Wondering what it’s like to do a PhD? And how you can develop your career after you gain your PhD? We’ve interviewed a variety of PhD students at different stages of their degree and PhD holders that have developed their careers and businesses in different directions, to help answer this for you.
View the profiles below to gain an insight into the life of PhD student – from their typical day to their biggest challenges and personal advice. Click here to read our interviews with PhD holders.
PhD Student Interviews
Annabel is a third-year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, looking at the effects of online self-diagnosis and health information seeking on the patient-healthcare professional relationship.
Aaron's now writing up his PhD thesis at the University of Birmingham. His research has investigated the Impact and Mitigation of Wavefront Distortions in Precision Interferometry.
Chris is making minor corrections to his PhD thesis post-viva at the University of Nottingham. His research was on optimising the cost-effectiveness of risk-based screening for diabetic retinopathy.
Freija is half way through her PhD at the Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, researching the transport of microplastics through the Mekong River and to the South China Sea.
Ellen is in the third year of her PhD at the University of Oxford. Her project looks at eighteenth-century reading manuals, using them to find out how eighteenth-century people theorised reading aloud.
Daisy's a year and half into her PhD at the University of Surrey. Her research project is based around the control of electron spin state in InSb quantum wells using quantum point contacts.
Julia's in her final year of her PhD at University College London. Her research is helping to better understand how Alzheimer’s disease arises, which could lead to new successful therapeutics.
Bethany is a 1st year PhD student at the University of Bath, researching the adaptation of a self-help smartphone app (BlueIce) to prevent self-harm and improve the mood of University students.
Chloe is a 2nd year PhD student at Bournemouth University, researching the mental health of postgraduate researchers and is designing interventions that may improve their wellbeing.
Maria is a 1st year PhD student at the University of Birmingham, researching how to employ and exploit the biology of human gamma delta T cells for development of cancer immunotherapy.
Gareth is getting ready for his PhD viva at Aberystwyth University and has been researching bacteria living inside coastal plants that can help other plants grow in salt contaminated soils.
Hannah is a 1st year PhD student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The aim of her research is to clarify what strategies are the most effective in supporting young people with dyslexia.
Chris is a third (and final) year PhD student at Ulster University. His project aims to develop a novel method of delivering antibiofilm compounds directly to an infected wound bed in patients.
Carlos Gonzalez Diaz
Carlos is a third year PhD student at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Games Intelligence (IGGI), as part of the University of York and Goldsmiths, University of London.
Helena is a final year PhD student at the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Oxford. Her research is on understanding the evolution of asteroids through analysis of meteorites.
Rebecca recently finished her PhD at the University of York. Her research investigated the adaptations that occur in the symbiosis between the tsetse fly and its bacterial microbiome.
Raluca is a final year PhD student at Queen Mary University of London. Her research is on exploring the algorithms of rolling horizon evolutionary algorithms for general video game playing.
Daniel is a third year PhD student at the University of York. His research is based around self-play training in multiagent systems; training AIs on a game such that they improve overtime.
Ellie is a final year PhD student at the University of Hertfordshire, investigating a protein which is implicated in pancreatic cancer; this work can improve the efficacy of cancer drug treatments.
Nick is a first year PhD student at Queen Mary University of London. The long-term goal of his research is to help game designers make games that support healthy engagement and well-being.
Ryan is in the final write up stages of his PhD at the University of Southampton. His research is on understanding narrative structure, media specificity and genre in transmedia storytelling.
Amy recently entered her third and final year of her PhD at the University of Strathclyde. Her research has focussed on young people's understanding of mental health stigma in Scotland.
Eleni is nearing the end of her PhD at the University of Sheffield on understanding Peroxidase immobilisation on Bioinspired Silicas and application of the biocatalyst for dye removal.
Alex is a PhD student at the University of Bradford researching ritual and funerary rites in later prehistoric Scotland: an analysis of faunal assemblages from the Covesea Caves.
Carina is a PhD student at The University of Manchester who has just defended her viva. Her research focuses on dermal white adipose tissue regulates human hair follicle growth and cycling.
Sam is a new PhD student at Teesside University. Her research is focussed on better understanding how writing poetry can help cancer survivors to work through mental and emotional issues.
Interviews with PhD Holders
View the profiles below to gain an insight into different ways that you can develop your work life after gaining your PhD. This could involve continuing a career in academic research, working in a commercial environment, starting your own business or doing something completely unrelated to your PhD.
Dr Amina Aitsi-Selmi
Dr Aitsi-Selmi gained her social epidemiology PhD from UCL in 2013. She now runs a private practice in Transformational Coaching and Consulting focused on careers, leadership and wellbeing.
Dr Jennifer Dillon (Bryant)
Dr Dillon gained her PhD in Molecular Cancer Studies at the University of Manchester in 2015. She now works at a biotech company called HairClone, optimising treatments for androgenic alopecia.
Dr Becky Smethurst
Dr Smethurst gained her DPhil in astrophysics from the University of Oxford in 2017. She is now an independent researcher at Oxford, runs a YouTube channel with over 100k subscribers and has published her own book.
Prof Carolyn Mair
Prof Mair gained her PhD in cognitive neuroscience from Bournemouth University in 2004. She is now a consultant working with the fashion industry and published her book in 2018.
Dr Rowan Hooper
Dr Hooper gained his PhD in evolutionary biology from the the University of Sheffield. He is now a journalist and writer (last book called Superhuman) and podcast editor at New Scientist.
Dr Ben Britton
Dr Britton gained his DPhil in material science research at Oxford University in 2010. He is now a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.
Prof Debby Cotton
Prof Cotton gained her DPhil in the school of education at Oxford University. She is now the Director of Academic Practice and Professor of Higher Education at Plymouth Marjon University.
Dr Nikolay Nikolov
Dr Nikolov gained his PhD in the area of Anthropology of Architecture from UCL in 2020. He is a video journalist working with Mashable and advises PhDs consider options outside of academia.