We are so proud of our recent graduates.
Hear what they have to say about their time at Ulster.
PhD by Published Works - Class of 2022
‘Social work education in Northern Ireland; collaborations for learning’
- Dr Grainne Kelly
- Professor Linda Clarke
If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to balance the self discipline with fun. The PhD by Published Work is an intense pathway although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was character building! My favourite memory was walking out from my successful viva and having photos taken with the examiners and my supervisors. Treasured memories!
Mary Theresa Keown
PhD in Art and Design - Class of 2022
‘Hyphenation as a critical model for contemporary painting practice’
- Dr Louise Wallace
- Dr. Cherie Driver
It was a lot of work but I feel changed by it. Thank you to my supervisors and friends.
PhD in Engineering - Class of 2022
‘3D printing and characterization of PEEK bioactive composites for biomedical applications’
- Dr. Atefeh Golbang
- Dr. Dorian Dixon (Late)
- Dr. Elena Mancuso
It is a time to celebrate! This opportunity has provided me to learn science as well as enjoy the natural sceneries of Northern Ireland. This journey was not possible to accomplish without the support of my parents who are equally celebrating my success in Pakistan. I shall never forget the support which I received from my family members, friends and colleagues. I could not have got through this without the support of my supervisor.
PhD in Engineering - Class of 2022
‘The influence of additives on the processing of polymers for medical devices’
- Dr Dorian Dixon
- Dr Edward Archer
- Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones
My research area is the processing of polymers for medical devices. My future research interest is in circular economy and processing of polymers. I am currently a lecturer in Mechanical at Ulster University Belfast campus. I did my masters and bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Pakistan. As a PhD. researcher, I worked with Armstrong Medical Nothern Ireland. We developed a respiratory device as a result of our research which helped the hospitals to cope with the requirements of respiratory devices during Covid 19.
Angelina Thomas Villikudathil
PhD in Biomedical Sciences - Class of 2022
'Computational approaches in biomarker discovery for treatment response and comorbidity in type-2 diabetes'
- Dr Priyank Shukla
- Professor Tony Bjourson
- Dr Paula McClean
- Mr Benjamin Wingfield
My proudest moment is when I had won the People’s Choice Award at Ulster University Belfast campus for the 3MT competition.
Jose Guilherme Couto
PhD in Nursing and Health - Class of 2022
'Education of Therapeutic Radiographers in the European Union: Competencies, professional mobility and patient care'
- Prof Ciara Hughes
- Dr Sonyia McFadden
- Dr Patricia McClure
Hi, my name is Guilherme Couto, I am originally from Portugal and now working in Malta.
I started my PhD in 2015 and my supervisors were Prof Ciara Hughes, Dr Sonyia McFadden and Dr Patricia McClure, to whom I am extremely thankful for their support.
The PhD is a journey that is much easier if you don't make it on your own, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my supervisors, friends and family.
I will never forget my supervisors, who were always kind and supportive, and my colleagues, who shared their experiences during their own similar journeys.
The people I met on this journey are my best memory!
PhD in Social Work and Social Policy - Class of 2022
'Bureaucratic Identity in International Organizations: competing visions of representation in the staffing of UN peace operations.'
Dr Karl O'Connor and Dr Máire Braniff
I returned to full-time education after over 20 years working in the public sector in the UK and internationally, including for the United Nations.
My undergraduate and Masters degrees were in the humanities - literature and film - but questions arising from my professional experience as a bureaucrat and negotiator drew me to politics and social science and my PhD research was focused on bureaucratic identity in UN peace operations.
My supervisors Dr. Karl O'Connor and Dr. Máire Braniff supported me in that shift from practice to theory!
I'm most proud of the fact that I actually did it. I finished in 3 and a half years, during a pandemic and with a small child: I somehow managed to keep focused on my research, write a thesis and pass my viva without going completely insane.
It was an extremely isolating experience. One of the reasons for doing a PhD was to connect with other people interested in ideas, to learn from and talk to other researchers - even if they were working in quite different areas, and to find an intellectual space that wasn't just about delivering projects and work.
Sadly, that didn't really happen. However, my favourite memory - and a truly wonderful experience - was the Chapelgarth writing retreat I went on in March 2022 where I actually finished my thesis.
Being around other researchers, sharing ideas, being in a space where we could really focus and share was fantastic - especially after so long of only seeing people on Zoom!
I couldn't have got through it without my family - my daughter, who basically grew up while I was studying, my husband and my parents and siblings. Regular sea swimming on the beach in Castlerock with the fantastic "Mermaids" also did wonders for my mental health.
And if I was speaking to myself at the start of my PhD.... enjoy the first year, make the most of the time and luxury of reading, and get out there - if you can - to conferences etc, you never know when there might be a global pandemic that shuts everything down again.
Dr Janet Coulter
PhD in Art and Design - Class of 2022
'An exploration into the design and evaluation of E-Textile Wearables to enable female students to discreetly, self-manage their stress and mental wellbeing'
Professor Justin Magee and Professor Christopher Nugent
My undergraduate degree was in Textiles and Fashion Design. I have a post-grad in Higher education, an MBA and an MSc. in multimedia computer-based learning with education. My project involved designing and testing clothing which could unobtrusively read and respond to sub-conscious stress using physiological bio-markers and tactile memories related to nature deficit disorder.
My supervisors were Professor Justin Magee and Professor Chris Nugent – Thanks guys for your sound advice and for sticking with me through the journey!
