- Course: PhD Quantifying and understanding the tropical peatlands of the central Congo
Funding: National Environment Research Council (NERC)
Supervisors: Dr Simon Lewis (University of Leeds)
External supervisors: Dr Ian Lawson (University of St Andrews), Dr Edward Mitchard (University of Edinburgh)
Why did you decide to study for a PhD, and why Leeds?
During both my undergraduate and MSc, the things I enjoyed most were the research projects. Both my undergraduate and MSc dissertation projects involved fieldwork in the tropics and related to the role of soil in the carbon cycle. I enjoyed both the subject and the opportunity to do fieldwork abroad. I knew that I wanted to continue on in research and if possible working on similar projects. I saw an advert for a PhD at the University of Leeds looking at carbon storage in peatlands in the Congo Basin and thought it covered everything I was looking for.
What is your experience with PhD study in the School and what skills have you learnt?
The School of Geography has a good community of PhD students which is good for socialising, but also for providing support with your PhD. Being a Geography department means that everyone is working on quite different projects; the advantage of this is that there is a wide range of experiences amongst both staff and students which you can draw on.
Personally one of the good things I find about the department is the number of people who carry out research in the tropics. Doing research in some areas of the tropics can be challenging. Having a large number of people I could ask for advice, both before and during fieldwork, made it a lot easier.
What are your career aspirations?
Since the area of research, my PhD covers is quite new, there is still a lot of work to be done. I’d love it if my PhD was just the start of a much longer career in research working in the Congo Basin. My PhD involved quite extensive fieldwork and gave me a good experience of not only the scientific aspects of research but also the logistics of working in remote environments. I now feel much more confident about pursuing a career that involves research in challenging regions of the world.
More generally, what would you say to someone else who may be considering studying a PhD in the School of Geography?
The most important thing is finding a PhD that you’re interested in. If that’s in the School of Geography then great; it has a good mix of both the UK and international students, working on a wide range of projects. So whilst studying for your PhD you also get to meet a lot of interesting, friendly people.