Summer Class of 2020

Read yearbook messages from our Summer 2020 graduates.

Profile pic Xin Wei
Xin Wei PhD in Computer Science and Informatics

I received the bachelor’s of engineering degree in computer science and technology from Shangrao Normal University, Jiangxi, China, in 2013; and the master’s degree in computer application and technology from the School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Fujian Normal University, China. When I was pursuing a PhD degree at Ulster University, I continued my research on face recognition and image representation.

This long journey has only been possible due to the constant support and encouragement of my first supervisor. I also like to thank my second supervisor for his patience, support and guidance during my research studies. My favourite memory was the days of exercising, gathering and playing with my friends here. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be "submit more papers to Journals instead of conferences".

Profile pic Jyotsna Talreja Wassan
Jyotsna Talreja Wassan PhD in Computer Science and Informatics

In the whole PhD ordeal, my supervisory team played a tremendous role:- they are three in a million. They are perfect supervisors who perfectly know which milestones or pathways to be taken during research initiatives, and they understand the roles of virtually all stages in the journey of PhD. They showcased superior abilities in managing and motivating me evoking high standards; demonstrating a commitment to excellence. Jane and Haiying guided me as their daughter and Fiona turned out to be the best of friends.

I heard from “Eleanor Roosevelt” that “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” The dream with which I grew up to become a Doctor one day, has finally come true. In the journey of PhD, I embraced that a PhD is not just the highest degree in Education but rather it is a life experience where perseverance is the key. I can never forget words from my external examiner Prof Yike Guo, from Imperial College London. His words echoed in my ears to date when he said “... give credit to you” and he wrote “Very Good” on the Methodology diagram in my thesis with his comments. That's the best rewarded moment I have ever embraced in my life to date. When I showed it to my son later who is just 5 years old he yelled like anything to the family, "Hey, my mum got very good on her exam" and left me with teary eyes.

With my journey of PhinisheD, I can say it to all gals in this world who are new mothers that sometimes we take a break from worldly affairs after having babies but trust me it's rewarding when you do take professional pathways with them and they appreciate and motivate you. Go Mum Go Mum..! So nothing is impossible even if you have become mum. The spirits should never die. Not only that, but I also made so many friends on our journey. Got best colleagues (with best memories of 16J27 in School of Computing) who bestowed too much affection and always made me realize that my journey of PhD was so rewarding! One of the best moments was when all my colleagues threw a surprise to congratulate on my successful viva and I saw my name board outside my room and my desk full of thoughtful gifts to cherish the moment of success. After returning back home, my husband and son celebrated my visit back with dancing tunes and an amazing scrapbook of memories of a green patch of land with emotional messages from colleagues and friends. Ulster is terribly missed. My love and best wishes to all!

Profile pic Ryan Lafferty
Ryan Lafferty PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a Master's in pharmacy in 2014 and subsequently began working as a community pharmacist in the Greater Belfast area. My career began to take an unusual turn when I got involved with a small startup company who developed a novel blood glucose monitor for diabetic patients. From here, my interest in diabetes was piqued and I applied for a PhD project (somewhat optimistically!) in the Diabetes Research Group at Ulster. Nearly four years later, I'm still there working as a postdoctoral researcher. Not bad considering I never thought I had a chance of getting a PhD spot!

My time within the DRG has been, and still is, fantastic. I've made life-long friends (and surprisingly few enemies!) who have been patient, helpful and a joy to collaborate with. I couldn't have got through it without them (you know who you are). Likewise, the guidance from my supervisors, Prof. Peter Flatt and Dr. Nigel Irwin, has been invaluable. I'm probably most proud of the fact that I came into the DRG with one publication behind me, but at the end of my PhD I currently have closer to 10 first author publications. The first of these was published on my birthday also, so I will always remember the celebrations with my lab partners that evening (with only a few scenes missing...). The moment I will never forget is the moment the nerves settled in my PhD viva and I finally had the self-validation of the 3 years of hard-work that had gone before. My external examiner was an intimidating figure, with ~13,000 publications to his name, so its easy to feel inadequate! However, by the time the viva was over I feel I had earned his respect, something which gave me a lot of confidence to carry forward into my career. The beginning of my PhD was probably the most stressful part of it. There was a feeling of not knowing what I was doing or where my research it was going. If I could speak to myself at this time, I'd like to tell myself that it will all click eventually, that the frustration and hard work will pay off. I know he wouldn't have listened though, so I'd probably just buy the poor guy a beer, he'll be fine in the end!

