The relationships with our students doesn't stop at graduation. We forge lasting connections and encourage our alumni to keep in touch. Here we're sharing testimonials of some of past MAS CDT cohorts and how their experiences have shaped their future.
I joined the MAS CDT in September 2016 after graduating that year with my BSc (Hons) in Mathematics from Warwick. During my MSc study in the first year of the CDT programme, I was introduced to a multitude of analytical techniques and my knowledge of chemistry was strengthened. During the year, a very tight-knit community was built between the students in the cohort.
I completed my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Vas Stavros in the Department of Chemistry, in conjunction with Lubrizol. My research explored how ultrafast spectroscopy, alongside several complementary experimental and computational techniques, could be used to optimise the ingredients in sunscreens. Optimisation of sunscreens is necessary to make formulations as effective and long-lasting as possible, whilst making them kinder to skin and the environment. My PhD afforded me many fantastic opportunities alongside research, for example presenting my research at conferences in Australia, Germany and the UK, plus a visit to my industry collaborators in Spain. I also did some teaching in the areas of mathematics, statistics, physics and chemistry.
In between the submission of my thesis in November 2021 and my viva in January 2022, I started my role as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Stavros group, this time in conjunction with Mibelle Group Biochemistry. In August 2022, I will start my new role in the UK Civil Service for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as an Energy Analyst, with a focus on renewable heating projects. Completing my MSc research project in the Statistics department, plus the transferable skills that I gained during my PhD and postdoc, played a huge role in my ability to secure this new role. This was owing to the insights and experience I gained throughout my time in the MAS CDT: e.g. solving real-world challenges through data acquisition and analysis, presenting and preparing materials for technical and non-technical audiences (including publishing in scientific journals), and working short and long-term in interdisciplinary teams.
This quote is taken from my PhD thesis acknowledgements: “My PhD experience has certainly been enhanced by being a part of the MAS CDT; I will always be extremely grateful to everyone involved in deciding to accept me on to the course and giving me the opportunity to follow my dream of “doing something more applied”.
Emily Holt - 2016 Cohort
Having completed a BSc (Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry with a strong analytical background, I joined the MAS CDT at Warwick as an MSc student to pursue Analytical Science. After achieving a distinction in my MSc I chose to undertake a PhD which combined the fields of electrochemistry, pharmaceuticals and polymers, which was industry sponsored by Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
My research focused on the dissolution of multiparticulate pharmaceutical formulations specifically formulated with a taste masking polymer coating, in order to mask the taste of bitter or a high loading percentage of drugs as well as releasing in acidic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. This research utilised electrochemical techniques to follow in situ drug dissolution in real time as well as functional scanning probe methods to map the changes in topography of the multiparticulate substrates surface before, during and after dissolution. This research involved the collaboration with colleagues from different backgrounds to enhance the understanding of the overall process.
During the course of my PhD, I had opportunities to present at several national and international conferences, which not only improved the knowledge of my subject matter, but also further developed my verbal and visual presenting skills.
I completed my viva in December 2020 and currently work with the pharmacy team within the NHS on the vaccination effort against COVID-19.
Shrina Bhagat - 2016 Cohort
Having come form a background in Physics, the MSc year was a great opportunity to strengthen my chemistry knowledge as well as introducing me to a wide range of different analytical techniques. My PhD, based in a group that I did a project with during the MSc, looked at using a combined approach of solid-state NMR, XRD and DFT calculations to investigate the structure of salts of small organic molecules. I was fortunate enough to work with both AstraZeneca and Syngenta as industrial sponsors of my project, giving a focus on intermolecular interactions and hydrogen positions, particularly within the molecule/co-former interaction. During my PhD I had the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops relating to different aspects of my research, providing me with a broader understanding of each area, from different applications of each technique to an insight into work in industry. The ties back to the MAS CDT throughout also provided a wider, interdisciplinary community to learn and gain support from, as well as being the source of some great friends.
