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Dr Sarah Pike

Dr Sarah Pike

Dr Sarah Pike
University of Birmingham
In three words or phrases how would you describe your supervision style?

My supervision style is highly supportive and collaborative. At the start of the PhD, I will provide you with more supervision to help motivate and inspire you to achieve your goals whilst also helping to develop those skills that you require to become a more independent researcher. By the end of your PhD, you will have developed the technical and transferable skills that are necessary for you to take increasing responsibility and ownership of your PhD. It is my aim to provide you with the necessary support and supervision throughout your PhD to develop the ability and confidence to take your studies in new exciting avenues and directions and these technical and transferable skills will be highly valuable to your personal and future career development.

Provision of training:

The project is highly interdisciplinary in nature, residing at the interface of chemistry and biology, and will provide the student with an excellent grounding in a wide range of chemistry and biological techniques due to the provision of a diverse training programme in organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and tissue culture carried out in the Pike and Arno research labs respectively.

The student will be provided with all the necessary training to ensure the successful progression of the project by myself and by other members of my research team. Specifically within the Pike lab, the student will be provided with detailed training in a wide range of synthetic organic techniques (including multi-step synthesis and air-sensitive chemistry) and will gain extensive training and experience in a diverse array of analytical techniques (including NMR spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and single crystal X-ray diffraction). (Please see below for specific synthetic and biological training to be provided by the Arno group).

The PhD student will also receive training in a number of transferable skills (e.g. paper and grant writing, communication and presentation, public awareness engagement and leadership skills) to help them develop to their full potential.

Progression monitoring and management:

Progression will be monitored by weekly meetings with both supervisors for the first 3 months of the project. Subsequently, meetings with supervisors will be scheduled on a fortnightly basis with the submission of the student producing an informal report detailing their latest results (i.e. over the two week period) to aid discussion about progress and the future directions of the project. The PhD student will also attend joint monthly group meetings with members of both research teams to present and discuss their work in a more formal setting. All the necessary training will be provided in the first six months of the PhD. The PhD student will be encouraged to use this skill set to gain the necessary confidence and ability to develop a more independent mindset and take increasing ownership of their PhD as their studies continue. In the latter stages of the PhD, the student might be expected to help train new group members (i.e. MSci students or ERASMUS exchanges students) in relevant techniques performed within the lab.

The PhD student will also have access to training and management course that are run by the University of Birmingham central postgraduate research support team to help support you through every aspect of your PhD studies.


I am happy to discuss any issues that are impacting your ability to fulfil your potential and succeed in your PhD studies and I feel that it is very important that the student knows that they have my full support in dealing with and overcoming any issues that affect their ability to fulfil their potential. I will always respond to emails from students and am more than happy to schedule meetings with students as required. The PhD student will be actively encouraged to develop their communication and leadership skills by undertaking and engaging with the transferable skills courses run by University of Birmingham central postgraduate research support team. Members of my research group are also encouraged to participate in outreach and public engagement events in order to help develop their communication skills in discussing science and explaining their research interests to the general public.

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

At least once a month

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 monthWhat 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, but my pattern of being contactable for an instant response is not always predictable.

My expectation of PhD student working patterns?

Working hours are flexible, although students are strongly encouraged to work on site during core hours to avoid lone working. Part-time working needs to be agreed in advance.

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.