June 20, 2012
First Class Honours BSc Neuroscience w. Biochemistry

Had my Viva yesterday.

The Viva was supposed to be an interview with the external examiner, on pretty much anything I’ve been taught on the course, with some emphasis on my dissertation. I had 5 days notice that I had to do the Viva. There wasn’t much preparation I could do except for re-familiarise myself with my dissertation.

A grueling nigh-on 40min interview with the external examiner, a professor from The University of Oxford. A reader of Pharmacology, and fellow in Neuroscience. He grilled me on my dissertation, the purpose of it, what the value of the research was, how the experiment was conducted, how parameters were calculated and he asked me to really specifically dissect a graph of a compound action potential I included in my work. Like, I didn’t think very much of the graph when I wrote the work; it was merely there to demonstrate the effects of temperature on mouse optic nerve function, but he was fascinated by it.

It’s a mouse optic nerve compound action potential…. what does it mean?

He inquired about the mechanisms of the action potential, the molecular mechanisms of exocytotic vesicular trafficking, release of neurotransmitter and neurotransmitter function. Then he asked me some historical questions on pioneers in fields such as neurotransmission, astrocytic glycolysis and glycogen/lactate metabolism, the ionic basis of action potentials, visual transduction pathways and how energy failure affects axonal function.

All this followed by him asking me to explain the genetic basis of schizophrenia, the underlying neurochemistry, which drugs are used to treat it, how and why they do/don’t work. Following this I was asked to link molecular epigenetics into all this by explaining why and how schizophrenia isn’t entirely genetic and how the interplay of the environment with the genome may precipitate schizophrenia.

Later in the day I was told I have a First Class honours for my degree. Apparently the examiner liked me, thought my viva was the best by far and I was a ‘pleasure’ to discuss science with or something.


I am currently very happy.

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