I submitted my thesis in Feb 2020 and started a job at Pfizer Ltd. in Kent, where I currently work as a senior Material Scientist. I focus on the physical stability of molecules within the drug product, as well as being the resident solid-state NMR expert.
Emily Corlett - 2016 Cohort
In undertaking my doctoral research I became proficient in independently utilising high field Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS), a state-of-the-art analytical technique that offers ultra-high resolution and mass accuracy, allowing many thousands of components to be detected in complex samples. In partnership with my industrial sponsor, the Lubrizol Corporation, I applied the technique to the study of problematic oils used as fuels in the shipping industry. In this way, it was possible to link the behaviour of these highly complex mixtures to their chemical composition. I also had opportunities to work with collaborators from the British Museum, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the British Geological Survey. My research findings have been published in several papers and presented at a diverse range of conferences and events all over the world, including meetings in the UK, USA, Italy, and Japan, as well as at the UN World Cities Day.
Two months after receiving my doctorate I started a new role at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, where research is carried out in support of the Mars Petcare purpose: A Better World For PetsTM. Waltham science has driven development of famously successful brands including DENTASTIX® PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®. The expertise and experience from my doctoral research at Warwick helps me support the science behind these products in my new job. I am currently working on research projects to understand pet food chemistry to deliver healthier, more sustainable, and more enjoyable products.
Mary Thomas - 2015 Cohort
My name is Marco Pinto and I was part of the Molecular Analytical Science (MAS) program at the University of Warwick between Oct 2015 and Jan 2020. The aim of my thesis was to develop a method to determine secondary structure content in globular proteins by vibrational spectroscopic techniques, with special interest in infrared (IR), Raman and Raman Optical Activity (ROA). During my PhD, I carried out activities not only related to my thesis but also to other student’s projects such as trainings and demonstrations in a wider range of molecular spectroscopic techniques available in the biophysical chemistry lab (e.g., UV-vis, DLS, CD…). That experience acquired during my time as a PhD student made me a very suitable candidate for the position I currently hold as an applications scientist in molecular spectroscopy at Agilent technologies (Harwell, UK). My role is mainly about developing IR and Raman methods for biopharmaceutical companies interested in Agilent’s products and, providing technical support and training once they purchase the instruments. For this role, I benefit not only from technical knowledge but also a set of transferable skills (e.g., analytical thinking, leadership, time management, team work, communication) that I developed over the course of my PhD through both my research and a variety of events within the CDT-MAS scheme.
Marco Pinto - 2014 Cohort
Before joining the MAS CDT, I completed my undergraduate master's in physics at the University of Warwick, with my final year project focussing on electron microscopy in perovskite materials. After completing the master's year of the MAS CDT, I carried out my PhD over the next three years. My PhD targeted the development of electrochemical scanning probe microscopy techniques. This involved the fabrication of nanoelectrodes with existing and novel methodology, additionally, characterisation was carried out using typical electrochemical methods and electron microscopy. Another key area was the use of software and programming, a great deal of time was spent using MATLAB to analyse data and LabVIEW to control the microscopy equipment. As part of my PhD, I published two papers, one was a contribution to a review and the other was a direct result of my PhD project.
I submitted my thesis in October 2019 and completed my viva in March 2020, during this time I started working as a Technology Analyst for my current employer IDTechEx in Cambridge. IDTechEx is an independent market research and business intelligence company in the area of emerging technologies. The company provides both “off the shelf” market research reports, bespoke consulting projects, one-on-one analyst time and presents at or attends a large variety of global events. The company provides these services for a range of customers from large materials suppliers to mining companies and research institutes. I started within the electric vehicles team producing reports on “Thermal Management for Electric Vehicles” and worked on a bespoke consultancy project for the International Copper Association. Within the first two months, I had travelled to the US and Europe presenting my research to representatives from various companies with differing backgrounds. Since then, I have branched out into other areas such as advanced materials and 5G, continuing to produce research reports, bespoke studies and presenting at conferences. Read More
There are several areas that my PhD studies helped in acquiring and carrying out my current job. The interview process for this position required submission of a CV and covering letter, a phone screening and then a final presentation on an unfamiliar topic with questions following. Throughout my PhD, I presented many times to my group, other departments and at external conferences, these were always followed up with a significant number of questions. This was one of the most important skills to develop as it not only prepared me for the presentation portion of the interview process but also to have greater confidence in my work and respond to questions in an effective manner. A skill that has been key in my time at IDTechEx is the research process and embedding myself in areas that were not my initial expertise, in a timely fashion. This is often the case for PhD students as they attempt to find new lines of thought or embark on new methodologies and projects throughout their studies. Whilst my current role does not involve any explicit programming, the understanding of programming and a core level of computing proficiency has proved extremely useful for general productivity and logical reasoning (even if jobs outside of academia mostly use excel). General writing skills are also very useful but may have to be tailored away from academic writing, depending on the industry you move onto.
