewarding too. Any lows have just been from where I’ve overworked myself.
In particular, how have you found working with Industry such as Quorn on research projects?
That’s an aspect I’ve liked; Quorn have been great to work with. Working with industry has made the work more directly impactful, and it’s given me the chance to interact with industry right from the outset of the PhD, providing a different perspective.
In Issue 1 of our Quorn Nutrition newsletter, we did a research spotlight focussing on your recent publication, but for those who have not had the chance to read it yet, briefly what’s your latest research about and what did you find?
My research has considered the effect Quorn mycoprotein found in all Quorn products and non-animal diets have on muscle mass and the response to resistance exercise. We have demonstrated that ingesting Quorn mycoprotein robustly stimulates muscle protein synthesis, thereby demonstrating that Quorn mycoprotein is a high quality protein that is likely to support increases in muscle mass. You can read the full paper here.
Much of the work is still ongoing, so keep checking back here on Quornnutrition.com and our social channels to stay up to date with the latest research!
Thank you Alistair! Before we let you get back to work, do you have any advice to anyone who is thinking about doing a PhD?
Think carefully about exactly what you want to do a PhD in, if you aren’t intellectually curious on your given subject, I’d imagine it could be an arduous process. You get out what you put in, it helps to be stoic, and it’s important to enjoy the day-to-day work as opposed to just waiting for the milestone moments (papers, conferences etc).