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Early career researchers’ advice for future PhDs

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This year’s Research Rocket was a celebration of the contributions our early career research community are making and a welcome to all those who have joined us in recent months.

The speakers, all current PhD students or post-doctoral research staff, spoke about the work they are currently involved with and also took the opportunity to share a nugget of advice with their peers about how to get the most from doing a PhD.

Today here on our blog we’re outlining some of that advice so that future potential PhD candidates reading this can also benefit from our current cohort’s experiences.

In our Department of Chemical Engineering, Marcus Johns is doing his PhD research looking at tissue engineering to create heart valves. His own genetic heart condition motivates his research, and his advice to future PhD students is to make the most of their collaborators. Marcus has worked with colleagues in Brazil and the USA and said that without these people, he wouldn’t have achieved what he has so far.

Early career researcher Dr Theresa Smith from our Department of Mathematical Science is analysing data to better understand the spread of disease. She said that doing a PhD can feel a bit like working in a maze, you can feel lost but she advises that you reflect and “enjoy the journey, you might be surprised at where you find inspiration”.

Harriet Carroll, a PhD student from our Department for Health who is looking at the impact on hydration on blood sugar control, said that you need to learn that rejection isn’t always a negative when doing a PhD. She outlined how rejection has led her to better options and to where she is today, and that by working through rejection the overall result will be better.

In our Department of Electrical Engineering, early career research Dr Despina Moschou is working to make a microchip that brings together tiny medical diagnostics tools. Her advice to anyone considering PhD research is follow their excitement and not feel limited to keep within their current discipline.

Finally, Dr Tom Curran from our Department for Health is looking at the impact of perfectionism on mental health. His advice comes directly from his own personal experiences and from his research when he says “perfection should never be a criteria in aiming for success”.

Are you currently or have you recently done a PhD? What advice would you give to potential future candidates based on your own experiences? How can you work most effectively to do good quality research, while balancing other pressures? We’d love to hear your thoughts, please do comment below!

You can read more about the content of the talks and see a video from the evening here.

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