Which topic of research gives more transferable skills?


I have a master degree in pharmaceutical sciences and I am applying to research grants. I was selected to three research grants and I am having a very hard time deciding which one to accept.

The grants I was selected to are not PhD grants. In my country there are research grants for people with just masters degree that don’t give you a PhD. It’s a good way to start working with a group before you apply for a PhD with them and to see if you like the research field.

I’ve been reading about the difficulties people with PhD or research experience face, namely the difficulty in transitioning for the private sector jobs. Even if I do decide to pursue a PhD , in the end, I don’t want to get an academic career I want a job in the industry (either agro food, biotech, chemical industry or pharma).

So, maybe you could help me understand which one of the topics is more valuable and will give me more transferable skills.

1) First project is in food science, it was a project proposed by an association of farmers of a national agricultural product (pear and apples) to help find an alternative for a preservative that was banned by the EU. The goal is to study natural extracts or commercial extracts and see if they help prevent the deterioration of the fruits the same way the old preservative did. From what I understood, the techniques I’ll be working with are mainly HPLC-MS and GC-MS. This project is good because it already has the direct partnership with an “industrial” partner, but the work will be all done in the university so I am not sure there will be a lot of direct contact.

2) A project in industrial biotechnology whose broad goal is to find enzymes that degregade lignolytic compounds from biomass. The project is 3 months long renewable for 9 months but after that one ends they will open another in the same field. The techniques I’d be learning are mainly X ray crystallography of enzymes at first. Then, if I were to continue in the project, I’d be responsible to produce the enzymes too, so I’d learn how to engineer the DNA and insert it in the bacteria so they would produce the enzyme and then I’d learn purification techniques and screening assays to test the enzymes’ activity.

3) Third project is to study natural deep euctetic solvents and their potential use in food applications. The techniques would involve the production of NADES and then cytotoxicity assays as well as determination of ROS assays. The most promising compounds would be monitored on the long term and I’d conduct assays to see if they’d alter any properties of food, so I’d learn how to determine several physiochemical characteristics of foods (acidity, microrganism counting, etc)

Which one of the projects do you think would be a wiser bet for someone who’d want to go to the industry?

I should mention the last ones are very interesting but I am not sure they’d be applicable in the industry because it might be a bit expensive to do the scale up… For example, NADES are promising alternatives to conventional solvents, but I highly doubt they could be applicable in the pharmaceutical field since it’s a highly regulated field and any change an industry wants to make implies a huge bureaucratic process.

But I am not sure, so if any of you works in the industrial sector, you could clarify the opportunities each field would open.

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