My name’s Jake and I went to school in a small sleepy town
in North Wales, followed by sixth form where I studied Maths, Physics and
Chemistry A-levels. After this I was
accepted onto the Physics course at the University of Manchester, is one of the
most exciting, friendly and liberal cities in the U.K. - a really exciting
change compared to the slow pace of life in Wales! After a jam-packed few years of study, work,
fun and travel, I’ve fallen in love with Manchester and now work as a Student
Recruitment and Widening Participation (SRWP) Intern at the University.
I began university with absolutely no idea about what I
wanted to do in terms of a career. I
knew that I liked science, helping people and travel, but there was no
particular job that took my interest, so I decided to do an MPhys Physics
degree as my science grades were good, I liked Brian Cox documentaries and the
idea of academic research, as well as this Physics is a very well respected degree
with broad career prospects.
I assumed that over the course of the following four years
that I would have an epiphany moment – that everything would fall into place
and I would exclaim ‘Eureka! I’ve found
my life’s passion!’, and start doggedly pursuing an exciting career to
eventually become a world-leading researcher in an exciting and dynamic field.
To my dismay, this career revelation never occurred, and
actually as my degree went on I became more and more unsure about a career in
scientific research. For my MPhys
research, I investigated the effect of graphene upon bacteria, in the hope that
one day graphene could be used in a new generation of antibiotics. However, despite the amazing applications of
this research I learnt that a career in research is not for me (at least not
yet), as I’m not cut out for long hours in the lab and fiddling with computer
But by all means doesn’t mean that my degree was a waste of
time. On the contrary, my time as a
student was the best in my life – I’ve made fabulous life-long friends, gained
extremely employable skills, travelled to amazing places, and my
self-confidence has sky-rocketed.
One of the most important things that I’ve gained is that I’ve
learnt much more about myself, and what I like and what I dislike. I’ve discovered that I’m hugely passionate
about science communication, helping people, and spreading public awareness
about science, education, and social issues.
I also love working with people, using my creativity to blog and solve
problems, and enjoy variety in my work.
I’ve recently began work as a Student Recruitment & Widening
Participation Intern at the university and love it! In this role, I coordinate the University’s Aspiring
Student Society (UMASS), which helps people considering higher education to think
about their options and gives application and career guidance. I represent the University of Manchester at
UCAS fairs, help organise Open Days, and give talks to young people to help
them make more well-informed decisions about their futures. I work with the public on a regular basis,
every working hour is different and I feel proud working for such a prestigious
institution for which social responsibility is one of their core values. As term starts again soon I’m hoping to get
back involved with science and LBGTQ+ outreach too!
I’ve got no idea what’ll I’ll do after my internship, but
I’m sure as I carry on learning more, getting involved with more things and get
to grips with the job, I’ll have a clearer idea of what my next step will be.
: The University of Manchester Aspiring Students’ Society – a good resource for
anyone who’s considering applying to any academic institution.
: The Widening Participation programmes at Manchester, which encourage students
of all educational backgrounds to apply to Manchester.
: Manchester’s hugely popular annual science festival – a great opportunity to
learn about different areas of science, its importance and impact. You can also speak to world-leading
: The University of Manchester’s Student Blogs.
These give a valuable insight into university life and offer tips
covering all parts of student life.
My name is Imca Hensels, and I am a PhD student nearing the
end of my first year. I am in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental
Psychology, where I am a part-time Teaching Assistant and a part-time PhD
student. My research focuses on what happens in the brains of obese people when
they eat, and how this differs from what happens in the brains of people who
have a normal weight.
I started my education at Amsterdam University College (http://www.auc.nl/), where I studied Liberal Arts
and Sciences with a major in Psychology. I always really enjoyed studying lots
of things and I did not know exactly what I wanted to study for my bachelor’s
degree. Studying Liberal Arts and Sciences allowed me to explore lots of things
(from biomedical sciences to English literature), and I ended up loving
psychology, so I stuck with that. After my bachelor’s degree, I went on to do
the MSc Research Methods in Psychology at University College London (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/study/masters/TMSPSYSRES01).
This is where I met my current PhD supervisor and where I really started to
specifically study eating behaviour, which is the topic of my PhD as well.
For my PhD, more specifically, I investigate what happens on
a neuronal level in the brain when people expect to eat food, and when they
actually eat the food. I do this using electroencephalography (EEG), which
allows me to measure brain activity at the millisecond level. I am hoping that
by finding out how obese people’s brains differ from normal-weight people’s
brains when they eat food, we will be able to understand why some people
overeat and others do not. It might even be the case that my current research
will be able to lead to the development of new therapies or even social
policies at some point. I would say that in general, I very much enjoy what I
do. Doing a PhD is very challenging – much more challenging than I expected
when I started – which is usually quite fun because it keeps me on my toes. Of
course, the flipside is that sometimes the challenges can get quite
overwhelming, leading to a lot of stress.
