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Postgraduate case studies

What is life as a researcher like in the Physics Department? Can you do a PhD as a parent of young children? Is there time for sport and leisure? Below are some views from postgraduate students and postdoctoral staff working in the Diamond Research Group within the Magnetic Resonance cluster under the supervision of Dr. Gavin Morley.

The research group, from left to right: Yashna Lekhai, Gavin Morley,
Rajesh Patel, Angelo Frangeskou, Colin Stephen, Will Thornley, Guy Stimpson and Eleanor Nichols

I’m Eleanor Nichols, I’m in my fourth year at Warwick and I spent a summer in the department doing an internship. The URSS undergraduate research scheme at Warwick allowed me to experience what life is like as a PhD student and to learn more about an area of physics that interests me. The university is a great place to study, there are lots of things to do on and off campus. Personally, I decided to start ice skating and have made new friends and gained confidence as a result. The group is incredibly friendly and lovely to work with! Everyone is willing to help and explain things to you. As a result of my time spent in the group, I’ve learnt a lot more lab skills and definitely want to apply for a PhD in the future.


My name is Rajesh L. Patel and I am a PhD student in the Warwick Diamond Group under the supervision of Gavin Morley. I was a member of cohort 4 of the Diamond Science & Technology Center for Doctoral Training. Part of the appeal of the DST to me was the placements, one of which was an industrial placement and the other at a different university to the University of Warwick. Both allowed me to develop friendships and forge links within the diamond community. I have found my time doing a PhD at the University of Warwick to be both enjoyable and challenging. I have greatly appreciated how helpful and friendly every member of the group has been.


My name is Yashna Lekhai and having finished an undergrad course at University of Surrey, I chose to continue my academic studies at Warwick with Gavin. Visiting the labs cemented my eagerness to join the group, as not only was it the right topic, but the working atmosphere was one of collaboration and discovery. Moving university whilst daunting, gave me better insight into how different research groups operate, without giving up the extra-curricular activities such as fencing and art that I enjoyed at undergrad. As a woman in STEM I have always taken pride in encouraging future scientists – the physics department at Warwick offers many opportunities to engage schools and the general public, from open days to Christmas lectures. The Warwick PhD course aims, and in my opinion succeeds, in balancing scientific research and the soft skills important to any walk of life.


My name is Colin Stephen and I’m a research assistant and former PhD student in Gavin Morley’s group. I joined the group as a mature student with a background in software engineering and following on from a mature undergraduate degree in Physics at Birmingham. I enjoy that there’s plenty of opportunities to solve interesting problems and pursue novel work with diamond and quantum technologies working with some of the leading groups in the field. The group has a mix of mature students and students coming straight from their first degree so feels inclusive. Several colleagues have children so there’s understanding of the balancing that parenthood sometimes requires, as well as encouragement to get good results out there first.


I'm Will Thornley and I did a very interesting undergraduate summer project with Gavin's group. I helped to build a magnetometer from nitrogen vacancy centres in diamond. While the physics behind this was a bit beyond what I had covered in my degree by that point, everyone was very generous with their time, going out of their way to explain and answer all the questions I had. There was a great team atmosphere and we would regularly have lunches together. During the summer project there was plenty of time to pursue extracurricular activities, I even had time to visit family. It was great to get an experience of what research is like and I plan on applying for a PhD as a result.


My name’s Guy Stimpson and I’m a final year PhD student in Warwick Diamond Group under Gavin Morley. I completed an undergraduate degree in Astrophysics at Aberystwyth University in 2015 and came to Warwick that year to join the Diamond Science & Technology Centre for Doctoral Training. I was attracted to the course not only for the subject matter but also the excellent research, commercial and industrial links afforded by the course. Having a network of friends and colleagues spread throughout research institutions and private organisations is invaluable both in terms of my work here at Warwick and with respect to my career options when I complete my studies.