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Dr Philippa Borrill

Dr Philippa Borrill

Dr Philippa Borrill
University of Birmingham
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?

I was inspired by my PhD supervisor Professor Cristobal Uauy. Cristobal is a highly successful and internationally respected scientist, but he always found time to support the people in his lab and valued them as individuals. I try to emulate this approach in my lab where we work hard to make scientific discoveries whilst recognising and supporting the different talents of each lab member.

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

Student-centred, supportive, well-organised

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

Initially I will supervise your hands-on training in the lab, supplemented by help from experienced PhD students and postdocs. There will be a gradual transition to independence as you gain experience and confidence.

Progression monitoring and management:

I meet weekly with each student to set goals together. The goals are largely determined by the student, although I provide advice and guidance. I like to be kept up to date with progress and will expect an update each week when we meet.

Communication:

Apart from weekly 1 to 1 meetings, and weekly lab meetings for the whole group, I tend to communicate with my PhD students via email during working hours. I also have an open door policy (in the current work-from-home circumstances this is now a quick email response and willingness to set up impromptu Zoom calls). I expect students to manage their work/life balance and try to model this behaviour myself, for example I do not usually check email on weekends. I am happy to discuss any issues that are impacting a student’s ability to fulfil their potential or agreed expectations.

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

At least once per week

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 week

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 week

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

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 2 week’s notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.