PhD Experience 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 PhD Students

Clara Inés Alcolado Olivares

Clara is in the first year of her PhD at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain. Her research is based around understanding the reactivity of peroxynitrite with organic compounds such as commonly used drugs, food preservatives, or components of atmospheric aerosols.

Akshay Deoras

Akshay Deoras

Akshay is in the final year of his PhD researching how well models can predict Indian monsoon low-pressure systems. The results of his research will help improve disaster preparedness and long-term planning.

Frances Boreham

Frances recently completed her PhD at the University of Bristol. Her research investigated the causes and consequences of hazardous lava-water interactions.

Nidhi Menon

Nidhi is a PhD student at Virginia Tech, focused on developing an engineered platform to study the breast tumor microenvironment, for diagnostic and prognostic purposes.

Priya Pollard

Priya’s a 1st year PhD student University College Dublin. Her project involves investigating a novel seaweed-ensiling process as an alternative to drying to preserve seaweeds nutritional and monetary value.

Nina Higson-Sweeney

Nina’s in the first year of her PhD in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. Her project is focused on furthering our understanding of fatigue within adolescent depression.

Freya I. Addison

Freya’s in the final year of her PhD at the University of Leeds. Her project is about improving the precision of observations between collocated ground-based weather radar and airborne platforms.

Helena Hartmann

Helena is pursuing a PhD at the University of Vienna. Her research is centred around how we perceive, understand and share the suffering of other people around us, aka empathy for pain.

Calvin Swords

Calvin is coming to the end of the second year of his PhD at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research is focussed on how recovery as a concept is socially constructed in mental health services.

Henry Powell-Davies

Henry is in the first year of his PhD in the Cronin Group at the University of Glasgow. His research is based on the automation, optimisation, discovery and design of ontologies for robotic chemistry.

Abdullah-Al-Zubaer Imran

Abdullah recently finished his PhD at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His computer science research developed deep learning-based algorithms for medical image analysis.

Nathan Mistry

Nathan is about to enter the 2nd year of his PhD at the University of Hertfordshire. His research looks at how lifestyle stresses can impact skin barrier biophysics and skin barrier and oral cavity biochemistry and microbiology.

Jay Dave

Jay is in the third year of his PhD at Savitribai Phule Pune University, researching the applications of mesenchymal stem cells and nanocarrier for bone tissue engineering.

Islam Khan

Islam is in the final year of his Physics PhD program at Washington State University in the field of particle cosmology. His research is on the Possible Connections Between Inflaton and Dark Energy Within An Oscillating Reheating Framework.

Guy Cameron

Guy is in the 3rd and final year of his PhD in Immunology and Microbiology at The University of Newcastle, Australia. His research primarily focuses on investigating roles of our immune system outside of the typical pathogen surveillance.

De-Shaine Murray

De-Shaine is 2nd Year Neurotechnology PhD Student at Imperial College London. His research looks at monitoring the brain when it’s severely injured after a traumatic brain injury or stroke and patients are in neurocritical care.

Elpida Vounzoulaki

Elpida is about to start her third year of PhD research at the University of Leicester. Her research focuses on preventing type 2 diabetes in women who had gestational diabetes, and she an active STEM Ambassador.

Emmanuel Junior Zuza

Emmanuel is a year and half into his PhD at The Open University School of Ecosystems, Earth and Environmental Studies. His research is on understand the influence of environmental and social factors on smallholder macadamia production.

Christine Streeter

Christine is entering the 4th year of her PhD Carleton University, researching worker’s experiences of the changing conditions in the Non Profit and Social Service sector, pre and during COVID-19.

Jad Mahmoud Halabi

Jad is a 4th year PhD student at New York University Abu Dhabi/ New York. His project is title Smart Molecular Crystals: From Synthesis to Applications and has a particular interest in science communication.

Rakhi Vishwakarma

Rakhi is a PhD student at the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India. Her research is on the production of Borneol and Menthol and development of separation process from the reaction mixture.

Sara Abedi

Sara is currently in the 4th year of the Physics Doctoral Program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research investigates quantum transport properties of 2D electron systems.

Kamalpreet Singh

Kamal is a second year PhD student University of Toronto in the department of Chemistry. His research is focused on making hydrogen gas more affordable and easier to generate from water to use as a clean energy source.

