The British Conference of Undergraduate Research

University of Leeds

12 – 13 April 2021

row-start col-md-7

Student Q&A with PhD Postgraduate Students

Are you considering furthering your education? Do you have a passion for research? Do you like the idea of being a ‘Dr’?
At our Q&A session, you will have the chance to chat to current PhD students and ask them any questions you have. The session will give you a feel for what life is like as a PhD student. There will be postgraduates from a range of subjects, funding, backgrounds and Universities. You will be able to submit questions in advance, ask them directly to the panel or in the chat function on the day. A really valuable opportunity for anyone considering continuing in research. 


Jennifer Castelino
I graduated from the University of Leeds with an MNatSc Natural Sciences degree, with a year abroad at McMaster University. I majored in mathematics and minored in chemistry, focusing on thermodynamics, kinetics and fluid dynamics. I am currently in my third year of the CDT programme in fluid dynamics, which is funded by the EPSRC. The CDT in Fluid Dynamics stood out to me from more traditional PhDs because of its multidisciplinary approach. Coming from natural sciences background where an interdisciplinary approach is key, I was eager to continue this approach in the CDT. It also appealed to me because of the strong links with industrial partners and the opportunity to work with a cohort of students.
I am interested in understanding the dynamics of magmatic systems (large structures of magma, crystals and rocks beneath volcanoes). Recent evidence suggests that magmatic systems involve very complex geometries comprising of multiple interconnected magma reservoirs with large volumes of molten magma disseminated in crystal mush regions. I am currently investigating the porous, viscous and elastic behaviour of such a mushy magmatic system through the development of analytical and numerical models.
Jessica Edge 
I am a second year PhD candidate at the University of Leeds working in reproductive biology, specifically early pregnancy events. My thesis focuses on finding functional roles for conserved microRNAs in placental mammals with different pregnancy morphology. My PhD is through the BBSRC White Rose DTP which I receive a fully funded studentship for. I was drawn to this programme specifically because the ‘White Rose DTP’ includes Leeds, York and Sheffield Universities, which allows us to use their facilities and network with peers. We also receive training sessions and – perhaps the most attractive part for me – a compulsory 3 month placement in something unrelated to our PhD.

I completed my BSc at the University of Leeds in Genetics, with a particular interest in reproductive and developmental biology, with a view to become a Clinical Embryologist. I undertook my final year project, having the opportunity to present this research at an international conference in New Orleans, along with BCUR in 2018 and 2019. I went on to complete an MSc in Clinical Embryology and Assisted Reproductive Technology also at Leeds. During this time and due to my enjoyment of my undergraduate final year project, conferences I had attended and the research section of my master’s degree, I realised my interest was more in the research element of reproduction as oppose to the clinical application.
Christopher Robertson 
Christopher Robertson is a third year PhD researcher in Social and Political Science and Visiting Lecturer in Social and Political Science and Media and Journalism at the University of Chester. Following a BA in Politics at the University of Chester, and an MA in Political Communication at the University of Leeds, Christopher returned to the University of Chester to undertake a PhD in 2018, aiming to submit in September 2021.
Christopher is partially funded by a doctoral loan, and partially funded by the Department of Social and Political Science at the University of Chester. Over the course of his PhD, alongside working on his project, he has engaged in teaching undergraduates and postgraduates, presented at national and international conferences, and has published articles in books and journals. Christopher also presented at BCUR in 2018.
Katherine Warby 
Katherine Warby graduated from the University of Huddersfield in 2017 with a 1st class honours in Drama and English Literature. After graduating Katherine worked in primary and secondary schools as a visual impairment specialist. In 2018 Katherine went onto begin her postgraduate studies in English Literature, and after several months on her MRes took up a fully funded opportunity with the University of Huddersfield to convert her masters into a full research project. Since then, Katherine has been working on her PhD dissertation “Representations of Cold and Hostile Weather in British Romanticism”, her work explores a period of global cooling known as “The Little Ice Age” and in five chapters Katherine explores how Romantic poets and authors responded to this cold period. Now in her third and final year, Katherine aims to submit her dissertation in November 2021 and go onto find full time work, hopefully in publishing.
Dominic O’Connor
Dominic’s thesis topic is covering sweet taste preferences, with a particular focus on the difference in caloric and non-caloric sweet tastes. The project is funded under an EU Horizons grant and as such, the project involves international collaboration with numerous sites across Europe. During his PhD, Dominic has published a narrative review examining the differences in impact of high-intensity sweeteners versus sugars and/or water controls on appetite, food reward and body weight related outcomes, with a systematic review currently being prepared for submission. Dominic has been a University of Leeds student for 8 years, completing a Masters by Research thesis covering the effect of BMI on sweet taste preferences in women – concluding that body fatness levels are capable of influencing taste preferences, possibly through the hormone leptin. Prior to this Dominic completed an integrated Master’s degree in Advanced Psychology, which included a year spent studying at Hong Kong Baptist University. 
Katie Ismay 
Katie is a PhD student currently in her third year of study within the social sciences department of Leeds Beckett University, studying the impact of far-right (re) emergence on ‘ethnic minority’ perceptions of ‘Britishness’ within a West Yorkshire jurisdiction. She says: “I am lucky enough to have a part-time lecturer role within the university teaching undergraduate students; as I am self-funded, this is beneficial in regard to payment of tuition fees. Although I am ‘self-funded’, I do receive a loan from Student Finance England to also help with tuition fees. My undergraduate degree was actually in International Relations and Peace studies before pursuing a master’s in criminology and eventually undertaking a PhD. Although the taught content of my undergraduate degree is a little different from the work I do now, it introduced me to ideas and concepts that helped inform my current research. Volunteering at the British Red Cross within Refugee Services and at Victim Support during my undergraduate and master’s degrees also helped shape my research intentions; extracurricular work alongside your degree is invaluable, especially in terms of research and future employability.
Haidee Tinning
My name is Haidee Tinning. I am a 3rd year part-time PhD Student at the University of Leeds. At undergraduate I did Biological Sciences at the same university, which included a year in industry and a masters level top-up year.
My PhD is with the same supervisor that I had for my masters and is non-funded. I work part-time (21 hours per week) for my supervisor working for a specific grant, and the remainder of my time I spend working on my PhD.
I never really wanted to do a PhD but found that I really enjoyed research/lab work during my undergraduate that it didn’t seem too daunting to do a 5 year part-time PhD after.
I am now in my 3rd year, and have really enjoyed learning new techniques, presenting at conferences, and challenging myself to do new things.
col-sm-12 col-md-5 row-end top-80
col-sm-12 col-md-5 row-end top-80