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Dr Tim Overton

Dr Tim Overton

Dr Tim Overton
University of Birmingham
Who is your scientific inspiration and why?

Isambard Kingdom Brunel – he was so ahead of his time, but was resolute in his vision. Many of the things he designed and built are still in regular operation.

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

Supportive, organised, guiding.

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

I discuss training with each student as part of our regular meetings. If you prefer to find your own way to do things and discover methods from the literature, then that is fine – if you need more guidance, then that is also good. I would expect that you would move from the latter to the former as we progress through the project, so by the end you have independence in designing experiments and developing expertise. Hands-on training will be provided by members of my group, myself (for some methods), and collaborators.

Progression monitoring and management:

We will have weekly meetings and track progression through the project. Each week we will agree on targets and look back at what has been achieved in terms of method and expertise development, data collection, and data analysis. We can meet on a more regular basis if needed, to solve problems if they occur. As we progress, we can switch to less regular meetings (once every two weeks) if required.

Communication:

I think that communication is key to success in a PhD. I am happy to discuss anything with my students – not just project and scientific issues, but pastoral and personal matters as well. If I can’t help directly I can guide you in the right direction, including the wellbeing team. Outside of weekly meetings (face to face or via Skype / zoom etc.) I am setting up a group space in Microsoft Teams, and am contactable by email. Work-life balance is incredibly important and I would expect that students find their own balance. I don’t expect responses to emails or messages at all hours or weekends, and I usually switch off my email at weekends.

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 week (or less frequently if the student requests)

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 (or less frequently if the student requests)

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 (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.