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Brazilian student pursues passion for genetics at DMU

A Brazilian student enjoyed her time at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) as part of a study-abroad scheme so much she has returned for her master's.

Ayanda Dantas wants to improve people's lives and feels the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology MSc will enable her to do this.

Ayanda main 1

She is enjoying being back on campus, having first visited Leicester in 2014 as part of her undergraduate pharmacy degree.

Ayanda said: "I wanted to experience academic life in another country. I was seeking something to enhance my knowledge and there is more equipment and more materials here than at my home university.

"I did a year of Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science and it was a wonderful experience. I made lots of friends of all nationalities."

Brazil's now-defunct study-abroad scheme, Science without Borders, made the move possible, opening up valuable opportunities.

"I had the chance to collaborate with Dr Ketan Ruparelia, researching the antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of synthetic products that could be used for cancer therapy," she said.

With Portuguese her first language, Ayanda needed help to achieve the required IELTS score, so boosted her skills on a pre-sessional course at DMU's Centre for English Language Learning.

Returning to Itumbiara, Ayanda completed her five-year degree course and landed a job in a lab. However, she was keen to continue her academic endeavours and the Diversity and Inclusion in Science master's degree programme, launched by the British Council, enabled her to do this.

The scheme is aimed at increasing the participation of under-represented groups in science, giving participants a foundation to launch their careers in higher education and research in Brazil.

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Ayanda said: "It was a wonderful coincidence that DMU was one of the universities participating in the programme, and an even greater coincidence that DMU had the course I wanted to study.

"The genetics element intrigues me because you can improve people's lives."

Ayanda has settled back into university life. She said: "The best thing about DMU is the support from lecturers and fellow students. It's really wonderful.

"DMU Replay is fab as we can access lectures again."

She is also happy being based in Leicester. "It's a wonderful city in the middle of England and close to everywhere," said Ayanda.

"As a student you want to save money and that's easy here.

"Campus is close to the city centre, you can get fresh fruit and veg from the market and my nearest Tesco has a Brazilian food section."

After completing her master's, Ayanda will return to Brazil to present her project, with the longer-term ambition of teaching at university and helping with research into Zika and other viruses.

She added: "The course is relatively new in my city and we're still lacking materials, but I want to show people you have to look for opportunities.

"I'm the first one from my campus to study abroad."

Posted on Thursday 30th November 2017

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