What attracted you to study for a PhD at the University of Liverpool?
I studied for my undergraduate degree at Liverpool and loved how friendly and kind the staff in the chemistry department were. The group I'm studying for my PhD in, the Cooper group, had a strong track record of high quality and regular publications in reputable journals, showing the group was doing some really groundbreaking work.
Why did you decide to study materials chemistry at Liverpool?
Liverpool is one of the best universities to study materials science. With the Materials Innovation Factory we are collaborating on a large scale, people from all backgrounds including life sciences, mathematics and physics being involved with similar work allowing us to advance materials science in a new way.
Rather than the traditional method of 'trial and error' synthesis followed by analysis, we're pushing boundaries allowing us to combine computational chemistry, robotics and synthetic work to increase the work flow and speed up material discovery.
What is your research looking into?
My research involves the use of X-ray radiation to determine the atomic structure of a material, this is known as crystallography. This provides us with what is known as the structure-property relationship. This information is important as it allows us further understanding as to why a material exhibits certain properties.
The materials I work with are known as Porous Organic Cages, molecular cages which have capabilities of selective gas uptake, and can be used to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the removal of carcinogenic molecules such as formaldehyde.
What opportunities have been opened up to you from being a PhD student at the University of Liverpool?
As my PhD primarily focuses on crystallography, I have had the chance to visit the Diamond Light Source in Oxford, which uses incredibly high powered X-rays.
As well, I have visited the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley University in California. I have been to one international conference and a few in the UK too. There are also opportunities to work in different research groups around the world, for up to a year.
What skills do you feel you have developed during your time studying for a PhD so far?
My PhD has provided me with skill sets which extend far beyond using equipment or chemical reactions. I have learned how to interpret data effectively, which can be applied to a high number of jobs. How to present data in a way which either the general public could understand or a scientist from a different field.
As well as this, you have to be able to organise your time well which is a skill that can't be taught easily. Self-motivation is a big aspect of a PhD and again, you can't learn this from anyone else.
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