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Professor David I Roper FRSC

Professor David I Roper FRSC

Professor David I Roper FRSC
University of Warwick
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?

Far too many to mention. At school I loved all the sciences so took physics, chemistry, and biology all at A-level. My love of making things as well lead me to an interest in engineering, but alas a lack of A-level maths brought that university aspiration to an abrupt end. Since Chemistry and Biology were my best subjects, the next best thing was a degree in Biochemistry which took me to Cardiff and then Leicester to do a PhD at the start of the molecular biology revolution. At Leicester, I also became interested in X-ray crystallography and moved to a postdoc research position followed by independent MRC fellowship at the York Structural Biology Lab. A whole host of wonderful and inspirational people have helped moulded me into the molecular and structural microbiologist that I am today before coming to Warwick as a lecturer and now Professor of Biochemistry. I pride myself in still being active at the bench so that I can properly connect to the people and understand their challenges in the lab and support them wherever I can. My ethos is that science should be both challenging and fun, I hope that is a constant in my research world and those around me. My research is focussed on how bacteria divide and build their cell walls at the same time, which is the target for existing and we hope, many future antibiotics. This focus connects us with a very important biomedical issue and ensures connections to a world-wide collaborative community. Finally, I can call myself an engineer, I just do it at a molecular level.

In three words or phrases how would you describe your supervision style?

Team science, approachable, supportive

In one or two sentences please describe your strategies regarding the following.
Provision of training:

I pride myself in still being active at the bench so that I can properly connect to the people and understand their challenges in the lab and support them wherever I can. In that way I can best appreciate the needs and issues my students face so that we can solve them together. My ethos is that science should be both challenging and fun, I hope that is a constant in my research world and those around me.

Progression monitoring and management:

I don’t have a prescriptive and formal attitude to supervision but do want me students to come and discuss their projects with me whenever they can. We do have biweekly lab meetings which are meant to be interactive and inspiring. Science works best through communication, interaction, and collaboration. Whilst I’m busy I will always make time for you and your work is more important than any task I’m doing in my office.

 Communication:

I make myself available by phone, WhatsApp, email, teams and just plain old knock on the door pretty much anytime. I was on sabbatical for a year in the US recently and communicated by teams/skype/whatsapp with the research group most of that time. Everyone felt supported in my absence and knew that I was there for them. Whilst I may email you in the dead of night with some totally genius idea, I don’t expect an instant answer, nor should you in return! We are in this together as a team, its my job to get the best out of you by recognising your strengths and weaknesses and harnessing those to their best effect to train you how to be a successful scientist.

How often do your PhD students see you in a timetabled group meeting?

At least once a month but more normally once per fortnight. My office is open all the time

In year 1 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once per month but I prefer a more informal “come and chat anytime” approach.

In year 2 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once a month but more normally once per fortnight. My office is open all the time

In year 3 of PhD study, how often do your PhD students have a scheduled >30 minute 1:1 meeting with you?

At least once per week but I prefer a more informal “come and chat anytime” approach.

What form do your 1:1 meetings with PhD students take?

A mixture of face to face or via video chat or telephone as required.

Open door policy?

Yes totally, I am usually contactable for an instant response (if required) on every working day.

My expectation of PhD student working patterns?

The timing of work in my lab is completely flexible, but I do have an expectation that students should be here by 10am and will work whatever hours they need to. Flexibility is key, if you are going to be away just tell me so I know what is going on.

Notice for feedback (e.g. on reports, manuscript drafts, thesis chapters)?

I need at least 1 weeks’ notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.