Thiago Guimarães profile picture

Thiago Guimarães

Why did you choose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds?

The decisive factor for me was the supervisor, who is a leading researcher in the field and whose work has motivated me for a long time.

My research interests are definitely cross-disciplinary, I wanted to spend my PhD years where I could be in touch not only with transport researchers, but also sociologists, economists, and health scientists, for instance. Studying for my PhD at the University of Leeds is perfect for this as it offers such an exciting research environment.

What is the best part of being a postgraduate research student at the Institute of Transport Studies?

ITS is one of the largest, most productive and best renowned transport research centres in the world. Over the years, its research outcomes have been influential in a number of different countries.

Being at ITS means I am a part of this exciting environment and get to work closely with a number of different staff members who are involved in top-quality research in the field of transport.

As well as this, being a part of ITS means I am part of a unique team of people from a variety of nationalities and cultures. This diversity can be academically and personally enriching if you are open to interacting with your peers.

Tell us about your research.

I believe that transport, above all, has an important role to play in people’s lives. Transport projects are conventionally assessed for their potential impact on the economy, but my PhD looks to investigate how a new transport scheme can contribute to satisfying more fundamental human needs.

In particular, I would like to understand to what extent and under which conditions, large-scale urban public transport schemes (such as metro lines) can be beneficial for socially disadvantaged groups – who should receive priority by public policies.

From this perspective, a public transport intervention could be regarded as valuable, not necessarily if it increases travel speed in a generic manner, but rather if it improves the access of populations to facilities such as clinics and hospitals – ultimately contributing to their health and well-being.

I am convinced it is a relevant research question for policy making, particularly in the Global South context.

What activities do you take part in outside of your studies?

I have always tried to experiment with new things. Since being in Leeds I have taken my first salsa steps and kung-fu movements. At the moment, I really enjoy going to classical concerts and rock gigs, jogging early in the morning (even in the winter!), hiking in the wonderful Yorkshire surroundings and cooking for and with friends.

What are your ambitions for the future?

After completing my PhD I am open to exploring pathways in research and policy advising.

Any advice for prospective students?

I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Seize the opportunity to do a PhD. It is a trip of scientific discovery, but also a discovery of yourself.
  2. A PhD is more exciting the more it takes you out of your comfort zone, but it is up to you to take it as a truly transformative experience – no supervisor or examiner will force you to do it.
  3. Do not compare your PhD with anyone else’s. Each one is a very individual journey, with all its merits and weaknesses.