My name is Dayo and I am a second
year PhD student at the University studying Politics. I am researching how
underrepresented members of the public in policy making (in the case of my
research, Black and Minority Ethnic young adults aged 18 – 25) are included in
the process of policy making. I also work as a teaching assistant for politics
related courses in undergraduate and Master’s level courses.
My route into PhD has been an
interesting journey rather than a direct path. It has been a process of
re-inventing myself and following my passion. My undergraduate degree was in
Economics which I realised quite early on was not for me so I did not
particularly excel in this degree. After a year out working, I figured out what
my next steps would be so I did Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management
and Management Psychology. I did well in these courses. Doing a PhD was
something I had previously considered as it was suggested by my academic
adviser during one of my Master’s degrees but I did not pursue it.
On graduating, I worked for about seven
years in the private and not-for-profit sectors in Learning and Organisational
Development. The knowledge and soft skills I gained at university meant that I
was able to progress in my career by successfully utilising these skills.
Whilst I had no academic knowledge
of policy making, I began to get interested in policy making as one of my jobs
gave me exposure to this field. I then started to notice the lack of diverse
representation in decision making bodies of public policy. There were ‘hidden’
and ‘silent’ groups of people who were not getting involved in decision-making.
I wanted to know why this was the
case and also find solutions that would increase representation in policy
making so that their experiences of issues could be taken into account when
policy is being made.
Transitioning from being a
practitioner to being back in university has been great; it has given me the
opportunity to have the headspace to read and articulate the issues I am
concerned about. I am doing lots of reading! What is also great and a highlight
of my degree is that my fieldwork - working with real people in the real world
- provides the opportunity to design an approach based on academic theories and
study whether it works or not.
Skills gained from the practitioner
work, in particular project management skills (time and resource management as
well as organisational), are helping me progress with my PhD.
Through my journey, I have
hopefully shown that a route to doing a PhD in Politics does not have to be
typical. I have also shown that political parties and elections is just one
component of a Politics degree.
So if you want to be the change, a
degree in Politics could be for you!
If you are interested in finding
out more about politics, here are some links you may find useful.
Politics degrees in Manchester: https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/study/courses/
Career options as a Politics
Information about how Government works: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/
Information on the UK Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk/
How research impacts on Policy: http://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/blogs/
My name is Rebecca and I am a 2nd year PhD
student in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. I have been
interested in animals and the natural world since I was very young, so chose to
study Natural Sciences, specialising in Zoology, at undergraduate level.
Following this, I was selected for an animal husbandry internship at Chester
Zoo, which cemented my desire to work with animals in zoological collections. I
focused on this in more detail whilst completing my MSc Wild Animal Biology,
examining multiple aspects of conservation and animal husbandry.
My research focuses on how birdsong can influence
conservation. Birdsong exhibits clear population differences known as dialects,
which are similar to accents in humans. These dialects can form very rapidly,
especially in small, ex situ
populations. They also play an important role in mate choice, with females
preferring local over foreign dialects. Conservation interventions often bring
birds from different populations together, so dialect differences could impact
mate choice. This could cause many problems, the most serious being that birds
may not integrate and breed in their new population.
Automated recording unit
Many songbirds are threatened with extinction.
Unfortunately, critically endangered species are often hard to access and have
low sample sizes, meaning this kind of research is not possible. To avoid this,
I work with a model species, the Java Sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora), which is numerous in zoos and aviculture but
threatened in its home range. Once studied in the model, we can expand our
techniques to more critically endangered birds.
Recording birds can be surprisingly challenging!
Environments are full of noise, whether natural (like water and wind) or
man-made (like traffic or electrical appliances), which also show up on our
recordings. Lots of different equipment is available for different situations.
Recordings in controlled conditions can make use of sensitive directional
microphones. However, recordings outdoors require sturdy automatic recording
units (ARUs), which can be left for long periods in all weather.
Although we may be able to hear differences between the
songs of different birds, it can be difficult to understand and explain how songs are different through
listening alone. We can visualise songs
as a spectrogram, which allows us to analyse songs much more accurately.
Generally, we are interested in two main parts of song:
spectrotemporal and structural features.
Spectrotemporal features include information about the
timing of the song, for example its duration and the intervals between notes,
and spectral details, such as minimum and maximum frequency.
Structural features relate to the notes themselves - their
shape, how they are grouped together.
Once we have extracted these features for songs from
multiple birds, we can compare them to see how similar their songs are. If bird songs are more similar within than
between populations, it is good evidence that dialects exist in the species.
