What Life is Like

Thoughts about PhD life – Interview: James Brooks 

Making the decision to do a PhD was a tough one, but a decision that has helped shape myself as a person, on both professional and personal levels. I made the choice to apply for a few PhDs when I was on a Masters course at another University, and noticed that this PhD at Manchester offered a wide variety of fieldwork opportunities. And boy has it not disappointed!

As part of my project, I have been extremely lucky to take part in two major field campaigns, one on-board the FAAM research aircraft over India and another on-board a research vessel around the Middle East. Before my PhD I had some experience of carrying out fieldwork, particularly in the Arctic in Svalbard, but these field campaigns were certainly a step up in knowledge required. Over the course of my PhD, I have been able to take part in several subject-specific training courses, as well as transferrable skills courses to be able to complete my fieldwork. An example of the courses on offer is the Atmospheric Science field course in Arran, where you can learn how to operate several different atmospheric instruments. Another example is an NCAS Introduction to Scientific Computing course which gave me a good insight into how to programme, therefore aiding my development in instrument operation and data analysis.

The support network that the EAO DTP provides is fantastic, and having such a wide variety of people around you helps you grow as a research scientist. Through conferences and residential trips as a DTP group, I have improved my communication greatly and this has helped massively in carrying out large conference presentations to the aerosol field.