My name is Craig Morrison and I
am a 2nd year PhD student in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace
and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. My research is linked to
the nuclear industry, using computers to try and simulate what happens to
materials in the extreme environment in a nuclear reactor.
In Depth I enjoyed STEM subjects throughout
school and studied for A levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Geography.
I considered applying to study Physics at university but was unsure of the jobs
on offer after graduation. I was advised that for those who are curious about
science and maths but still have an eye for practical problems, maybe stemming
from a childhood love of Lego or Meccano, studying engineering can be a good
alternative to a pure science at university. So I decided engineering was for me
and went to the University of Sheffield to study for a degree in Mechanical
For those who don’t know, engineering is the
practical application of science to real world problems. Albert Einstein was
once quoted as saying; ‘Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers
create that which has never been’. Essentially the science taught at school and
university explores the world around us, developing equations and theories to
explain why things behave the way they do. Engineering takes the principles developed by
scientists and uses them to design and create the man-made world we live in.
Engineers are tasked with solving a
wide range of problems, often with significant time, resource and financial
constraints. New challenges evolve with the world around us ensuring that the
learning and self-improvement never stops. How do we supply food, water and
clean energy to a global population that is expected to hit 9 billion by 2040?
Where will these people live? How do we combat the effects of global warming?
These issues make for scary reading, but provide the fuel from which engineers
Different branches of
engineering exist to cope with the different problems encountered in everyday
life. The house you live in and the bridges you drive over were designed by
civil engineers. The car or train you travel in were designed by a mechanical
engineer to get you there quickly and safely whilst using as little fuel as
possible. Aerospace engineers create the planes which fly over huge distances
to take you go on holiday. And that’s not mentioning electrical/electronic,
materials, manufacturing, bio-engineering or the multiple other engineering
disciplines fields that have emerged.
In many engineering industries a
skills shortage is imminent as large chunks of the workforce approach
retirement age ensuring engineering graduates and apprentices are in high
demand. Furthermore, the team working, communication and problem solving skills
are sought by other industries as well – business, accounting and finance in
particular – a reassuring thought for those interested in the subject but
unsure as to whether engineering is their preferred long term career choice.
general rule, to study an engineering based course at University will require
an A level in Maths alongside a science depending on the branch which you wish
to study, e.g. Physics will be needed for Mechanical engineering, chemistry for
Chemical engineering, biology for Bioengineering.
Make no mistake an engineering degree
can be difficult and challenging but in terms of employability and job
satisfaction it remains one of the best degrees you can study. There is also a
fun side with societies where students can design and build a racing car
(formula student), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV society) or experience
piloting and aircraft design (Flight Simulator Society). Whether you want to design
rollercoasters, become an astronaut or improve our future by solving some of
the biggest issues faced by the world today, an engineering degree could be
your first step to an exciting, varied and satisfying career.
Find out more about engineering
at the University of Manchester here: http://www.mace.manchester.ac.uk/
You can find out more about
engineering in general and the careers on offer here: http://www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/
You can find out more about student
societies in MACE here: http://www.mace.manchester.ac.uk/study/student-experience/studentsocieties/
If someone had asked me at the start of my final year of my
undergraduate degree, ‘do you fancy doing a PhD when you finish uni?’ my answer
would have been an outright NO! Yet, here I am, now in my second year of my PhD
in the role of exercise on cardiovascular disease risk in psoriasis. So what changed my mind? Well, it was only
when I entered my final year of my undergraduate degree that I actually started
to seriously consider my career options. My undergraduate degree was in
Biomedical Sciences and I wanted to find out what I could do with my degree
(aside from the obvious career pathways like Biomedical Scientist or scientific
So, after hours of trawling the internet, numerous career
appointments and countless chats with my academic tutors I had a much clearer
idea of what was out there. However, despite all this time and effort I
invested into researching potential future careers I still wasn’t 100% sure.
