Dr Jordi Paps Montserrat is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences, specialising in the genomic basis of major evolutionary transitions.
Tell us about your journey into academia…
I did my degree in molecular biology in Barcelona and, while I still find subjects like molecular genetics or biochemistry fascinating, the science that totally captivated me was evolutionary biology. After finishing my degree, I did a PhD using molecular genetics to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of the major lineages of the Animal Kingdom. This was followed by a postdoctoral position investigating the closest relatives of animals.
After that I moved to Oxford to keep studying the evolution of animals, but this time using comparative genomics. After five years as a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford, I got a lectureship at the University of Essex, and I moved to Bristol in early 2019. Here I teach genetics, developmental biology, and evolution to undergraduates, and I am the academic lead of the MSc in Bioinformatics.
What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students?
Postgraduate programmes offer a unique chance to complement what you learnt during your undergraduate degree, acquiring new skills that you can apply in scientific research projects. For example, the MSc in Bioinformatics allows students from biosciences backgrounds (biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, medicine…) to tackle research questions usually out of the scope of their degree programmes. Investigate which programme options are available and ask yourself what do you need to learn to pursue your academic or professional interests? And be honest with yourself!
What’s your experience of events at Bristol?
I’m relatively new to Bristol, but I’ve participated in several open days and events for prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students. I’ve also organised and been part of outreach events in Bristol. I enjoy talking to people and sharing my views about science and learning.
Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the events?
I’d like to encourage you to be proactive. Navigate the information you’re being given and set a clear plan for which sessions and meetings you need to attend in advance. Importantly, prepare questions before coming to the event, and ask them!
What kind of things can students ask you?
I’m happy to answer all types of questions related to the postgraduate programme, science, or my research. Most often I get questions about types of research projects we offer (many and very different projects!), previous knowledge about bioinformatics required (none!), and sometimes I get questions about my own research.
Why is it important to attend the events?
Most likely, your choice of postgraduate programme is going to impact your future, both short and long term. It’s important to make an informed decision, get a feeling for the programmes and the people involved, and to clear doubts or misconceptions. Attending these events gives you a great opportunity to get this information and make a wise choice!