Progression and change are never easy things in life, especially when starting a new journey only a few months after finishing the previous. What I’m referring to is my progression from undergraduate to postgraduate!
My degree at the University of Lincoln felt it would last forever but here I am reminiscing back on my time there and it feels like a distant memory, especially the graduation which only took place two months ago. There are definitely friends and lecturers I’ll miss seeing and hanging out with as well as the community formed throughout the degree which is something I may never experience again.
I’ve been asked if I feel different now that I have progressed from undergraduate Biomedical Science degree to a PhD in Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol, personally I feel that it has changed everything. It’s something which is hard to quantify as there are always going to be big changes when moving from one place to another. I feel one of the main changes is that I am now truly independent. I have a basic income meaning I no longer have to fill out the dreaded Student Finance England forms which seem to get progressively harder to complete whilst still requesting the same basic information year on year. The biggest change by far is coming from a taught degree with a 3 month research project to a full time research degree with 3-4 years of a research project. My mind set from my undergraduate is to do small experiments and produce data and write it up within 6 months. A PhD requires many experiments, improvements, failures, developments and progression which aren’t feasible as an undergraduate balancing taught modules as well as a research project in a short period of time. Also research degrees require a lot of self-motivation and dedication as I am in charge of my work and setting my own deadlines. A PhD is one project over the course of 3-4 years where you start from the basics and quickly progress to the advance novel applications, all the while becoming an expert in your field.
My field, changing from Biomedical Science to Engineering Mathematics may sound crazy, ludicrous and frankly impossible but the basic overview is that I am applying swarm behaviours in nature to understanding and controlling nanoparticles in a cellular environments. Compared to other PhD students I’ve met, I am very interdisciplinary. I have the opportunity to experiment with nanoparticles in microfludic devices and cellular environments in the wet lab (using my undergraduate skills) to modelling the particles using robotic swarms (although with more guidance and support in that area!). There are currently two places I work between which are the Queen’s Engineering Building and the Bristol Robotics Lab; Soon I should be working in a third place when I acquire wet lab space to run nanoparticle experiments.
Many people talk about PhDs being very difficult but, although I only have one months experience so far, I love it. I love the freedom to research, attend engaging lectures and to be creative and suggest interesting, novel applications as well as working in nanomedicine, on nanoparticles which I’m very passionate about. Also working with a supervisor who is very passionate and outgoing inspires me to do my best, to be the best.
To summarise my experience after one month, I know it’ll start getting busier, stressful and difficult, but this is something I truly love. I see this as my dream job; researching in nanomedicine to produce swarm behaviours in nanoparticles.