Although, I particularly liked the idea of becoming a medical writer because
writing is something I like doing and something that I enjoy. Also I had a lot
of time for my subject area as I found it interesting and enjoyed learning
about various aspects of science.
Another thing which interested me was intellectual property,
which was first brought to my attention in one of my pharmacology lectures. I
soon learned that I could become a patent attorney. The more I read about this
area of work, the more it appealed to me. This career path is an opportunity to
merge law and science. Naturally, because I don’t have a background in law
(like the vast majority of patent attorneys according to my research) this
career requires you to undertake training and sit examinations. This is
something which doesn’t really bother me too much (after all I’ve already spent
years doing it and a couple more won’t hurt!). Anyway, after reading up on
what’s required for this type of career I found that a PhD is ‘preferable.’ Now
I know this doesn’t mean a PhD is essential, however, I thought whether I
decide to go into medical writing or become a patent attorney, either way a PhD
will stand me in good stead.
So that’s when I took the plunge and began searching for a
PhD. I had a specific criterion already in mind in terms of what I wanted from
a PhD. The things I knew for sure was: a) I wanted to stay at the University of
Manchester, b) I wanted a PhD with a studentship so I didn’t have to worry
about funds for the next 3 or 4 years and c) I didn’t want a PhD that was
solely lab-based (I didn’t mind a bit of lab work but I hated being in the lab
for hours on end!). So with all this in mind I started looking at what was on
offer and began to pick out projects which captured my interest.
Eventually, I decided to apply for two PhD projects. I
realise this doesn’t sound like a lot but the way I saw it was a PhD is a huge
commitment and I wanted to be sure that my chosen project was something I was
interested in and something I wanted to dedicate my time and effort to. And so
for this reason I was very selective in terms of my applications for PhD
projects. Something else which really helped me decide on which projects I
wanted to submit applications to was going and actually talking to the
supervisors about the project and what exactly I would be doing as a PhD
student on their project.
So… out of the two applications I submitted I was invited
for interview for one of the projects along with two other candidates. The
supervisor requested that each candidate put together a presentation covering
various topics including: why did we want to do a PhD, why did we want to do a
PhD in Manchester and why did we want this specific project. Each candidate was
also sent a copy of the research proposal which we were asked to read and
comment on in our presentations. We had to say how we would structure our
approach/time to the work outlined in the proposal and also comment on how we
would perhaps improve the proposal and what other ideas we had.
The interview itself was, as you can imagine, nerve-wracking
and very stressful! However, it was a valuable experience. There were five
interviewers on the panel, three of which were my potential supervisors.
Personally, I found the interview particularly stressful as I was up against
two other candidates who both had a Master’s degree along with other research
experience, whereas I had just come to the end of my undergraduate degree and
was expected to achieve a 2.1.
Anyway, after the stress of my final exams and the PhD
interview I found out (just a few days after the interview) that I had been
awarded the position on the PhD programme. Naturally, I was over the moon and
accepted the place on the programme! Now here I am in my second year of my PhD
and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience so far.
Find out about studying Biomedical Science at the University of Manchester here. This blog was originally posted on the University of Manchester careers blog, which can be found here. You can find more information about careers in Biomedical Science here and here.
my name is Lauren and I am a second year PhD student at The University of
Manchester. I was lucky enough to be selected for the NowNANO DTC programme. A
DTC (Doctoral Training Centre) programme is essentially a PhD and the NowNANO
DTC is a programme that specialises in Nanoscience. For those that don’t know
what Nanoscience is, it is science on a very very small scale – 10-9
m to be exact, that’s 1 million times smaller than a millimetre!
particular area of research looks at the molecular interactions in organic
crystals. Organic crystals are crystals that are made up of carbon atoms. My
focus is on hydrogen bonding behaviour in these crystals. One of the main uses
of these types of crystals is in Pharmaceutical tablets. The molecular
interactions in the crystals are what determine the properties of the crystal
and therefore how well the drugs work.
