I really love being able to talk to others about their work and share with them my own - I hear that doing a PhD can sometimes get a bit lonely but I have never experienced that.
How did you decide on your degree choice? What appealed about Manchester?
I was keen to see what impact my work would have, and so I applied for a CASE award, where the project is partly funded by a company. I have a lot of input in my project from an industrial supervisor, which is really helpful and I feel like it gives me more insight into how my research will be used. Unlike a lot of people, the goal of my research has been clear from the start, although the path to get there has at times been very frustrating!
What were your first impressions of the University and the city?
I was born in Manchester, and feel much pride in the city and how much it has progressed over the last decade or so. At the University, there are societies for just about every interest - no matter how obscure. There is a huge sporting presence within this city, and the University offers the chance to get involved with just about every sport and hobby you can think of.
What are you most enjoying about your course?
Doing a PhD isn't just about tearing your hair out! I work within the Waves group, supervised by Dr Will Parnell and Professor David Abrahams, and I am lucky to be sat within a group of people who are working on similar projects. I really love being able to talk to others about their work and share with them my own - I hear that doing a PhD can sometimes get a bit lonely but I have never experienced that.
Over the last three years, I have been given the chance to attend international conferences around the country and around the world, and in 2011 I attended a summer school in Vancouver. It's an amazing opportunity to meet people who are working on similar problems to your own, and it's nice to feel connected to the world wide mathematics community!
Working around so many like-minded people means that you are bound to find others with similar interests and hobbies. Within the applied maths group, we often organise social events outside of working hours, such as a going for a meal or a drink on a Friday evening. Aside from this, we all meet for coffee every morning, and go out for lunch together on a Friday.
What skills and attributes do you think you have gained from your course and co-curricular activities so far?
I think the main thing that I have gained over the course of my PhD is confidence, in both an academic and a personal sense. Having to interact with people from undergraduate students to prestigious professors teaches you a lot about how to communicate with a wide variety of people.
Aside from this, the list of skills I have gained, apart from the obvious academic ones, is endless! I certainly feel that having a PhD has put me a head and shoulders above the rest when applying for jobs. I decided that an academic role wasn't the path that I wanted to take, and have recently been offered a job at IBM as a technology consultant.
I have become involved with public engagement and science communication in the last three years, and I have developed and run a series of master classes for key stage 2 and key stage 3 students. It's been nice to be able to share some interesting aspects of mathematics with school students, to encourage them in their ability and understanding.
What advice would you give to students considering applying for the same course that you took?
If you are willing to work hard and put in the hours, then studying for a PhD is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun, so I would always encourage students to apply.
And try not to get depressed when things don't work - keep trying!