Student Profiles

Students from the graphene NOWNANO CDT come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. We asked three PhD students about how they came to the program, and what it is like to be a part of the graphene NOWNANO CDT.

Andrea Francesco Verre, from the 2012 cohort

Name: Andrea Francesco Verre

Year of study: 3rd

Hometown: Cosenza, Italy

What did you do before undertaking your PhD?

I studied an MPharm in the School of Pharmacy in University of Calabria (UNICAL) in Italy and then I worked in the Pharmacology department in the Italian Cancer Institute based in Aviano, Italy.

Why did you decide to undertake a postgraduate course?

I have been always interested in biological and chemical sciences. The opportunity of transferring all the theoretical knowledge in practical projects is very challenging but it is pure adrenaline to me.

Why did you choose Manchester?

Manchester is a fantastic place to study. In its history, the University can count 23 Nobel Prize winners and therefore there is a great scientific heritage. I chose Manchester because I was interested in studying the biotechnological application of graphene and so Manchester was the ideal place to be.

What are the benefits of the CDT for you?

CDT is a great experience. It is very challenging to work with people from different back ground but it is very formative experience. Once I was enrolled in the CDT and have been collaborating with physicists or chemists, I think I have been more interested in other fields and tried to combine other disciplines with my own research projects. Furthermore, the entire world of science is moving towards collaboration between different areas and different subjects. I think the most valuable skills that CDT gave me was the ability of the ability of establishing connection with scientists working in different subjects.

What have you enjoyed most so far?

I have been enjoying a lot this experience and especially working in the lab. It is always exciting thinking to new possibilities for my lab work and trying to solve the unavoidable practical problems that a scientific PhD students have to face.

Georgia Kime, from the 2014 cohort

Name: Georgia Kime 

Year of study: 1st

Hometown: Sheffield

What did you do before undertaking your PhD?

After finishing a physics degree at The University of Sheffield, I travelled around South Asia, Australia and the USA before returning to the UK to work in academic and healthcare administration.

Why did you decide to undertake a postgraduate course?

I enjoyed my undergraduate course so much, especially my Masters project in nanowire photonics and I wanted to do more research. While I considered going into an industrial job, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I could have such a varied, interesting, hands-on job in the area that I love.

Why did you choose Manchester?

Having lived in a smaller city, I wanted somewhere larger to explore – there’s so much going on in and around Manchester.

What are the benefits of the CDT for you?

Picking a PhD project is so difficult, as there are so many topics out there to choose from! I ended up in a project I never would have discovered on my own, as it includes a lot of chemistry (which I’ve not studied since GCSE). Thanks to the CDT course, I could try out new areas and learn new skills before settling into a final research project.

What have you enjoyed most so far?

I love how the CDT has links with different departments. Knowing chemists, biologists and engineers as well as physicists means if I’m ever stuck on something, there’s always someone to ask, and talking about research with others opens up new avenues I’d never have thought of before.

Julio Rios de la Rosa, from the 2013 cohort

Name: Julio M. Rios de la Rosa

Year of study: 2nd

Hometown: Algeciras, Spain

What did you do before undertaking your PhD?

Before undertaking my PhD I completed a BSc (5-year programme) in Biotechnology at Pablo de Olavide University (Spain), holding a Research Grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport to carry out the research project “Synthesis, characterization and functionalization of gold, silver, and ferromagnetic nanoparticles for siRNA delivery in tumours” during my last year. I also worked on summer research placements at Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB) and Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2) after being awarded the Introduction to Research Studentship (Spanish National Research Council – CSIC) and the AECC Summer Research Internship (Spanish Association Against Cancer – AECC), respectively.

Why did you decide to undertake a postgraduate course?

My experience in carrying out research as an undergraduate made me fully aware of the potential of nanotechnology in biomedical sciences. One limiting factor to progress is, in my opinion, the real lack of interdisciplinary researchers able to successfully communicate and exchange ideas with experts on different topics (e.g. materials science or biotechnology) in order to come up with novel approaches to solve an existing problem. An interdisciplinary PhD was therefore a natural continuation of my undergraduate studies to further develop my research abilities, while acquiring other valuable professional skills, such as time and project management.

Why did you choose Manchester?

Manchester is well known for being the home of graphene and has a global reputation for its pioneering research and international relations as well, so these factors held a particular weight in my decision. However, the uniqueness of the NoWNano programme was the definitive reason why I chose to apply for a PhD in Manchester.

What are the benefits of the DTC for you?

In first place, the DTC provides you with an excellent training on the different branches of nanoscience, which gave me some background knowledge on totally unknown fields. During this training period I was given the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art laboratories on campus, either in projects directly applicable to my current PhD topic (e.g. Atomic Force Microscopy) or totally out of my scope (e.g. graphene transistors). The organised trips, poster talks, and the possibility of choosing my own PhD project were also unique to this programme. Last and on a more personal note, the DTC allows you to mingle with your cohort and get to know other students and staff involved in the programme from the very first day. It is not only a good opportunity to make friends, but importantly to create a solid network and get in touch with people from totally different backgrounds!

What have you enjoyed most so far?

I have most enjoyed getting to meet other DTC students, all from different backgrounds but sharing the same enthusiasm for science. The annual Summer Conference is also a really good opportunity to keep myself updated on my colleagues’ research while giving us some free time for networking and socialising.

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