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Profile: Julia Dabrowska

Woman with short blonde hair wearing a red dress

Julia Dabrowska (2022, DPhil Interdisciplinary Bioscience), WCR Social Secretary

Julia is entering her second year doing a DPhil in Interdisciplinary Bioscience at Univ. She is also one of the WCR’s Social Secretaries. Before coming to Oxford, she studied at Cambridge University and Imperial College London. 

How have you changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
I’ve only been at Univ for just under a year, but I’ve definitely become more independent and confident in myself and my own decisions. I came to Oxford knowing virtually no one, so had to put myself out there to try and make some connections while still keeping up with my course and the start of a new chapter. Thankfully, the college system and being part of a large DTP cohort really helped, as I met many great people through shared first-year accommodation and various MCR or DTP social events. Being part of such a vibrant and diverse community, and placed in a new setting, I’ve been able to understand myself better, shape my values and grow as a person. Everyone at Oxford has such different backgrounds, perspectives, and hobbies, and while there isn’t enough time in the world for me to pursue all of my interests, I can definitely learn a great deal from others.

Woman smiling in sub fusc in front of the Radcliffe CameraAlso, I think I’m finally getting closer to figuring out what I want to research in the next few years (something that has been a struggle!).

What are you researching for your DPhil? How is it going?
My programme involves doing two rotations in the first year before committing to a specific project, so I don’t yet precisely know what the DPhil will be on. I’m currently wrapping up my second rotation, where we’re using computational models to analyse brain networks activated during mechanisms of memory consolidation. I’m still working out my main project, but I know I’m interested in cognitive neuroscience topics like memory, attention, or executive function, and I want to combine experimental data collection (for anyone reading this, come be my participant – you’ll get an Amazon voucher and help out a struggling student because recruitment is hard!) with computational work.

How is it going? That honestly depends on the day, my mood, and whether I happen to have just discovered a new problem, or solved one I was stuck on for a week (welcome to science). Overall, however, I’m excited to have finally figured out what I’m passionate about and create a project of my own that I can focus on for the next 3 years.

Friends in black tie ready for a ballWhat do you hope to do as WCR Social Secretary?
Personally, I think the biggest function of the WCR is to provide a community for graduate students at Univ, and an important part of this is providing fun events where people can meet fellow Univites and take their minds off academic work or other problems. Postgraduate social life at Univ dipped as a result of the pandemic, and our main goal is to do our best to reboot the social scene to become the busy, thriving community it once was (or better!).

We currently have the biggest committee we’ve had in a while, and following a successful Trinity term we’re planning to start the next academic year off strong for the new cohort of students, with lots of plans for Freshers’ events, BOPs, formal exchanges, quizzes, creative activities and much more!

Rowing crew holding coxDo you have any advice for settling into life in Oxford?
Honestly, there is a lot going on when you first arrive. From personal experience, with course or college inductions, social events, societies, meeting new people, starting your academic work, all while possibly moving to a new city or country and dealing with the relevant admin, you might feel overwhelmed. While all of this is important, remember that you do not need to join every single society or go to every single meetup if it is too much and that you have a whole year (or two, or four!) ahead of you. Remember to take some time for yourself, and try to set aside time for good sleep, exercise, and decent nutrition, because they affect not only your physical but also your mental health more than you may think.

On the flip side, do try to step out of your comfort zone! Be open towards people you meet, join new societies or try new hobbies, attend talks in new subjects – while your degree is important, Oxford and Univ have so much to offer in terms of non-academic opportunities and engaging in these outside of work will massively improve your general wellbeing.

Woman with blond windswept hair smiling on a pierWhat is your proudest achievement (personal or professional)?
Very stereotypical, I know, but genuinely probably learning about myself and subsequently growing significantly as a person over my time at university. Over the last few years, I’ve met some amazing people and reflected a lot on my thoughts and behaviours, and I’m proud of the strength, values and confidence I’ve developed as a result. Linked to the first question, I also am proud for (somewhat) figuring out what I want to research for my DPhil (but what to do after is definitely a problem for later).

Describe Univ in three words.
The longest Grace!

Published: 4 September 2023

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