I am not sure what I want to do after my PhD. My plan was
always to keep doing research and eventually become a professor. I might still
do this, but the experience I have gained during my PhD has also shown me that
there are many things to do outside of research, or even outside of academia.
For instance, being a Teaching Assistant on the BSc Psychology has also made me
think about the possibility of going into teaching full-time, because the
teaching I am doing now feels very worthwhile and fulfilling.
If you want to know more about the research that my lab
group does, please visit our website. (http://research.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/emotionalcognitionlab/)
If you are interested in studying psychology, you can read
more about the University of Manchester’s BSc Psychology here. (http://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2017/00653/bsc-psychology/)
If you want to read more about psychological research in an
accessible way I would recommend checking out Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/)
and the science blogs from the Guardian for scientific research in general (https://www.theguardian.com/science/series/science-blog-network)
My name is Sascha Stollhans and I’m
a PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Manchester. Linguistics is
the scientific study of language and an incredibly versatile and
interdisciplinary subject. Linguists look at all sorts of things related to language,
e. g. the structure and sounds of language, how language is represented in the
mind, how similar or different languages are, how we use language to express
our thoughts, feelings and opinions, or even to insult people, why we talk
differently depending on who we are talking to, and so on.
My research investigates the
acquisition of foreign languages, in particular how the languages we know
interact with and influence one another.
At school I always enjoyed foreign
languages the most. That’s why I decided to study Linguistics and French at
University, followed by a Master’s degree in Language Teaching. I like to
discover how languages work, how we learn them and what successful language
teaching should be like.
Being a great enthusiast of
languages, I’ve always found it unfair that children learn their first language
so effortlessly. Why can something so natural turn into rather hard work when
we are older? What can we do to make language learning as effective and
enjoyable as possible? It was my interest in questions like these that made me
choose to become a linguist and language teacher.
After a few years working as a
language teacher, I came to Manchester to take up my PhD in Linguistics. My
study explores how previously acquired languages influence the process of
learning a new language.
Specifically, I work with English
learners of French and German. With the help of a number of experiments, my aim
is to shed some light on the way several languages in our mind might influence
For example, I am trying to find
out if the fact that someone speaks French makes a difference when they start
learning German. Could the additional language make it easier for them, or
might it in fact be a hindrance?
In order to investigate this, I
will conduct a number of experiments with language learners. For instance, I
will do an eye-tracking study, which looks at the way our eyes move while we
process sentences in a foreign language. Comparing the eye movements of native
speakers with those of language learners can tell us a lot about the struggles
languages learners have.
The results of my study will
hopefully provide some explanations and help make language teaching and learning
easier and more effective. They might help us explain why language learners
find certain aspects of the language more difficult than others, and how we
could make sure language teaching is more effective.
What I enjoy most about my PhD is
that I can combine the scientific study of language with very relevant real-life
problems. I’m using theoretical considerations about language and the results
of my research study to tackle real problems. And in doing so, I learn
something new every day - be it a new fact about language or a new method.
“What is Linguistics?”: a great
introduction to linguistics by the Linguistic Society of America
“What do you start with in a Third
Language?”: very interesting YouTube video introducing the linguistics research
about people who learn more than one foreign language
Multilingual Manchester: a project
investigating the over 200 languages that are spoken in Manchester
About eye-tracking as a scientific
Some interesting language-related
The Linguistics department at
Hey, my name is Farah Farzana and I am a
medical student at the University of Manchester. Last year after I completed my
third year, I decided to take a year out of medicine to do a Masters in
Research degree in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. This is known as an intercalated degree, that
many medics opt to do if they have further interests in research or any subject
in general. After completing this
Masters, I will go back to medical school to complete my final remaining two
years and hopefully graduate and become a doctor.
I never imagined or really anticipated
during the first few years of Medicine, that I have any interest in research.
To be honest, I was always scared by the prospect of going into research and
imagined it to be pretty intense and hard. However during my third year I
started becoming more interested in regenerative medicine, especially cell
based therapies and the potential of regenerating tissues. The growing area of
research that focuses of regenerating damaged organs or tissues, so in effect
you are giving them a new life every time they are damaged intrigued me. So I
decided to look into regenerating the structures within our spines known as the
What is the intervertebral disc and how does it cause back pain?
