April 30, 2020, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Giving Back to Society

This week Ramon P. Maluping, a PhD student on the Graduate School managed BBSRC DTP programme, reports on his 3-month Professional Internship (PIPS).

Ramon at FAO-UN

Ramon at FAO-UN

I already had a stable career in veterinary microbiology and diagnostics when I decided to go back to university, so it was a decision that I took very seriously.  My goals in pursuing a PhD were not only to gain expertise in my chosen research topic, but to develop a well-rounded set of skills that I can apply to a wide range of opportunities.  It was primarily the inclusion of the PIPS internship in the BBSRC DTP PhD program that attracted me and made up my mind to apply.

Choosing where and what to do for my internship was a daunting task.  Growing up with a poor background, I needed to work hard to overcome significant life challenges.  One of my objectives for my internship was therefore to learn how my academic research could be utilised for policy-making.  DTP and Graduate School staff helped me set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) for my internship which enabled me to identify the work I wanted to do, and the right type of host organisation.

As a veterinary microbiologist, I am interested in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) because it is considered one of the greatest threats to mankind and has a significant impact in poorer countries.  Therefore, I decided to do my internship at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations – Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO-RAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ramon and colleagues

Ramon and colleagues

At FAO, I had the privilege to work with Dr. Katinka de Balogh, Senior Animal Production and Health Officer of the FAO-RAP and with the AMR team headed by Dr. Joy Gordoncillo.  I was mainly involved in two AMR projects: mitigating the effects of antimicrobial resistance through creating awareness of the threat of AMR in the Asia Pacific region; enhancing surveillance on AMR and antimicrobial use (AMU) as well as providing policy guidance and good practices in line with FAO AMR action plan.  I had independence and flexibility on what skills-sets that I wanted to develop and share with the team; such as on AMR, AMU, risk communications, and good practices.  I also gained an excellent overview of the day to day work of the organization, how meetings are being conducted, and I had the opportunity to work with other international collaborators and country officers in the Asia Pacific Region.

During my internship, I was involved in many projects, such as the formulation of surveillance guidelines and writing a background paper on alternatives to antibiotics utilising my PhD research knowledge.  I was also able to attend conferences, webinars and transferable skills workshops on creative and critical thinking, and resilience building.

My internship at FAO-RAP exceeded all my expectations.  It helped me to build a network that will be useful for my future career, make friendships, allowed me to explore the country, and I developed new sets of skills outside of the laboratory. Most importantly though, the internship enriched my perspectives on the type of work that I want to do upon the completion of my PhD; and cemented a desire to give back to society and help to improve the lives of others.

I would like to thank the BBSRC DTP and Graduate School teams for guidance, financial support and my pre-internship orientation.  I would also like to thank everyone at the FAO-RAP AMR team, headed by Dr. Joy Gordoncillo.  Finally, I am very grateful and indebted to Dr. Katinka de Balogh, my supervisor at FAO for making my internship a very productive one and for all the opportunities for personal and professional development.

If you are a postgraduate researcher interested in doing a postgraduate placement or professional internship please contact our team for more information: ppnenquiries@nottingham.ac.uk or find us on LinkedIn.

Posted in Placements