Meet the Subject Rep
A-Levels: Biology, Chemistry, Psychology
What first attracted me to study Biology is my interest in wildlife conservation. I also find animal behaviour and ecology very appealing, although I didn't know much about either of these topics before University.
I did small internships before my course started that really helped cement my interest, especially in lab work, and showed me what it would be like to work in the field in the future. I also found the variety of field work, lab work, and more traditional academic study suited my personality well, as I like having variety in my schedule.
A typical week
I like to have a general plan to my week so that I feel more organised in my work. On weekdays, I usually have two lectures in the morning. Practicals can be computer or lab-based and are once or twice a week. The rest of the afternoon I'll usually write or plan my essay set for the week.
I also do pole dancing and volleyball twice a week in the evening. The rest of my free time is usually spent with my friends, meeting at the College bar or the JCR, and going out on weekends.
I find it really motivating that everyone is genuinely interested in their subject, and we're supportive of one another so it doesn't feel competitive. We like to help each other out and it is nice to feel like I can rely on someone doing the same course as me. The best thing about studying Biology at New College is the sense of community between students, but also our tutors are great at making sure we get the most out of our four years at Oxford.
Our College tutors help by preparing us for our exams, especially essay writing. I have definitely improved since my first essay, mostly thanks to encouraging feedback. But they also like to check up on us to know how we're doing overall and how we're finding the course and the College in general. If there is something on the module that I find tricky, for example, I can ask them for help or they can direct me to someone who knows the specific subject well. They're great, making us feel like we have a support system.
In the future I want to get involved in wildlife conservation, especially abroad. Specifically, I hope to be able to work in the Amazon rainforest, since my family is from there and I've come to care about it a lot. I'd love to conduct my own research and be able to publish it. One of my main goals is just to feel like part of the scientific community and feel that what I'm doing is important.
Why New College?
Evolutionary biology is foundational to the Biological Sciences course at Oxford and this is a special strength of New College, both historically and from the expertise of current tutors and lecturers.
First year students conducting an experiment they designed to test optimal foraging theory in ducks. Biology tutorials don't always involve sitting in an office!
Our summer field trip to a Large Blue Butterfly breeding site in the Cotswolds.
- Dan, 3rd year student
What we look for
The sort of person who thrives here is curious about biology, interested and engaged in the subject, ready to ask questions and push themselves. This is what we look for in admissions interviews and, based on our brilliant students, we think we're good at finding it!
Tutor's research interests
Professor Ashleigh Griffin is interested in the evolution of cooperative behaviour because it poses a special problem for evolution - how can natural selection favour a behaviour that may reduce reproductive success? The question is important, not just so we can gain an insight into striking examples such as colonies of social insects or meerkat groups, but because it is fundamental to understanding life as we know it: the evolution of the genome, the eukaryotic cell and multicellular organisms.