Skip to main content Skip to navigation

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 Surface, Interface & Thin Film Group under the supervision of Dr. Gavin Bell.

research group photo

The research group, from left to right: Haiyuan Wang, Alifah Ab Rahman, Phil Mousley, Collins Ouserigha,
Dr. Gavin Bell, Gwilym Enstone (Complexity Science), Dr. Chris Burrows and Steph Glover.


"I am Haiyuan Wang coming from China. This is the beginning of my third year for my PhD in physics department. I graduated from Tianjin Normal University about my bachelor and master in China. In order to break the monotony, I decided to come here. I would say it is really a right decision, a beautiful country, a nice group as well as friendly supervisor and colleagues. When I just arrived here, everything seems new and not easy for me. However, my supervisor and colleagues always try to help me emerge into UK culture. For example, they would like to ask me whether I am happy with the new environment, whether I need any help. Also, for study, our group has organised plan always. My supervisor always clearly let us know what we should do, which part is useful for our PhD study. And the important thing is that Warwick University has very powerful equipments for experiment and theory to do your research. If you work hard here, you can get what you want here......I have to say it is really worthy to join Warwick physics department! "

"I'm Collins E Ouserigha, a second year PhD student in Physics. I did my undergraduate degree in Niger Delta University and masters degree in the University of Port Harcourt both in Nigeria, my home country. I came to Warwick early 2013 to start my PhD. I wasn't very confident when I first arrived but my self esteem and confidence went up a lot during my first year. My supervisor and colleagues are all I could ever ask for; very nice and friendly and open to questions when I have challenges. Warwick Physics has all the facilities I need to do my research to be a condensed matter physicist using density functional theory method. And I get sponsored for training by the group when the need arises. My research work is flexible and I was given time off when we had a new baby in my family. Warwick Physics is the best!"

"I am Nur Alifah, from Malaysia. Making decision to be as Warwick's PhD student gives me the optimal way to learn language, make new friends all over the world and of course provide the opportunity to be a women contributor for Spintronic Device case study. With the flexibility of time, I can arrange my daily life schedules both as a student and a mother of three kids. The radius of travel between Physics Department, Coventry City Centre and my children's primary school are just around the corner, and I enjoy exploring new experiences while living at the second largest city of West Midlands."

"My name is Chris Burrows and I'm a post-doctoral research fellow in Physics. I arrived in 2004 when I started my undergraduate degree and since then I've studied for a PhD and have been working with Gavin Bell for the last two years as a research fellow. I've been at Warwick for a very long time now! I've had nothing but good experiences and fun times, made all the better by the supportive and friendly atmosphere in the department, which is why I've chosen to stay. It's great to work in a place where you can spend one week learning how to use new equipment and spending the next week somewhere international working with top researchers! What has also made my time at Warwick amazingly good fun is knowing and working with a mix of people, from all backgrounds and nationalities."

"I'm Phil, and I am a second year physics PhD student in the surface, interface and thin film group under the supervision of Gavin Bell. I completed my undergraduate masters degree in Natural sciences at the University of Bath in July 2013, and i began my PhD project in September 2013.
I was drawn to undertake a PhD project at Warwick for several reasons, one of the main ones being that the physics department has very good connections with world leading research facilities such as Diamond Light Source and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. There is also a wide range of on-campus facilities to use for both analysis and characterisation of samples. Within the department there is a lot of flexibility as to when to schedule your working hours, which helps greatly in pursuing extra-ciricular activities. Alongside my research i make use of the climbing wall and bouldering rooms available at the sports centre and I am an active member of the Warwick Jiu Jitsu club."

"I'm Stephanie Glover, a second year Ph.D. student in the Surface Science group, working with Gavin Bell. I did my undergraduate Masters in Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London. My first impression of the group came from when I interviewed for the position. The group made me feel welcomed and I was impressed by the experimental facilities available at the university. I knew before I left the department that this was the place for me. I still feel the same way now, after a year of study. As a group we regularly plan out of work hour events, and gather together with other friends for lunch. I've had many opportunities to travel the UK and abroad for work, and I am well on the way to having all the data I need to write my thesis. As a postgraduate I find the time to play lacrosse within the university, and have the flexible hours to play my Wednesday BUCS league matches."