Hi everyone! My name is Nathan and I’m about to go into my 2nd year of my PhD at the University of Hertfordshire. I’m on an industrial partnership PhD programme working in collaboration with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). I’m interested in how lifestyle stresses can impact skin barrier biophysics and skin barrier and oral cavity biochemistry and microbiology. We will explore this by carrying out mechanistic in vivo studies in humans with the overall goal of providing a fundamental understanding of how skin barrier and oral cavity health may be challenged by particular lifestyle stresses.
My typical workday starts at 7:30am and finishes around 5:30pm. I prefer starting earlier in the morning as I’m far more productive and shared workspaces tend to be quieter. My typical week currently is spent at my computer planning my experiments and writing up ethics to carry out human studies. However, each week can vary and in the coming months more time will be spent running experiments in the laboratory, data collecting for the human studies and subsequently analysing samples in the laboratory. I try not to work on weekends as I tend to work longer hours during the week, and I feel it’s important to have time away from work. If I do work on a weekend this will tend to be more casual and I will just do a couple hours to get some things set for the coming week.
Seeing my research plan develop! It started with a broad research area and multiple directions that the PhD could go. Now, my research questions are defined, I have a good grasp on the current literature, I have planned my methodology for my first human study, my ethics is near completion and I am planning a series of initial experiments to conduct in the laboratory. Satisfying feeling of progression!
Starting a PhD in a research area I was not that familiar with was definitely a challenge to begin with. However, help and guidance from my supervisors, many hours reading and writing a literature review was really useful and I now have a good grasp on my research area that I am genuinely interested in.
As a researcher I have found it is a really friendly and supportive environment. It has great facilities and brand-new science building. The academic and research staff are helpful and supportive. The University of Hertfordshire also provides great opportunities for prospective researchers for collaborating and working with external industry partners. Overall, I have had a very positive experience so far!
I spend a lot of my free time in London, meeting up with friends going for a coffee, getting some food and shopping. I am interested in fashion and love trying new food so London is perfect for this! I also enjoy cooking, going to the gym, going for walks and occasionally watching tv series and films.
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