Student blogs: Meet David
Blogging about my activities has always been a fascinating idea, so when the opportunity arose to do this on a regular basis, I embraced it with delight!
Let me start by introducing myself – I am currently in the third year of my research program at the Department of Chemical Engineering, to put it in more general terms, I am working on some new technologies and ideas, with the aim of obtaining a PhD degree after 3 years.
Most of my working week involves planning and carrying out experiments, then analysing the results of these experiments to make sense out of all the data I obtain. I also assist the Department in carrying out laboratory demonstrations for first year undergraduate students (though this is voluntary).
And oh, I do have lots of meetings with my supervisors and colleagues. I meet up with my supervisors to discuss my work and the direction of my research on a regular basis, while the meeting with my colleagues focuses on sharing ideas and collaborations on future works.
Obviously, it’s not just all work, as my colleagues and I tend to have social gatherings to unwind. This normally takes place on some Fridays and special occasions such as birthday or whatever holiday forces us to take a break from work (or to celebrate when of us submit his/her final thesis).
We always look forward to those moments (which I must confess, are not so common). Most of us are international students, so it’s always fun learning about different cultures and way of life. For example, in my department alone, we have Nigerians, Somalian, Sri Lankans, Italians, Greeks, Malaysian, Thais, Chinese, Indians, Iranians, and of course British. Quite a wonderful mix and truly international, it must be said.
Another way I have fun is to take part in sporting activities. The excellent facilities at Loughborough University encourages students to take part in different sports or activities. Having elite athletes come to Loughborough to train is a form of encouragement for me as I’ve become more engaged in sports I knew very little about.
Cricket is something I find exciting nowadays, and this is due to my experience at one of the largest indoor cricket grounds in the world, which is located within the University. I got the rare opportunity to visit the facility during as part of the volunteering work I do for the University, which involves taking visiting students on campus tours.
Although, of recent, it is restricted due to English cricket players using the facility, especially during winter months, it was still a lovely experience for me. In terms of physical activities, I do play football once a week on one of the synthetic pitches on campus with colleagues and some lecturers. This way, I manage to stay fit.
One big advantage of doing a research degree is the opportunity to go to different parts of the world to attend conferences and seminars. You sometimes get invited to give a presentation based on results from your research work, or to network with other researchers around the world while attending conferences.
One of the aims of my research is to publish as many articles as possible, and from a recent publication I got an invitation to come to Japan to give a presentation at a conference later this year. I am still considering the offer, and will discuss it in detail with my supervisors.
I have been to other universities in the UK to either give a poster presentation of my work, or discuss my research program with aspiring researchers. It just shows the global impact our work could have.
As I mentioned earlier, I do some volunteering work for the University, which could involve giving talks on what I do, take visiting students on campus tours, or helping with numerous activities on University open days. This is quite exciting, as I get the opportunity to share my experience with students who know very little about life within campus. They always have the funny look when you tell them it’s not just geeky stuff we do all the time.