Having eaten turkey well into the New Year, Rosie Perrett is now starting to think about her dissertation.
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Christmas came and went and, as usual, there was so much food left over that we were eating turkey well into the New Year.
In our house at university, we had our own Christmas ‘day’ the weekend before we broke up for the festive period. For breakfast, we made pancakes; not a typical Christmas breakfast I know, but it did give us a great excuse to have sugar and chocolate to start the day. Despite there being eight of us, we still had far too much food, leaving one bag of brussels sprouts and potatoes untouched. Due to our lack of cooking utensils (namely a carving knife, a plate large enough to accommodate the turkey, and a gravy boat), we opted for chicken breasts with gravy being served in a measuring jug. It's a tough life being a student!
During the last month of term, we had fortnightly topics of animal husbandry, anatomy and physiology. So far, we've covered equine and small animal subjects – both my preferred topics of interest. The animal husbandry fortnights include ‘self-directed reading’ of task scenarios that simulate a case (or clinical scenario) we might see in practice. These cover the breeding cycles of each animal and the associated topics: nutrition, oestrous cycle, natural and artificial insemination, choosing a sire, gestation and parturition. It's a group task that means we can collate all the knowledge that we've learnt over the past year when we begin answering the scenario, before dividing the topic into sections to make it easier to work through.⇓
In the same month, we also had our ‘cardiovascular fortnight’. Instead of concentrating on the gross anatomy during our dissection classes, as we did last year, we concentrated on the blood vessels and nerve supply. I am still in awe of the heart and how amazing it looks in situ. These dissections are fiddlier and, as a result, both accuracy and precision are needed to preserve the structures you're interested in. I feel my dissection technique is getting better, but I'm certainly not an artist.
Finally, before the end of term we had to complete a form to give an idea of what broad research fields we are interested in, to give us an idea of what we would complete our dissertation in. I was unsure of what to choose since I've enjoyed many topics over the past year, and I didn't know what I wanted to concentrate on in more detail. One thing I learnt from my last dissertation was that it is better to enjoy your chosen topic, since it makes it easier for you to engross yourself in the field. In the end, I choose to concentrate on equine respiratory performance. It combines parts of both my dissertation and extended project qualification, which I completed at school, on the assessment and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. It fits in well with the fact that I've really enjoyed the lectures on respiratory infectious diseases. Hopefully, this will be something to look forward to this year. For now, I hope you all have a very happy 2016.