Undergraduate to PhD Student: Paige’s Inspiring Science Study Story

dusting for prints

Starting a degree at Wrexham Glyndŵr University (WGU) was a last-minute decision for me. At high school, I was told that I would fail my science exams. It knocked my confidence so much that I decided pursuing science was no longer the right path for me. Instead of doing A Level science, I went to college to study childcare. I decided to apply to university to study paediatric nursing. The nursing application process required English tests to minimise the number of applicants from thousands to just a couple of hundred. I failed the tests. I had now had five rejections and no clear plan of what I wanted to do.

I decided to give science one last chance. I looked up Forensic Science degrees and found that WGU was home to one of the few body farms in the UK. They also had a foundation year route which would allow me to catch up on the science knowledge I had missed out on at A level. I'd always been fascinated with crime television shows and have no doubt that my love for NCIS and Bones was one of the reasons I decided to study Forensic Science. I struggled to settle into university, but by my second year, everything just started clicking into place. I received a dyslexia diagnosis and received outstanding support from my lecturers and the inclusion team. I now had the support I needed, and my grades started increasing.

At the end of my second year at WGU, I had the opportunity to visit America. We went on a crime tour where we visited several museums, memorial sites and a maximum-security prison. However, the most memorable experience was the day we spent at the University of Tennessee. In the morning, we learnt all about decomposition and bones and spent the afternoon in one of the very few Human Taphonomy research facilities in the world. This is where I became fascinated with the study of Forensic Taphonomy.

Since this trip, much of my research has had a focus on Forensic Taphonomy. My dissertation research looked at whether human body size had an impact on the rate of decomposition. I later went on to win two awards; a High Commendation at the Global Undergraduate Awards, where there were over 4,000 submissions from students in 50 different countries, ranking it in the top 10% of the Life Science category; and the Delegates Choice Award at the British Association for Forensic Anthropology's Summer Conference.

Now I'm a first-year PhD student and working as a sessional lecturer teaching on the programme I studied. I still can't quite believe it. I'm the first person in my family to get a degree, let alone go on to postgraduate study.

Now I get to be a role model for my niece, those struggling with additional learning needs and those who were told they would fail and that science or university wasn't for them.


Written by Paige Tynan, an Applied Science PhD student at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.