The intervertebral discs are structures that make up our spine,
and helps in overall mobility. With progressive age the spine goes through
trauma and increase pressure due to many factors such as obesity, because of
which these discs slowly starts to breakdown gradually. This causes severe pain
and discomfort for suffers and is known to be one of the major causes of back
pain. The pain occurs mainly because the discs are no longer mobile enough to
support our range of movements, such as twisting and turning or even sitting
which puts pressure on our spine. It is estimated
that approximately 60-80% of people will at some point in their lifetime
experience back pain. Despite the condition not being life threatening, it
imposes a huge economic burden on our health care system, as well as being one
of the foremost causes of disability due to chronic pain between the ages of 45
and 65 worldwide. Current treatments are costly and only offers
symptomatic relief for the patients and most treatment available are a
temporary fix to the underlying problem. Therefore research is now focussing on
understanding the disease process itself of why the breakdown of the discs
occurs and what cells are involved in such disease. Identifying the exact cells
involved in the process that leads to breakdown of the discs will allow
researchers to target such cells and stop them from causing the breakdown.
What does my research focus on?
Researchers have discovered that some cells act to maintain the
discs health, which can be also targeted to restore the damaged disc. My research
is looking to find out more about the types of cells present within the
innermost layer of the disc. Some cells within this layer of the disc have the
ability to stimulate rejuvenation of the damaged disc, when given signals.
These findings of how these cells function and what signals they need to
remodel the damaged disc will further guide upcoming research that will look at
developing treatments by manipulating such cells to regenerate the discs. Such
treatments will target the underlying disease itself in order to give patients suffering
from back pain a permanent cure to back pain caused with progressive age. Such
discovery in the future can even lead to developing treatments that can
potentially cure back pain forever and change millions of lives.
I made a video on studying medicine and how it is like to be a
medical student, if you would like to have a look:
This research is a hot topic now and we even managed to somehow
feature on the daily mail a few years back!
Feature on medical news today about future and techniques of
regenerating the spine:
Interested in studying medicine here is a good website to look at:
Interested in becoming a scientist? Look
at this website for a step by step explanation:
A detailed scientific paper explaining disc
degeneration and processes of regeneration:
My name is
Hashir Kiani and I am a PhD researcher at the School of Computer Science. My
research is titled “Wireless Sensor Networks in Smart Grids”. I work on
designing algorithms which can be used to make an electrical grid smarter by
analysing the data collected from the grid through wireless sensors. These
algorithms are used to detect faults in the grid and then employ appropriate
measures to prevent those faults. The end goal of my research is to develop
methods for a more efficient and smart electricity network.
I did my Bachelors in Electrical
Engineering from National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan.
After my bachelor’s degree I was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study
for a Master’s degree in Communications Engineering and Networks from the UK.
The main motivation behind going for a PhD after the completion of my Master’s
course was the worsening situation with respect to electricity generation and
distribution in my home country, Pakistan. Pakistan is facing a huge shortage
of electricity and people have to go without electricity for multiple hours
each day. The situation worsens in the summers as demand for electricity peaks due
to cooling requirements as temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius. According to a report by USAID,
Pakistan has suffered a loss of 10% of its GDP due to power shortage. The long
power outages have caused great distress to the public with people resorting to
rioting on a number of occasions. The distribution losses are above 20% which
is more than double the global average. Therefore if distribution losses are
brought down close to the global average Pakistan can solve its energy crisis.
The main objective of my
research on smart grid systems is to find ways to make the electrical grid more
efficient and thus considerably reduce the distribution losses. My research is
focused on using wireless sensor networks in order to monitor the electrical
grid so that timely decisions can be made to increase the efficiency,
reliability and robustness of the grid network. Therefore my research will be
very helpful in solving the energy crisis Pakistan is currently facing.
After completion of my PhD I
have plans to work at a reputable engineering university of Pakistan as an
academic and a researcher. One of my objectives would be to introduce a course
on smart grid technologies at the MS level and develop interest among the
students in this area. I will use the knowledge I gained during my research to
form a research group responsible for doing high quality research in the field
of smart grid systems. The research group would strive to work in partnership
with national bodies and distribution companies to facilitate the transition
towards a smart electrical grid which will not only be efficient but also cost
effective as it will be able to detect electricity theft and thus prevent losses
of millions of dollars each year.
Further information about smart
grid technologies can be found at the following links:
https://www.smartgrid.gov/ : A good resource on information about smart
: Details the smart grid initiatives taken by the European Union
: A cool video showing Britain’s future version of smart grids
: A link to my research group (Machine learning) at the University of