In order to get where I am now, I studied Maths,
Chemistry and Physics at A level. At the time, my plan was to become an engineer
and work on renewable energy. I studied for 4 years to get my master’s degree
in “Chemical Engineering with Environmental Technology”. In between my 3rd
and 4th year at university, I decided to see how much I enjoyed
Chemical Engineering by doing a 3 month placement with the Pharmaceutical
company Eli Lilly and Co. My job was to look at all of the water that was used
on site and try to find ways to reduce their water consumption. The project was
interesting and very challenging but for me it didn’t seem to fit my
For the degree that I was doing I was required to
complete a research project in my 4th year in order to get my
masters. As soon as I started this project I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I
spent a lot more time on my project than my friends did. I found myself reading
about the research in my spare time. I was very fortunate to find a project
that I enjoyed so much. My project was more chemistry and physics based rather
than engineering and I felt that this suited me better. When it came to the end
of the year and everyone else I knew was applying for jobs, I decided to apply
for a PhD instead. And the rest, as they say, is history!
research that I am working on now uses soft X-rays to look at molecular
interaction in organic (carbon based) crystals. This has a particular relevance
to the pharmaceutical industry as almost half of all pharmaceuticals are
administered as tablets. The actual ‘drug’ part of the tablet is almost always
an organic crystal. Learning more about these molecules helps the
pharmaceutical companies to decide things such as; how much drug should be in
the tablet, how quickly it will dissolve and how effectively it will spread
through the body.
like my research, firstly because I simply enjoy finding out new information.
Though, I particularly enjoy my research because I feel like I am making a
contribution to society and in a small way, helping other people. My research
is fairly fundamental, this means that it is all about the pure science. I am a
few steps removed from the practical applications of drug delivery. However,
the scientists that are working on the drugs need to know about their science,
which makes me feel like what I am doing is important, however small my
contribution may be.
Click here for more information about the
course Chemical Engineering with Environmental Technology.
information on Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science can be found here.
my spare time I am also a STEM ambassador. STEM is an organisation that aims to
promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
If you wish to find out more about the various jobs and carers that are
available through these subjects then have a look at this site.
you have been interested in my work then all of the information about my
research can be found on my research page.
pages you may find interesting that are related to my work include:
1. I work with
X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). For those of you who want a challenge
have a look at how it works, you can find more information here.
2. What is a drug? Find out here.
Dunham, and I’m currently in the third year of my PhD research in Biomedical Science.
After completing my GCSEs (many moons ago!), I went to college to study Biology,
Psychology, Sport Science (A-levels) and Maths and Chemistry (AS-levels). At
the time I thought I wanted to do Medicine, but changed my mind to continue
into research. I got a place studying a straight Biology degree at Cardiff
University. Throughout the course, I went on field courses to Tobago, and worked
for a leading pharmaceutical company (AstraZeneca) and contributed to a
published study. Upon graduating from Cardiff University, I started on my PhD
research at the University of Manchester. My work here focusses on
understanding how growth hormone, present in all humans, is regulated and how
changes may contribute to differences seen between individuals.
does it matter that we understand the differences? Whilst “variation is the
spice of life”, we like these variations to be within a ‘normal limit’. Growth
hormone (as the name suggests) controls growth and development in all mammals,
and is the main cause for the variation in our heights and sizes. Some people
make more of it, and others make less…
however, the regulation fails from keeping growth hormone at a ‘normal’ level,
and unfortunately this can result in disease. For example, misregulation may
cause cancer, acromegaly and growth hormone deficiency. Whilst some of the
characteristics of these are noticeable as being much taller or shorter, other more
detrimental symptoms are also caused. These include joint pain, limited vision,
headaches, increased fat mass, decreased bone density and even death.