Noelia Dominguez Falcon

Noelia is just two months away from submitting her PhD thesis at the University of East Anglia. Her research focuses on the application and the study of novel tissue engineering strategies for tendon repair, aiming to overcome some limitations from current therapies.

Harneet Sangha

Harneet’s heading into the fourth year of her PhD at the University of Leicester. Her research looks at the electrical currents in the Earth’s magnetosphere: how they change with time, and under different conditions.

Adam Netzer Zimmer

Adam’s about to start his fifth year of PhD research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he’s earning a doctorate in anthropology as an affiliated researcher with the University of Iceland’s medical school.

Charlene N. Rivera Bonet

Charlene is a 5th year PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She studies depression and neuroticism in people with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) using MR Imaging and behavioural tests.

Fabian van den Berg_Profile

Fabian van den Berg

Fabian’s in the final year of his PhD research at Maastricht University. His project is about how humans learn numbers and how hands might help that process; this is especially useful for children developing their maths skills.

Gabrielle Huizinga

Gabrielle’s a 2nd year Immunology PhD student at the University of Michigan. Her research focus on the complications of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the clearance of respiratory bacterial infections.

Lewis Bridgeman

Lewis is a third-year PhD student at CVSSP at the University of Surrey. His research involves using multi-camera broadcast footage of sports, and using this data to create new viewpoints in virtual and augmented reality.

Pei Qin (Sabrina) Ng

Sabrina’s in the third year of her PhD at The University of Adelaide. Her esearch combines molecular techniques, data analysis, and next generation sequencing to investigate modifications on RNAs in plants.

Kat Ross

Kat is in the second year of her PhD at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia (WA). Her research involves studying supermassive black holes at the centres of distant galaxies.

Pavan Bagri

Pavan’s nearing completion of her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at the University of Toronto, whilst also working 4 days/week as a Clinical Pharmacist across 3 hospital sites in the Greater Toronto Area.

Elmira Vagapova

Elmira is in the third year of her PhD program at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology; Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, researching the mechanisms of acute myeloid leukemia cells resistance to targeted therapy.

Kyle Morgenstein

Kyle’s in the first year of his PhD at the University of Texas in Austin. His research interests are in the development of algorithms for advanced mobility for legged robotics and computer vision for exploration of extreme environments.

Julia Di

Julia is entering the third year of a combined master’s and PhD program at Stanford University. Her research explores how to give robots the sense of touch to make them more useful for tasks such as dexterous manipulation.

Michele Ponzelli

Michele is a first-year PhD candidate in a double degree program between the University of Girona (Spain) & Technical University Munich (Germany). His research has the aim of innovating water treatment technologies.

Rose Waugh

Rose is a final year PhD student at the University of St Andrews. Her research is focussed on modelling stars similar to the sun in its youth and understanding better the magnetic fields of these stars.

Emma Strand

Emma is a third year PhD student at the University of Rhode Island. Her research focuses on the physiological and genomic response to climate change stressors.

Bijou Basu_Profile

Bijou Basu

Bijou is a second year MD-PhD candidate, starting her second year of medical school. At the end of this academic year she’ll transition into doing a genetics PhD full time at Case Western Reserve University.

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.

DiscoverPhDs_Student Profiles_Alex

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 Malika Grayson

Dr Grayson gained her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 2016. She now works in industry as an Applications Portfolio Manager and is a STEM Speaker and Advocate.

Dr Kirell Benzi

Dr Benzi gained his PhD in Data Science from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 2016. He is now a professional data artist and head of research at a tech company in Paris, as well as a trained public speaker.

Dr Sunni Patel

Dr Patel gained his PhD in 2011 from Aston University, researching risk factors & systemic biomarkers for Type II diabetes & cardiovascular disease. He is currently a business director at a large global pharmaceutical.

Dr Chris Pattison

Dr Pattison gained his PhD in Cosmology from the University of Portsmouth. He is now finishing a short term post-doc within the same research group and developing a career in science communication and science education.

Dr Nafisa M. Jadavji

Dr Jadavji completed her PhD in Medical Genetics & Neuroscience from McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 2012. She is now an assistant professor involved in a mix of research, teaching and service projects.

