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Dr Séamus Holden

Dr Séamus Holden

Dr Séamus Holden
University of Warwick
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?

Uri Alon ( His book, Introduction to Systems Biology, was the first to really convince me that reductionist physical principles can be genuinely useful in biology, and played a big part in inspiring my approach to research. He is a fearless interdisciplinary scientist who works across physics and biology, making significant contributions across multiple fields, and communicates science passionately with humour and songs (his science songs are well worth looking up on YouTube).

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

Supportive, enthusiastic, organised.

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

Student’s hands-on training will be supervised predominantly by my experienced post docs/PhD students. I will meet regularly with students - weekly in the first year, then bi-weekly - to review and plan the project, including training.

Progression monitoring and management:

I have high expectations of students, expecting them to be highly self-motivated and to be carrying out world class research by the end of their PhD. However, this is within the context of a lab culture that prioritises mental health and wellbeing, and strives for reasonable work-life balance, with flexible working hours, weekend working being the exception rather than the norm, and regular vacations.

Regular student-supervisor meetings are an essential component of student training and project progress. We will meet weekly or bi-weekly and review progress and project plans. Project planning and assessment in my lab is always student led, with my role to mentor, review and advise rather than to micro-manage.


We have weekly lab meetings with a rotating schedule of research presentations and journal clubs by team members. We also have a lab Slack group which we use to coordinate lab admin, manage projects and discuss/ troubleshoot research. Although I may sometimes message my team during odd hours due to parenting responsibilities, this is on the clear understanding that responses are only required during office hours.

I have a strong track record in supporting team members with pastoral issues and will make available dedicated time to deal with such issues as they arise.

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 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?

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

Open door policy?

Yes, I am usually contactable for an instant response 3 or 4 days per week.

My expectation of PhD student working patterns?

Certain tasks in my lab need to occur at set times, and students need to be able to commit to a rota/timetable shared with other members of the team.

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.