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Record Graduation for Life Sciences

12 Jul 2012

A record number of students with a First or an Upper Second will graduate from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester this Friday.

Chris Crookes swimming with Sharks
Chris Crookes swimming with Sharks

586 students will graduate with 29% attaining a first class honours degree, and 56% an upper second class honours degree.  These are the best results ever recorded for the Faculty of Life Sciences and put it among the top in the country.

The Dean of the Faculty, Professor Martin Humprhies, said: “The world class research facilities that we provide along with our high calibre of dedicated and committed teaching staff have ensured that students get the best education possible at the Faculty of Life Sciences here at The University of Manchester. I’m really proud of all our graduates who have worked so hard throughout their degree. The results are a testimony to their commitment and enthusiasm for Life Sciences.”

The students came from around the country as well as the world to study subjects ranging from Zoology to Neuroscience, Optometry to Anatomical Sciences. Many of them spent a year working in industry or on field placements across the globe.

Despite science being traditionally seen as more of a male subject more than half the graduates this year are female (336 women compared to 250 men).

Becky Cliffe obtained a first class honours degree in Zoology. Becky spent a year in Costa Rica working at a Sloth sanctuary, studying the creatures in depth. Her pioneering work saw her featured in a documentary which aired on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. She’s set to return to the sanctuary later this year to work on her PhD.

Becky says: “I’ve had the best four years of my life at the University of Manchester. My placement year was an amazing experience working so closely with the sloths which are truly the world’s most incredible animals. One of the many highlights was assisting with the birth of the world’s first recorded sloth twins.”

Chris Crooks also achieved a first in Zoology. He spent a year studying sharks at the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas. Chris will in fact miss the graduation ceremony as he’ll already have taken up his post as the Assistant Manager at the research station.

Chris says: “I think the field research, in terms of trips abroad, as well as the placement year really cemented my interest in the subject. The practical aspects of researching, planning, carrying out and writing up a project that was of real interest to me gave me purpose for my time at the university. It gave me the aim and drive in terms of my academic studies and also made me realise the possibilities and opportunities that are available to me.”

Closer to home Joe Hanley from Stockport came top in Development Biology with Industrial/Professional Experience, obtaining a first class Honours degree. Joe is severely partially sighted but was able to carry out complex laboratory work and look at microscopic images thanks to support from the university.

Joe said: “I found everyone at the university really supportive. I never felt that being partially sighted got in the way of my degree work despite the high level of practical lab work. I really enjoyed the year that I spent working at the University of Nevada Medical School in Nevada in the United States which set me up for my final year and helped me to achieve a first class honours degree.”

Jessica Lee has been awarded an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for obtaining the highest overall mark in the whole Faculty. She will graduate with a first class honours degree in Cell Biology with Industrial/Professional Experience.  Jessica spent a year working for the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca at a laboratory in Cheshire.

Jessica said: “I was amazed to come top of the Faculty. I really enjoyed my placement at AstraZeneca as the staff were very supportive and I learned a great deal. The skills that I picked up during my time there proved useful in my final year and spurred me on to getting a first.”

The vital work of the Student Support Office is highlighted in the experience of Nathan Tyson. Nathan overcame severe depression during his first and second years to achieve a first class honours degree in Anatomical Sciences. He’s due to start a fast track Medical Degree at the University of Swansea in August and is currently working on his own project at Wythenshawe Hospital.

Nathan said: “The Student Support Office were incredibly helpful to me. They ensured I knew where to go for counselling services and the academic staff rearranged exams for me. It’s a testimony to the support of the university staff and my friends that I managed to achieve a first class degree.”
The Graduation Ceremony for the Faculty of Life Sciences starts at 10am on Friday 13th July in the Whitworth Hall at the University of Manchester.