September’s profile is Daniel O’Flynn. Daniel graduated in 2013 with a MChem in
Chemistry. He is now studying for a PhD in Chemical Synthesis in Bristol Universities Centre for Doctoral Training
Where are you now?
I am now doing a PhD in Chemical Synthesis in Bristol Universities Centre for Doctoral Training (BCS CDT). This is a slightly different PhD program to the conventional PhD route. It involves an initial seven month training period prior to starting a PhD project. In the training period I have been able to carry out three 7-week lab rotations in different research groups. This has allowed me to gain experience with new equipment, new chemistry and new techniques that I was previously unfamiliar with. Additionally, it also involves a lecture course, tutorial and workshop sessions, problem sessions, presentations in journal club, and brainstorming potential PhD projects. I am now coming to the end of the seven month training period and will be starting my PhD project in mid-April.
How did you get there?
During my industrial placement year I received an email about the Chemical Synthesis CDT at Bristol and was instantly interested. The advantages over the conventional PhD route were obvious to me. Carrying out three lab rotations in different research groups sounded like a great way to start at a new university, allowing me to meet the supervisors/research groups and get a feeling for the place. I could then make an informed decision about which PhD supervisor/project I will choose for the next three and half years. The Careers and Employability Centre and my personal tutor helped me to perfect my CV and I applied to Bristol University on their application website. I was able to get an interview a month or so later and everything happened relatively quickly from there.
Where are you going?
I am just about to finish the initial training period and will be starting my PhD project in mid-April. By way of ambitions, I hope that the PhD and my time at Bristol goes smoothly, ideally stumbling upon new chemistry that I can publish in journals. In the longer term, I wish to obtain my PhD and go into research in industry. At this moment in time, a career in pharmaceutical/agrochemical research would be my desired career choice.
What if anything would you have done differently during your time at Loughborough University to help you prepare better for your career/life upon graduation?
During my time at Loughborough I was very concerned about getting the best results I could in exams and coursework by learning what I had to learn. If I could of done anything differently I would of asked more questions during lectures (like ‘Why?’) to deepen my understanding of concepts that would be extremely useful to me during my PhD and future career.
What advice would you give to a student studying your subject at university now?
I would definitely say enjoy it, try to keep motivated, don’t let the work pile up and ask lots of questions. Additionally, it’s also worth making sure you understand and refresh on the basics throughout the course, as the basics are going to be fundamental when the hard stuff kicks in. Finally, I would say enjoy the union while you’re there…I miss FND!
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