Biology Research Placement Testimonial

Duncan Cooper
Tuesday 16 May 2023

Jonah is a fourth year Biology student who is currently doing a Biology Research Placement in Baltimore, USA. Here’s what he has to say about his experience so far:

I’m spending my 4th year on a biology research placement at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in the USA, where I’m conducting research on sexual selection and signal evolution in these cute American fish called darters. I’m really enjoying the agency I have, since I get to devote most of my time towards planning my own research and experimental techniques, and communicating my ideas to the lab.

Me holding a bucket of freshly collected darter fish

It’s been fun observing the little (and sometimes big) differences between the US and the UK, and as a biology student, it’s cool to see the flora and fauna are here as well. I’m also organising a December trip to NYC with the UMBC climbing society which should be fun. To anyone who ends up on a placement or studying abroad, I would really recommend joining some sort of society or sports club early on – I’ve started going to the local indoor climbing centre with the UMBC climbing society twice a week, and it’s a great way to meet new people.

Small fish in a tank
A tessellated darter showing interest in a video stimulus of another individual.

When it comes to planning your time abroad, I would advise that as soon as you’ve confirmed which institution you’ll be at, you should communicate with them to determine what kind of visa you’ll need (if any) and what documents you’ll need to fill out (both for the host institution and for that country’s government). Also, make sure to double check how much student finance you’ll be entitled to: I’m only entitled to a full maintenance loan because my placement is unpaid, involves my own research, and is at a university. Get grants (e.g., Turing scheme) if you can! Lastly, make sure to regularly check your bank balance and keep track of how much spare cash you have each month. Treat yourself now and then, but try not to indulge.

A river in the USA
The stream in Maryland where we collected some darters in October.


Thank you Jonah for sharing your work abroad experience!

If you would like to find out more about Biology Research Placements, or working abroad in general, please email [email protected]

Leave a reply

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.