PhD lockdown story: Benjamin Stacey

Benjamin Stacey, PhD student

Benjamin Stacey, a Research Assistant at the Neurovascular Research Laboratory talks about his PhD life and discusses lockdown’s ‘silver lining’ for research output, grant applications and collaborative opportunities to join the fight against COVID-19.   

Benjamin graduated with first-class Honours from the Sports and Exercise Science degree before progressing on to his PhD. He is in the final stage of his PhD which investigates the effects of low oxygen levels (hypoxia) on the regulation of cerebrovascular (brain) function

“Having spent the vast majority of my PhD in the research laboratory at both USW and in other countries, I was slightly apprehensive of the implications of lockdown for the progression of both my PhD and my academic research career," said Ben. 

Ben Stacey

Benjamin, pre-lockdown, using Duplex ultrasonography to examine extracranial cerebral blood flow in the Environmental Chamber

“However, to the contrary, lockdown has provided me with the opportunity to write-up multiple research publications in some of the highest impact factor biomedical journals in our specialist neurosciences field. 

“A vital component often missing from a young academic is the experience of applying for research funding and if there’s a silver lining to lockdown, it’s undoubtedly having additional time to apply for grant funding. Accordingly, I have collaborated on a funding application for the prestigious Royal Society International Collaboration Awards (2020) led by Professor DM Bailey, in conjunction with a research team in Lima, Peru (outcome expected in November 2020). We are also about to submit two Welsh Assembly Government applications in the international call to fight COVID-19”. 

Neurovascular Lab researchers

Members of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory conducting COVID-19 related research

“Whilst the majority of laboratories around the world have ceased all research-related activity, the Neurovascular Research Laboratory has been fortunate enough to be involved with the clinical validation of a USW pulse oximeter prototype, developed for COVID-19 patients in collaboration with Professor Nigel Copner’s team. 

"The prototype has been designed to be manufactured in Wales, essentially eliminating future sourcing bottlenecks and can help indicate when there isn’t sufficient oxygen in a person’s blood (hypoxia), the silent killer that ultimately costs lives”.   

“It is undeniable that this is an unprecedented time for many, although the constraints of lockdown have undoubtedly opened up an avenue of new challenges and exciting opportunities for this postgraduate researcher,"  added Ben.