Find out more about songbird conservation with Chester Zoo’s
Sing for Songbirds (https://www.actforwildlife.org.uk/what-we-fight-for/conservation-challenges/our-campaigns/sing-for-songbirds)
and EAZA’s Silent Forest (https://www.silentforest.eu) campaigns
The Macaulay Library (https://www.macaulaylibrary.org) is a
great birdsong resource with recordings from thousands of species.
Chester Zoo profile link:
I am studying for a PhD in Statistical
Physics and Complex Systems at The University of Manchester. My research
studies a system of many interacting species where the population of one
species can facilitate or hinder the growth of another species. This
relationship is determined by a specific interaction coefficient between the
species. The interaction coefficients for the relationship between every pair
of species are drawn randomly from a two-dimensional Gaussian distribution, and
we use the parameters of this distribution to predict how the ecosystem
behaves. We can then simulate these interacting species using a computer
programme to check our predictions.
I studied Mathematics and Physics for
my undergraduate degree at The University of Manchester. I chose this degree
because I enjoy understanding how the world works, and appreciate how bizarre
and counter-intuitive our reality is. I had a fascination for quantum mechanics
and relativity, higher dimensions, and sub-atomic particles. I really enjoyed
learning about these concepts as well as being introduced to many other
fascinating ideas. I enjoyed the lecture style of teaching but I also developed
my ability for independent learning, I became really good at managing my own time,
and absorbing information at my own pace from reading textbooks and lecture
notes. The most useful skill I learned during my degree was how to computer
programme, I learned how use Matlab, C++, and Python, and I learned how to
write codes for simulations, data analysis, solving complicated equations, and
optimization algorithms. I decided to do a PhD after my undergraduate degree
because I really enjoy self-study and programming, and I am further developing
these skills with new challenges every day.
I became interested in population
dynamics after reading "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins, where
he described behavioural evolution using ideas from Game Theory. He described
how an animal’s behaviour, and the behaviours of the other animals it interacts
with, would determine how successful the animal would be at surviving and
passing on it genes. These successful behavioural strategies would dictate how
the behaviour of the population as a whole would change over time, and evolve
to an Evolutionary Stable Strategy which could be understood as stable Nash
equilibria. During my degree I took the opportunity to study Game Theory
further by writing my second year vacation essay on the topic. I researched
many areas of Game Theory and went through a short online course. I discovered
how it can be applied to statistical physics, in the Ising model for
ferromagnets, and really enjoyed learning about how ideas from quantum
mechanics could produce Quantum Game Theory, where a player could play multiple
strategies at the same time. In my fourth year I undertook a project with my
current PhD supervisor on a population of individuals who had the choice of two
behavioural strategies to interact with. The population evolved by the number
of individuals playing the more successful strategy increasing, but this model
also considered the effect of time delay, such as a gestation period in nature.
I really enjoyed my project with my supervisor and through this I continued
onto a PhD with him.
Here is a link to my supervisor’s
webpage, if you are interested in my research you could look at his
Here are links to the undergraduate
Mathematics and Physics courses webpages:
If you are interested in game theory,
here is a brief course:
If you are interested in “The Selfish
Gene” here is a brief summary of the book, chapter 12 discusses game theory:
and the full text can be downloaded
Hi, my name is Kim Petersen and I’m a second year PhD
student at the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE).
My PhD research focusses on primary school children’s mental
health and wellbeing. I am interested in looking at lots of different aspects
of children’s mental health and wellbeing (e.g. feeling sad, angry, happy,
enjoying life etc.) and finding common
patterns of mental health and wellbeing. I want to find out:
1) what causes the different
patterns of mental health
2) whether behaviour programmes
used in schools affect children’s mental health
I hope this information will help us to find ways to improve
children’s mental health and wellbeing in the future.
How did I get here?
After my A-levels I went to Glasgow University to do a
degree in Psychology. I went on to work for a charity, supporting children with
different neurological conditions, like autism spectrum disorder. Then, I did a
PGCE teacher training qualification and worked as a primary school teacher. While
working as a teacher I became really interested in children’s mental health and
wellbeing and what schools could do to try and improve it. So, I decided to go
back to university to do research in
this area. First, I did a Master’s degree in Psychology and Education and then I
applied to do a research PhD. I didn’t always know that I would end up doing
this, but my experiences and interests sort of led me here, and I really enjoy
what I am doing.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a term we have all heard of, but what does
it actually mean? Sometimes, when people talk about ‘mental health’, they are
only talking about mental health disorders, like depression or schizophrenia.