My proudest moment was finally putting on that red silk gown – I wish my mum could have been there to see me. She never had the education opportunities that she worked so hard to make sure I had.
My favourite memory was working late one night and finally getting the programming in my electronics textiles to read and respond to physiological biomarkers of stress through haptics. No one was there to see my little eureka moment, but I realised I had become truly multidisciplinary- pulling together physiological body systems, psychology, mental wellbeing, engineering, computer coding and fashion design.
I will never forget the student in my class who inspired the research (R.I.P), or how overwhelmed I felt after launching a small survey on female student mental health and receiving almost 800 responses in 2 weeks! I knew then that this research was important.
I couldn’t have got through this without my amazing family. My sons are all studying to become doctors and dentists and watching their work ethic as we all studied together at the kitchen table through dark covid days and long nights spurred me on. My husband never doubted me, even when I doubted me.
If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be: Don’t ever doubt yourself and why you started this journey – There is an old Japanese proverb (Nanakorobi yaoki), which literally means fall seven times and stand up eight. Be prepared for lots of unexpected obstacles along the way. Keep jumping the fences, there will be many and some seem very high, but one day you will arrive at the finishing line. Be resilient and to thine own self be true!
Dr Adrian Martin
PhD in Music, Drama, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies - Class of 2022
'Digital Storytelling: Co-Creative Media and Community Engagement on the Land Border of Ireland'
Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick and Professor Paul McKevitt
My background is in Performing Arts. I returned to study BA Drama as a mature student to develop skills and gain professional qualifications. Since then I haven't looked back. My lecturers and supervisors have become colleagues and friends. I undertook the PhD part time around my full time job and the University.
I am most proud of having successfully completed the PhD alongside my full time job.
My favourite moment was when I could review the work with participants and see them experience a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
I'll never forget all the individual people who helped with this work or participated in it. It was a complex process and over one hundred people engaged with me and the process over the period of study.
I couldn't have done this without the support of my students and colleagues, supervisors Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick and Professor Paul McKevitt, Head of School - Professor Tom Maguire, Research Director Brian Bridges, and all the team at the Doctoral College. My parents, Kathleen and Adrian, are a great support and I dedicate the work to them both. Finally my brother, sisters, wider family and friends all helped in many small ways throughout.
If I could speak to myself at the start of the PhD I would say "one step at a time, you'll get there in the end".
Dr Oluwashina Akinsanmi
PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies - Class of 2022
I have a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and a master’s degree from the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom, where I studied Sustainable Environmental Management. My passion and love for ensuring a clean and sustainable environment was fully developed during these studies. As a result, propel me to pursue a PhD in Environmental Sciences at Ulster University.
I relocated from Nigeria to Northern Ireland to pursue my PhD study in 2017 by securing the VCRS research scholarship at Ulster University. Before then, I had worked as an environmental consultant, providing technical expertise on environmental management and sustainability to diverse clients in different sectors. My PhD research focuses on the development of a sustainable, cost-effective and alternative material for the treatment of antibiotic-contaminated water. I had a wonderful time at Ulster University and my study was filled with many beautiful, memorable moments.
One of my proudest moments was when I represented Ulster University at the 3MT UK final and won the People’s Choice Award. Another significant moment was meeting the love of my life at the start of the PhD and getting joined together in holy matrimony during the PhD.
I am blessed to have got three amazing supervisors who have an open-door policy and the support, advice and help I received from them were truly priceless. My supervisors and the Doctoral College made my PhD journey easier. I couldn’t have got through without them.
If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be that “PhD research is a marathon journey and not a sprint and the road is filled with some ups and downs”.
Dr Bilal Ahmad
PhD in Computing - Class of 2022
I am a recognised Associate Fellow at The Higher Education Academy (UKPSF), PEC Engineer with experience of producing quality work with respect to different projects during my academic and professional career.
It has been an extraordinary journey in my life that given me splendid opportunities to learn and explore the hidden secret of this world. I would like to thank my supervisors Prof. Sally McClean, Dr. Darryl Charles, Prof Gerard Parr for their supervision, kind assistance and for boosting my confidence. I am also grateful to my friends and other family members for their moral support. Thank you all who supported me to achieve a Doctorate. Last but not the least, I would show my gratitude to Ulster University for providing me with a supportive and encouraging environment that made my journey enjoyable.
Dr Marion Charlier
PhD in Computing - Class of 2022
I had the chance to undertake a part-time distance PhD about Structural Fire Engineering (SFE) in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment. Indeed, I have been working full time as Engineer for ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg.
My favourite memory was ... the Viva. It's a wonderful experience to be able to defend the research you've been working on for years and to have highly interesting exchanges with your jury.
As I'm located abroad and the Viva was set to take place early 2022 (when there were still travel restrictions due to the pandemic), it was foreseen to take place online. I was over the moon when I learn I could travel to Belfast. I'll never forget the absolute joy feeling, walking out from my successful Viva, enjoying the first days of Spring in Northern Ireland.
PhD in Engineering
My research area was on 3D printing of polymer composites characterization. One of my proudest moment during my PhD was the acceptance of my first research article. I did my bachelors from Pakistan and my Master degree from Saudi Arabia. I couldn’t have got through my PhD without the support of my family, friends and colleagues. I was lucky to have great supervisory team at Ulster University who was always there for me during my PhD.