PhD Student Interviews

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.

Current Students

Annabel Farnood Profile

Annabel Farnood

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.

DiscoverPhDs_Aaron Jones_Profile

Aaron Jones

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 Sampson Profile

Chris Sampson

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 Mendrik Profile

Freija Mendrik

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 Brewster Profile

Ellen Brewster

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 Shearer_Profile

Daisy Shearer

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 Ravey

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 Cliffe Profile

Bethany Cliffe

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 Casey

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.

DiscoverPhDs Maria_Sharif_Profile

Maria Sharif

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 Raynes

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 Lewis

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 Proctor

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 González Díaz Profile

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.

Danny Ward Profile

Danny Ward

Danny is a third year PhD student at the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia, working with Pseudomonas bacteria to understand how they infect their hosts.

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Helena Bates

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 Hall

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 Gaina

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 Hernandez Profile

Daniel Hernandez

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 Hurer Profile

Ellie Hurer

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 Ballou

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 Javanshir Profile

Ryan Javanshir

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 Tucker

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.

Sammy Chapman Profile

Sammy Chapman

Sammy is a second year PhD student at Cardiff Metropolitan University researching how secondary school teachers can meet the demands of the Digital Competence Framework.

Eleni Routoula Profile

Eleni Routoula

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.

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Alex Fitzpatrick

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.


Kai Arulkumaran

Kai is a PhD student at Imperial College London. His research centres around sample efficiency, transfer learning and interpretability for deep reinforcement learning.​


Christian Nathan

Christian is a PhD student at the University of Leeds. His research project investigatores the role of the molecular clock in sympathetic preganglionic neurons.

Carina Nicu Profile Picture

Carina Nicu

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 Rose Profile Picture

Sam Rose

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.

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 Sam Rowe

Dr Rowe gained his PhD in the fields of Chemistry and Biological Sciences from the University of East Anglia in 2018. He is now a project coordinator for Norwich Science Festival and also for Pint of Science in Norwich.


Dr Joe Manning

Dr Manning gained his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sheffield in 2019. He is now a postdoc researcher studying molecular simulations on nanomaterials at the University of Bath.


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.

Carolyn Mair_Profile

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.

Rowan Hooper Profile

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.

Debby Cotton_Profile

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.

Nikolay Nikolov Profile

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.

Dr Emily Roberts-DiscoverPhDs

Dr Emily Roberts

Dr Roberts gained her PhD from Duke University in 2014 in the field of biomedical engineering. She now runs her own business named Personal Finance for PhDs.

PhD Advice

Gain valuable insight from our collection of exclusive interviews with both current and past PhD students. Learn from their best advice, personal challenges and career path after completing their doctorate.

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