Profile: Nikki Fowler

Programme: PhD
Started: October 2014
Previous study: University of Liverpool, MChem

Personal View

I chose to stay in academia to complete a PhD because I have always been interested in research and loved working in a laboratory environment. When the PhD position working with Professor Andrew Hodgson in the Surface Science Department of Chemistry became available, I was extremely interested in applying. I had thoroughly enjoyed learning about the theory of Surface Science during my undergraduate degree and applying them to small scale experiments in the teaching laboratories. I had also already worked in the Surface Science Department with Professor Hodgson on a theoretical research project during my undergraduate degree, hence I felt as though this was the PhD for me. The fact that the position was here in the University of Liverpool appealed to me even more. The Chemistry Department has currently been ranked 2nd in the UK according to the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results. I also love the city; it is a beautiful place with a great sense of culture.

My PhD began after the successful EPSRC equipment bid on a new state of the art 6K AFM/STM, capable of spatially resolved spectroscopy, imaging at the sub-molecular level and molecular manipulation. The aim of my project is to use this new low temperature scanning probing microscope to explore water hydrogen bonding at ionic surfaces and ionic adsorbates in order to address some of the outstanding challenges in this field of research. The position also offers the opportunity to visit Peking University in Beijing to work with the Jiang group, which I will be visiting this June.