To summarise, there are several opportunities throughout a PhD to develop skills that can make you a more desirable and effective candidate for various post-academic paths. Many of us struggle through long periods during a PhD, but it is important to take the opportunities to develop skills like presenting, writing, programming and working as part of a team wherever possible, these will not only help you in your academic studies but also in your career progression into the future.
James Edmondson - 2015 Cohort
The goal of my PhD was to develop statistical and software tools for the analysis of ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry data of complex mixtures.I learnt how to develop dashboard in R with Shiny during my PhD in order to make the algorithms invented accessible to scientist with no coding experience or command line experience. This is currently the primary skill I am now using as a consultant specialising in developing information dashboards for genomics data. I also use my broader data analysis experience with the data science skills picked up during my PhD to solve customer problems.
The software development method used by the customers are work for is called Agile. The principles are similar to the method adopted during my PhD by doing quick iterations thanks to regular feedbacks from end users. In the Agile process, I am talking directly with a product owner and users to understand their needs, gather requirements and adapt along the way just like I was doing with colleagues in the lab during my PhD. The science knowledge gathered during my studies and my PhD allows me to quickly gather domain specific knowledge, often crucial to properly analyse sets of data or setup appropriate tools.
Remy Gavard - 2014 Cohort
My PhD was an industry funded project aimed at developing non-invasive functional mapping techniques for determining reactive purity content in pharmaceutical formulations. I worked within different research groups to investigate spectroscopic and electrochemical mapping applications of pharmaceutically and biologically relevant materials to work towards this goal. This research provided insights into physicochemical processes involved in functional electrochemical mapping at electrodes, dissolution of polycrystalline biomaterials, and the biophysical properties of bacterial cells. These projects involved collaborating with colleagues to integrate information from different experiments with simulations of the underlying kinetics and electrohydrodynamics. Working on an applied project helped me to understand the needs and priorities of research in industry, while work on advancing understanding of electrochemical mapping techniques provided important research experience in fundamental science. I entered MAS CDT as a biologist with some programming skills and by the time I left I had gained experience in a broad range of areas from analytical techniques and instrumentation in physical chemistry, to statistics and mathematical modelling of biological and chemical systems. Additionally, the community built at the CDT has left me with an interdisciplinary network of contacts and friends, some I still work with on a daily basis. Read More
My current role is as Senior Data Analyst embedded within a biopharmaceutical discovery group at GSK, designing analytics and data pipelines to aid selection of an appropriate drug candidate from experimental data. I also work across teams from multiple disciplines to understand the requirements of different projects and build analytics tools to integrate information from different areas. This builds on experience from my PhD as part of an interdisciplinary team and working with others understand their experiments to bring together computational and experimental methods. It’s also built upon the data and analytics skills I learned during the PhD and MSc; analysing data from different instruments and applying statistics and machine learning to experimental data. The understanding of instrumentation and biophysical processes are invaluable in helping me to understand experiments designed by others and understand the best numerical and visual representation of the data. I also help to upskill scientists in data processes and techniques using experience I gained teaching and supervising undergraduates, masters students and younger MAS cohorts through the CDT. The opportunities and experience provided by a PhD in MAS were essential for me to build the skills required in my career and enter my current field.