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Dr Jennifer Cook

Dr Jennifer Cook

Dr Jennifer Cook
University of Birmingham
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?

A tricky question, it changes all the time depending on what I am reading! At the moment I am most inspired by my own PhD students who are being absolutely heroic in finding ways to do their PhD work despite the pandemic.

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

Fair, firm, fun

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

The aim of the PhD is to become an independent scientist. However, I won’t throw you in the deep end and expect you to be independent from the outset! In the first year we will work closely to develop, run, and analyse your first project. Gradually you will take on more of the responsibility so that, in the last year, in principle, you could carry out your work completely independently.

In general, I would say that I am here to help you to solve problems so that your work can be the best it can be. However, I do expect you to have tried to do a bit of problem solving (Googling, asking others in the lab etc.) before you come to me.

Progression monitoring and management:

I like to be kept up to date and to see evidence of method development/data generation/results on a fortnightly basis. If I don’t hear from you, I will check in with you to make sure you are okay but I won’t hound you. At the end of the day, I expect my PhD students to be the drivers of their own success.

Communication:

The team has a WhatsApp and Slack group chat with which we regularly communicate during the week. We also communicate via email. Sometimes I will send emails in the evenings or at weekends, however I will not expect you to do the same.

I am always happy to discuss any issues that are impacting your ability to fulfil your potential. Irrespective of whether they are work-related or not.

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

At least once per fortnight

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 fortnight

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 per fortnight

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 fortnight

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

Face to face (if allowed under current health and safety advice)

Open door policy?

Yes, 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, and (other than attending pre-arranged meetings), I expect students to manage their own time.

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

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