Ana Castro-Castellon

1st Year DPhil Student, Lady Margaret Hall

Ana Castro-CastellonI am undertaking a DPhil in Engineering Science (Environmental) in the University of Oxford working on a project sponsored by Thames Water: Phytoplankton reduction in a water treatment works by a “Living-Filter” in Farmoor II reservoir. A great thing I have found about the Engineering Department is the number of multidisciplinary projects carried out by people from different academic subjects.

My academic background started with my studies in Biomedical Sciences from the Pontifical Xaverian University (Bogotá, Colombia) and taking placements in the University’s Hospital and Nestlé’s Organic Chemistry laboratories. In Spain I completed a degree in Biology specializing in Zoology (Licenciada en Biología) and an MSc in Microbiology and Parasitology at the University Complutense of Madrid (UCM). I was part of an interdisciplinary research group investigating the environmental impact of the ostrich farm business, which involved the University Autonoma of Madrid and UCM. My thesis was published (350 copies) by the University Autonoma of Madrid in 2004.

I worked for nine years in Wessex Water plc, (Bath, UK), spending half of that time in the Trace Organics and Microbiology Laboratories as a Scientist. The following years I worked as a Regional Biologist within Operations, overseeing the water quality of their drinking water reservoirs. Whilst working, I embarked on an MSc by Research with the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, in order to evaluate an existing artificial mixing system to control algal blooms in a drinking water reservoir. Before I had finished, and my son also being at university, I decided to leave my job and pursue my dream of undertaking a PhD, but wanted a subject where I could apply biological concepts with an engineering understanding for the common good.

I have no doubts about my decision. Studying a DPhil Engineering Science in Oxford is enriched by the many activities on offer for all tastes. Last term I trained to become a “Peer Supporter”, within the Oxford Peer Support Programme, aiming to provide welfare to the community of my college, Lady Margaret Hall, and these are also skills I can take with me.