Kathryn Smith

Kathryn McKendrick-Smith

Funding: Natural England, Moorland Association and North Pennines AONB Partnership

Supervisor: Professor Joseph Holden

Why did you decide to study for a PhD at Leeds?

I enjoyed the bigger research projects I had to do at Undergraduate and Master’s levels and I liked the idea of having a longer period of time to do some in-depth research on a topic.  Although I had decided I wanted to do a PhD it was dependent on finding the right project for me.  I was fortunate that at the end of my Master's course the PhD which I am doing was advertised with funding.  When I saw the title the applied nature of the project attracted me, I’ve always been interested in Land Management and impacts to the environment, working at the interface of policy and research.  Having done my Undergraduate and Masters Degrees at Leeds I knew it was a university that I liked, so choosing to study here was easy!

What is your experience of PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?

I can’t deny that it is challenging at times but it is also rewarding. You have to be disciplined because you have to manage your own time. 3.5 years might seem like a long time at the start but it soon goes! There is a great PhD community in the school which provides support as well as opportunities to socialise. Although you are all doing different projects you are all going through it together and can share stories!

The skills I have developed through this PhD are numerous:

  • Improved confidence - I have presented to groups of 30+ people consisting of a mix of academics, researchers, and landowners.
  • Project Management - I work with several organisations for my research. 
  • Time management - juggling lab work, fieldwork and writing is a balancing act, but one that I am getting better at! 

What are your career aspirations?

My interests lie in land management and so would hope to seek employment related to that. It might still be in academia or it might be outside of university life, in consultancy. One thing I know is that my PhD has set me up well for working with different groups and given me skills which will set me up for my future career.

What would you say to someone who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?

If you feel passionate about the project you are considering, then go for it! The School of Geography is a friendly place to study and you will be made to feel very welcome and valued as a member of the research community.