Priya Pollard

Ensiled seaweed as an alternative biorefinery input substrates
University College Dublin
Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?

Priya is a 1st year PhD student enrolled at the University College Dublin (UCD)but based at the Bantry Marine Research Station (BMRS), Bantry, Co. Cork. Ireland (pretty far from Dublin). She is also part of AgRefine a European Training Network that will train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the necessary skills and knowledge to position Europe as the global leader in developing an agri-bioeconomy industry based on the advanced biorefinery technologies.

Priya’s project will involve investigating a novel seaweed-ensiling process as an alternative to drying to preserve seaweeds nutritional and monetary value. The study will also investigate the waste effluent produced by the silage and aim to maximize seaweed protein and/or mannitol content.

What does a typical day or week look like for you?

Things have been crazy with COVID, schedules have changed so much over my 6 month.
Working from home:
focused on literature reviews with 1-2 hours of meetings and 1-2 hours of webinars.
Working from the Lab in Ireland.
1-2 hours of in person or virtual meetings
1-2 Hours of webinars
3 hours of experiments – This is interesting because I can start a trial ad walk off to do something else and then come back to check on it.
1-2 hours of wondering… What am i really doing?
Rest of time paperwork and work reports either for BMRS or AgRefine
This part of wondering what I am doing seems to happen every day, It is apparently a natural part of doing a PhD. to be confused and feel like you are behind.
Since I am not at the phase when it all comes together I cannot say more about that yet.

What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?

Networking with colleagues from across the globe.

What’s been the most challenging part of it?

COVID-19 has cause many borders to be shut and it has made travelling quite difficult for some.
Organizing permissions and flights to leave Trinidad and Tobago was definitely the most difficult part.

Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
I have always seen myself as a lecturer post PhD however I am also thinking about doing post doctoral research.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?

Think about why you want to do a PhD…
Is it for a job? to publish papers? to work in the industry?
Can you do the above without doing a PhD?
If so, you may not need to do a PhD.
Do not do a PhD because “i have time” or “I can stay in school longer” or “well, it’s free”
It is big commitment that should not be taken for granted. Make sure you are ready to commit 3-5 sometimes 6 years of your life to eating, breathing and living this stuff.

If you do not like it… Don’t do it…

What makes your university a good place to study?

Employment post degree is important and for the third year in a row, University College Dublin was ranked number one in Ireland for graduate employability by QS World University Rankings. UCD is ranked 78 in the world.

Lastly, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

It is quite hard to find activities out of research since I live in a remote area. However I do enjoy cooking and watching sunsets. It is a nice distraction.

Want to learn more about Priya?

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and check out her ResearchGate profile and research websites using the links below:

Twitter | Instagram | ResearchGate | AgRefine Site | BMRS Site

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