Dr John Young

Dr Young gained his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge. He is now a a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, Deputy Director for the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences and more!

Dr Asher Williams

Dr Williams gained her PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York in 2020. She is now a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, researching simplifying vaccine manufacturing in low-income countries.

Dr Sherran Clarence

Dr Clarence gained her PhD in Higher Education Studies from Rhodes University, South Africa in 2013. She is now an honorary research associate at the University and also runs her own blog about working as a researcher/parent in academia.

Dr Gita Pathak

Dr Pathak gained her PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2019. She is now a Postdoctoral Associate training in psychiatric genetics at the Yale School of Medicine.

Dr Khalil Thirlaway

Dr Thirlaway gained his PhD in immunology from the University of Nottingham in 2018. He is now a Science Communicator at the Natural History Museum, London.

Dr Michael Norman

Dr Norman gained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of East Anglia in 2018. He is now the Public Engagement Officer at the Babraham Institute.

Dr Tahira Anwar

Dr Anwar gained her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Helsinki in 2019. She is now pursuing a career within industry and becoming more active in science outreach.

Dr Adani Pujada

Dr Pujada obtained her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at Georgia State University in 2019. She is now a biomedical faculty member, mentor, and science communicator with a particular interest in promoting STEM education.

Dr Jerelle A Joseph

Dr Joseph gained her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in 2018 and is now a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Physics at the University. Her research is on better understanding how cells organises its contents via the process of liquid-liquid phase separation.

Dr Omotayo Ilesanmi

Dr Ilesanmi has a PhD in Applied Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. He is now a lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at the Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.

Dr Amy Easey

Dr Easey has a PhD from the University of East Anglia where she genetically modified viral ligase enzymes for industry. She is now a biomedical scientist working in the Haematopathology and Oncology Diagnostic Service at Addenbrookes hospital.

Dr Vanessa Cesário

Dr Cesário has a PhD in Digital Media from the University of Porto. She’s now pursuing an academic career as a Postdoc in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) as part of an EU project. She’s also aiming to teach in subjects including User-Centered Design and Interactive Media Design.

Dr Jonathan D. Morrow

Dr Morrow gained his MD-PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. He now splits his time between providing clinical care to patients through the University of Michigan and research relevant to addiction and several other psychiatric disorders.

Dr Zoë Ayres

Dr Ayres completed her PhD at the University of Warwick in 2017, researching the use of diamond to make electrochemical sensors. She is now a research scientists in the water industry, developing different analytical techniques and sensors to help keep our water systems safe.

Dr Theanne Griffith

Dr Griffith gained her PhD in Neuroscience from Northwestern University in 2015. She is now a neuroscientist and children’s book author and will be opening her own lab in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the University of California Davis later this year (2020).

Dr Laura Tuohilampi

Dr Tuohilampi gained her PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of Helsinki in 2016. She is now a lecturer at the University of Helsinki, a Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Sydney and has also founded the company Math Hunger.

Prof Ramesh Raghupathi

Prof Raghupathi gained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1991. He is now a professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Dr Ipsa Jain

Dr Jain gained her PhD in Molecular Oncology from the Indian Institute of Science. She is now a science illustrator and communicator, and works with to initiate conversations around sci-art and women in science.

Dr Harry Hothi

Dr Hothi gained his PhD in Orthopaedic Engineering from Queen Mary University of London in 2012. He is now the Implant Science Fellow at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, researching how to improve knee, hip and spine implants.

Dr Bishnu Karki

Dr Karki gained his PhD in the field of Nuclear and Particle Physics from Ohio University in March 2020. He is currently working as a postdoctoral associate in Prof. Haiyan Gao’s research group in Duke University.

Kat Day

Dr Kat Day

Dr Day gained her PhD Physical Chemistry at the University of Nottingham in 2000. She is now a Science & Fiction writer, an Associate Editor at and runs the blog ‘The Chronicle Flask’ about all things chemistry.

profile picture - Amit Kumar Singh

Dr Amit Kumar Singh

Dr Singh earned his PhD in Nanotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), India in 2018. He is now a Senior Research Fellow developing low cost and biocompatible micro/nanomotors for anti-cancer therapy.


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.

Prof Carolyn Mair

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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