My PhD research is multidisciplinary, which I love, but this can be challenging when I require a deeper understanding of a scientific specialism that I have not studied before. The flexible funding is invaluable for attending training opportunities that otherwise may not have been possible and I was lucky enough to secure funding to fly all the way to Argentina to go to ACMI – a specialised training course in mucosal immunology. The course consisted of 5 and a half days of teaching (including lectures on a Saturday morning!) from world leaders in mucosal immunity, some of whom travelled from all over the world to be there from places like USA, Australia, UK and Sweden. I learnt a huge amount about mucosal immunology both related to my research as well as other similar fields which helped me consider the broader context and will make my work more translational in the future.
As well as learning a huge amount about immunology, I also had opportunities to talk with other students and leading researchers from across South America about my work which was invaluable, both for my project and my own doctoral development. It is a rare opportunity to be able to speak with so many leading researchers in one place and I am very grateful for the hardworking course organisers as well as the DiMeN MRC flexible funding award for making it possible.
On a personal note, this was my first solo trip abroad, as well as the first time in South America which made for quite an adventure! I was able to learn about Latin America culture, language and even politics by forming close friendships which would not have been possible without this opportunity. It was certainly an experience to remember!