Benji Cooper (Biology Student)

Attended St Brendans 2012 - 2014

Courses Studied: Biology, Physics, Music Performing, EPQ, Business (AS level) 

Previous School: City Academy Bristol 

Benji Cooper

Benji Cooper

After St Brendan’s I enrolled at Macalester College in St Paul, MN (USA). I'm now half-way through my 4-year "liberal arts" undergraduate degree here in Minnesota (but my A-levels allow it be a 3 and a half year course if I choose to apply the credits). During my summers and winters so far, I have worked in neuroscience research at the University of Wisconsin, biophysics software engineering at Loma Linda University Medical School, chemical engineering at Pajarito Powder in New Mexico and am currently working in more biophysics research at Columbia University's Medical Campus in New York. Next semester (Fall 2016) I will study neuropharmacology in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of Macalester's study abroad program.

My major (title of my B.A. degree) is Biology with an added emphasis in Biochemistry. I never did a Chemistry A-level and didn't enjoy general chemistry at Macalester, but once I was studying organic chemistry there, I found myself really enjoying it, and I only have to take a year of Biochemistry to add it to my degree! That's one benefit of University in the USA; you can completely change or adjust your major during the first few years, if you find your interests evolving.

My plan for my summer jobs is to explore as many applications of biology and technology as I can so I can be better equipped to make a decision for my post-graduate career. I'm very happy with the amount of experience I have so far and it has proven very useful. There are so many research Universities in the USA, that opportunities are always present for summer experiences.

St Brendan’s prepared me for university in a range of ways. The semi-free timetable of A-levels is similar to University, so that was good preparation. I have found that at my college/uni, there is much more homework expected of you, though. 

My advice to current students is to check out foreign universities with just as much seriousness as the UK - there are always surprisingly interesting programs and generous scholarships for those that do. I also consider living abroad a life-changing experience.

In 10 years’ time I will have hopefully finished either a PhD or an MD/PhD in something that genuinely interests me and be working towards a career where I can use my passion for science to creatively change people's lives; whether that's through medical research, public relations, technology development or teaching. 

If you would like to talk to Benji more about his experiences studying abroad, or want to get some first-hand advice on how to go about applying to foreign universities, please contact the marketing team at – we can provide you with Benji’s email address!