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Student Research Spotlight

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Each month the School of Engineering & Applied Science will be sharing an interview with one of our research students. 


Discover what it's like to be a research student at Aston, hear about their motivations, their experiences of higher level study, and what they hope to do in the future...

Click on the interviews below, and be sure to check back for new ones!

Student Interview PhD Computer Science

Kinana Aliko is currently in her second year of a PhD at Aston University, in the area of sustainable chemistry.

What is the subject of your PhD?

“Novel Polybutylene Succinate fibre dressing derived from lignocellulosic biomass”. 

Sustainable chemistry is an area of chemistry and chemical engineering focused on the design of products and processes that minimise the use and generation of hazardous substances. I am using lignocellulosic biomass as a starting material instead of petroleum sources, which cause environmental issues when producing certain kinds of polymers. Polymers have many applications in the medical field, and I am trying to find a green chemical route to produce polymers which can be used in medicine, for example in wound dressing and cartilage repair. 

What motivated you to do a PhD at Aston?

  • Great projects in different areas related to my research
  • Experienced staff
  • Comfortable environment
  • Flexibility to do anything

 
What have you enjoyed about it so far?

I think I am very pleased to be studying at Aston University because all the staff are very helpful and welcoming. Frankly, I feel that I gained great experience during this short period since I started my PhD. My supervisors are brilliant and always supporting me. The university gave me a great opportunity to enrol in many useful courses to extend my skills. As a research student, I found an outstanding environment at CEAC labs to conduct my experiments and a great support from the staff in the school. Furthermore, Aston University offers me respectable financial support each year to cover all my chemicals and equipment that I need.

What three words would you choose to describe your experience at Aston?

Varied, rich and interesting.

Has anything surprised you about studying a PhD?

Actually, no, because I used to work in a scientific environment for eight years before starting my PhD. 

What do you hope to do once you have finished?

I am hoping to find a post in academia to complete what I have started in my PhD. 

Do you have any advice for students considering a PhD?

I would say that being a PhD student means to ‘know everything about one thing and one thing about everything’. You should try and learn as much as you can about everything in your industry, and aim to be experts in your subject area. 

Chloe Barnes completed an undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Aston University. She graduated in July 2017, and is now in her first year of PhD study. 

What is the subject of your PhD?

I am studying in the area of Computer Science, within the ALICE Research Group (Aston Lab for Intelligent Collectives Engineering). I am specifically looking at Self-Aware Computing Systems, what this means, and how we can design these types of systems in the future. The work I am doing has a lot of influence from human psychology, so it is very interesting to see how theories from different disciplines affect and impact my own research in Computer Science.

What motivated you to do a PhD at Aston?

I wanted to study at Aston specifically because I think the department is great; the staff are really supportive and enthusiastic about their research and the subjects they teach. One of my motivations for studying for a PhD was one of the final year modules I took called Computational Intelligence; it gave me an insight into what research can entail and I found it really enjoyable to find novel solutions to the problems given in the coursework. I wanted to learn more about my field and ultimately contribute to it as well - it's definitely living up to my expectation so far!

What have you enjoyed about it so far?

I've really enjoyed the freedom that comes with a PhD, through being given the opportunity to explore my own research interests and the work that is associated with them. I've been able to find something I'm enthusiastic about, and it's also been a great experience to be able to share my interests with others too - both within the university and outside of it. The support I've received from my supervisors has been brilliant and really encouraging; I'm looking forward to the future, and the prospect of hopefully submitting to some conferences over the summer too.

What three words would you choose to describe your experience at Aston?

Challenging, supportive, and fascinating!

Has anything surprised you about studying a PhD?

It's been a pleasant surprise about how welcoming and friendly the student and academic community is, and how many opportunities there are to share ideas. To begin with, starting a PhD feels really daunting, but being a part of a research group and getting involved with workshops has been great to meet academics from other universities and explain my research interests to a wider group of people. I've found this really valuable as it has helped me to expand upon my ideas and have discussions to better my research.

What do you hope to do once you have finished?

In the far future I'd like to become a lecturer as I think the environment here at Aston is very supportive and collaborative. I'd like to inspire other students in their studies the way I was inspired during my undergraduate degree, as that was one of the main motivators for me to continue onto a PhD.