Doctor graduates after balancing his research with work on the frontline during the pandemic

16 December 2020

Doctor graduates after balancing his research with work on the frontline during the pandemic

Dr Matthew Flynn graduates from Ulster University with a distinction in his Master of Research (MRes) in Microbiology of the upper respiratory tract. Originally from Glasgow, Matthew continued his work as an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor whilst completing his MRes.

For Matthew, juggling his work on the frontline during the pandemic with his studies was ‘a lot to handle.’ He had to be flexible and adaptive, often using spare time while on call in hospital to work on his dissertation,

“It really helped that my project was not laboratory based, and I learned to be flexible. It was a long summer of work and study, but I was able to contribute to a global effort in the fight against the pandemic and go into work at a time many people couldn't even leave their homes.”

Discussing the motivation behind his research, Matthew commented:   

“As an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist I have a vested interest in the upper airway. Infections of the respiratory tract are considered among the most basic diagnoses in medicine but our understanding of them is still fairly poor. If we can improve diagnostics for these we have the opportunity to benefit our individual patients with short term illness, but also more economically and globally, due to the high financial burden and mortality of infectious disease worldwide that is only set to get more challenging with new resistant bugs.”

During his time at Ulster Matthew had the opportunity to share his important research with the scientific community, presenting at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Coronavirus Conference and sharing his results on the website medRxiv while he awaits full publication in a scientific journal.

In October Matthew was awarded Membership of the Academy of Medical Educators in recognition of his commitment to teaching and high standards of delivery. He has been teaching anatomy in the dissection laboratory in Queen’s University for four years, and has innovated new ways to teach students to examine ears and throats online during the pandemic.   

Speaking about his choice to study at Ulster, Matthew said:

“I've enjoyed living in Derry-Londonderry and working on the North Coast for several years before enrolling at Ulster. I've made many lifelong friends and made full use of the hiking and photography opportunities it presents. I had trained with the Ulster University Athletics team for the year prior to my studies, so I already had grown to like the campus and sports facilities at Coleraine. I got the opportunity to represent the University at the national student championships, and was part of a relay team which set a new university record.”

After graduation, Matthew will continue training towards becoming a consultant and, inspired by his Master’s research, he plans to complete a Doctorate in his area of interest. Currently working in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, Matthew is also completing a formal postgraduate certificate in education and has combined his research interests with teaching through delivering a module on the microbiology of the upper airway at the University of Edinburgh.


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