Today, many researchers, and others, think that mental health is more than
this. As well as mental health difficulties, there are also positive aspects of
mental health like feeling good and satisfied with your life. There is a widely
held statistic that ‘1 in 4 people have mental health problems’. However, 4 out of 4 people have mental health because 4 out of 4 people have brains! In other words
mental health is something we all have and we should focus on helping everyone
gain better mental health and wellbeing.
I am investigating mental health in this broad way, which
includes both mental health problems and positive aspects of mental wellbeing. We collected information about children’s
mental health and wellbeing by giving surveys to around 3000 primary school children
and their teachers. We also collected other information about the children,
like whether they were male or female, how they felt about their school, their
relationships with other children, their school grades, and whether they had
taken part in a school behaviour programme.
To make sense of all the information collected I use a
computer programme to help me to find patterns in the data. For example, I can
use the programme to see if there are some groups of children who show very
similar patterns of mental health. I can then look at what other characteristics
these children have. For example, if I found a group of children that had no
mental health problems but felt very happy and satisfied with life, I could
find out if those children were more likely to be male or female, have better relationships with their friends,
or have taken part in a school behaviour programme, compared to other
groups. The aim is to identify what might be important for good mental health
and wellbeing so that we can try to improve children’s mental health in the
Why is this kind of research important?
Improving children’s mental health has been highlighted as
an important issue in the UK. The government has said that schools have an
important role to play in doing this. Research is needed to show what schools
can do to try and improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Find out more about children’s mental health and wellbeing
on these charities’ webpages:
The Good Childhood Report provides information about what
children and young people say about their own mental health and wellbeing:
This is a summary of a recent government proposal for how to
improve children’s mental health and wellbeing:
Here is a link to the Manchester Institute of Education so
you can see what courses we offer and what research we do:
My name is Alex Trafford and I am a second year Epidemiology
PhD student in the Division of Pharmacy and Optometry. I have quite a diverse
academic background for somebody in my field, being unsure of which subjects I
enjoyed most at school and splitting my A-levels between the sciences and
humanities. I eventually decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in
geography, with two years at Lancaster University and one year abroad at the
University of North Carolina. In my final undergraduate year I took part in a
module looking at health geographies - during this time I came across the field
of epidemiology, which combined aspects of science and humanities, and decided
that this was the direction I wanted to go in. In order to learn more about the
field, I completed a master’s degree in Demography and Health at the London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2017.
In late 2017, I received funding from the Global Psoriasis
Atlas and started my PhD in Epidemiology at Manchester. My project here
involves using huge datasets to understand how having psoriasis might make
somebody more or less likely to get cancer.
Although epidemiology is not a field that is as well-known
as others, like maths or chemistry, its results are often very well publicised
and can shape how many people live their lives. The first epidemiological study
was conducted in London by John Snow (not the one from Game of Thrones), who
used a map of cases of ill health and interviews with local people to identify
a contaminated water pump that was spreading cholera. Since this first study,
epidemiology has been developed and used in a lot of different ways to improve
health – from proving that smoking can be extremely bad for your health to
recognising the role of mosquitos in the spread of yellow fever. Though more
traditional methods are still used to quantify disease and its distribution - for
example, in recent Ebola outbreaks - epidemiology has also evolved to use big
data and more complex techniques, such as machine learning.
In my research, I will be using big data to understand how
having psoriasis may influence the risk of developing cancer. Although
psoriasis presents as a condition of the skin, it involves chronic, systemic
inflammation and this has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in other
conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. However, attributing an altered
risk of developing cancer to the inflammation involved in psoriasis is
challenging due to the presence of other lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking.
As it has been demonstrated that smoking is more common in people with
psoriasis, it is challenging to say whether people with psoriasis develop cancer
more often because of their psoriasis or because they are more likely to smoke
– this is a concept known as confounding in epidemiology.
To try to understand whether people with psoriasis do
develop cancer more, and whether it’s likely to be a result of their psoriasis
or other lifestyle behaviours, I am analysing health data recorded by GPs and
Hospitals in England. By following anonymous people with and without psoriasis
through their health records, it is possible to compare the number of cancer
diagnoses in each group. Having data for behaviours such as smoking then allows
me to understand how these factors might be influencing any risk.
Gaining an understanding of whether people with psoriasis do
develop cancer more, and what might be causing this, is vital for the current
care of people with psoriasis and may also guide important future immunological
research into the topic.
To learn more about John Snow’s first epidemiological study
To learn more about epidemiology –
To learn more about psoriasis –
Population health at the University of Manchester –