I am aiming to
identify the ‘normal’ patterns of the growth hormone gene. This gene in humans
is unique to any other mammals as it has vital components allowing for
stringent control. I look at single cells under a powerful microscope to
observe these patterns. To make this possible, I have added a section into the
growth hormone gene which makes it glow when it is present. That way, when
growth hormone is being made in the cell it brightens up, and then goes dull
when production stops. Each blob is a cell in a dish with my modified growth hormone
gene in. Measuring the time, frequency and intensity of these events will allow
me to identify ‘normal levels’ which can then be compared to different
my Biology BSc and my PhD, I have learnt so many theoretical and practical
skills within the laboratory. I regularly use high-tech microscopes, manipulate
genes and apply a number of analytical tests. Working with some of the newest
technology in a lab with people from different places and backgrounds to understand
something nobody else yet knows is extremely rewarding, and I now have skills
which can be transferred to many different research areas and jobs.
Going FurtherFound out about studying Biology
at the University of Manchester here.
For a link to the medical and
human sciences page go here and you can find all the research done at University of Manchester.
And here you can find the
research done specifically looking at human development.
For a great video which explains
genetics and variation go here.
Our ‘Undergraduate Research’ section will provide an insight into research conducted at an undergraduate level and feature case studies of undergraduate researchers at the University of Manchester.
Hello! My name
is Susie Jones, and I graduated from The University of Manchester in 2013 with
a joint honours degree in English Language and Chinese.
The topics I
studied in English were very different from those studied in 6th
form – there was a greater focus on linguistics (the scientific study of
language). Although different, I found it really interesting and decided to
focus my studies on language variation in my final year. I was interested in
how and why certain groups of people speak differently, whether these
differences have changed over time and across space, and whether they have an
impact on people’s attitudes towards language.
As for the
Chinese side of my course, I started studying it from scratch and my year abroad
in China inspired me to find out more about the language and how it works.
Although writing a research dissertation wasn’t a compulsory element of my
course, I felt it would be a good way to get a deeper understanding of the
language I was learning and develop a range of skills.
My researchWhile I was in
China, I noticed that people often used different words for the same thing. Not
a particularly strange phenomenon (this occurs frequently in English too), but
I found it odd that in Chinese, some of these would sound quite similar to
English. For instance, a bus would sometimes be called ‘gong-gong-chee-chur’
but could also be called ‘ba-suh’, which is obviously inspired by the English
There are lots
of examples of these two languages ‘borrowing’ from each. Did you know, the
saying “long time no see” is actually taken from Chinese? It’s a result of language contact as the world becomes
smaller and people have become more geographically mobile.
So I set about
putting together a questionnaire to test whether Chinese speakers in China were
more likely to use an ‘Englishised’ version of a word (one that sounds similar
to English), or an indigenous equivalent (one that is originally made from
Chinese sounds). My supervisor (a specialist
in language variation and change) helped me design a questionnaire to test the words that speakers would use,
which included naming pictures, filling in gaps and judging the acceptability
of sentences containing ‘Englishised’ words.
was sent to 72 Chinese speakers in China who were of a range of different ages,
came from different areas of China and had varying levels of education. This
way, I would be able to see whether these three variables would have an effect
on the words that they chose.
Before doing the
research, I had predicted that a speaker’s age, location and level of education
would have an impact on whether they chose a more ‘Englishised’ word or not. However,
my results showed that these factors didn’t have much of a bearing on their
linguistic choices. Rather, speakers were more sensitive to the deeper
linguistic characteristics of the word itself (the number of syllables or
location of stress for example). With further research, these types of findings
could have a significant impact on the work of translators, dictionary writers
and those who work on language policy.
influence of English in mainland China has not been as extensive as it has been
in other Chinese speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, which have been
historically more open to the rest of the world. It’s a nice example of how
socio-political circumstance can have an impact on the way we speak and
demonstrates how language is intrinsically connected with the way the world
time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as
strange - you're just used to it.
Going furtherFor more information about the
English Language and Linguistics courses at the University of Manchester, click here.
For information about languages at the University of Manchester, click here.
Mandarin Chinese isn’t as
difficult as you might think! Find out why here.
There are many reasons to study languages - find out why here.