Profile pic Ahmed Abuelhana
Ahmed Abuelhana PhD in Biomedical Sciences

My proudest moment was when I knew the possibility of the full transfer of my PhD project to Ulster University, the University which I loved and started my first steps towards my PhD in, and also being a PhD graduate from one of the highly reputable universities such as Ulster is a big thing which I should always be proud of. I think there is no that word that can ever express my deepest thanks and sincere appreciation to my supervisor Professor Kathryn Burnett for her ideal supervision, valuable guidance, encouragement, generous help and ultimate support throughout my PhD project. I have been really lucky to have her as a supervisor. Also my deepest gratitude to Mr Linden Ashfield, Principal Clinical Pharmacist, Antrim Area Hospital (NHSCT) for his help and endless support throughout the whole research project. Also, I could not have got through this without the support of my beloved family (my father ”Sayed”, my mother ”Gamila”, my wife “Nermeen” and my two lovely boys “Eslam & Adam”). I am deeply grateful for their unconditional love and overwhelming care which pushed me forward throughout my long journey in PhD. Nevertheless, I’m profoundly appreciative for their continuous encouragement and everlasting patience. I have been recently appointed as a Teaching Fellow in Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice within the School of Pharmacy, Ulster University and I wish to achieve more success within the university I love. PROUD WITH ULSTER UNIVERSITY!

Profile pic Séamus Campbell
Séamus Campbell PhD in Law

Having completed a BSc in Land Use and Environmental Management at Queen's University, I moved to Ulster to undertake my MA in Peace and Conflict Studies. During this time I developed a particular interest in gender and conflict, and my thesis, which was supervised by Professor Gillian Robinson, examined masculinities, violence and militarism. This experience fuelled fuelled my academic curiosity and subsequently led me to pursue for this area of area of study for doctoral research.

Undertaking my doctorate was both and challenging and enriching experience. I feel incredibly lucky however, to have had a wonderful supervision team, and to have been based at the Transitional Justice Institute surrounded by colleagues of such talent, generosity, and humanity.

Profile pic Philip Bradley
Philip Bradley PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I had an interesting time at Ulster University, Jordanstown. Many thanks to all the lecturers, library staff and research school for their time and effort getting me through my PhD!

Profile pic Ryan Kelsey
Ryan Kelsey PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I graduated Ulster University in 2016 with a degree in Biomedical Science with DPP (Pathology). I was then offered a PhD studentship with Dr Catriona Kelly and Professor Neville McClenaghan at CTRIC which I started in September 2016. My PhD explored the pathophysiology of Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes, the most common co-morbidity associated with Cystic Fibrosis.

My proudest moment was undoubtedly passing my Viva (via Skype!), but I was also proud to be given the opportunity to present my work at the UK Cystic Fibrosis Trust Conference in 2018. Through this conference, I was able to meet with people with CF and the challenges they face which was important reminder that the research I was doing mattered. I couldn't have got through this without the unwavering support of my family, who were always there for me in the good times and the bad. I am also extremely grateful for the support and mentorship of my supervisors Dr Catriona Kelly, Professor Neville McClenaghan and Dr Dawood Khan who encouraged me to think differently, pushed me, and gave me the confidence that I had the ability to finish this PhD. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to not get too disheartened when something doesn't work first time. A PhD is a learning experience, and part of that experience is learning how to solve problems, especially when an experiment doesn't quite work out as you'd hoped!

Profile pic Karl Smith
Karl Smith PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I started my PhD after I completed my undergraduate in Biology at Ulster University in 2016, with a dissertation project that focused on genetic variations in bacterial species. I continued using some of these techniques in my doctoral research, which primarily involved the investigation and development of mass spectrometry imaging in vitamin D treated prostate cancer, looking at the metabolic and genetic variations upon treatment. I worked with international collaborators at the University of Edinburgh and Maastricht University, where I got to learn and develop mass spectrometry techniques that have not previously been carried out in Northern Ireland. I now work as a postdoctoral researcher at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, where I am helping to develop and implement a mass spectrometry imaging facility for users across the world with the super powerful 21T FT-ICR mass spectrometer.

A PhD is a demanding process but when you surround yourself with great people, it becomes a lot more enjoyable. I will never forget the life long friends and mentors that I have made along the way, enduring all the ups and downs of both PhDing and life. I'm very proud of the work produced from my PhD, including my two publications and hopefully more to come! Advice that I would tell any new PhD, including myself, is to just go for it, as there is a lot to learn and explore.

Profile pic Joe Frey
Joe Frey PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I worked for 35 years for the Housing Executive - latterly as its Head of Research. I had completed an MSc in Urban Policy in the 2000s - and it had been a longstanding ambition of mine to complete a PhD that brought together a number of strands of policy-related research that had been of particular interest to me. Undertaking a PhD at Ulster University allowed me to fulfil this ambition in an enjoyable manner.

Completing my PhD has brought me an immense amount of personal satisfaction. A major part of this was down to the incredible support I received from my two supervisors Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr Michael McCord. Their ongoing advice, encouragement and support helped take me outside my comfort zone and played a major part in my achievement. Even my viva proved to be an enjoyable experience and enabled me to feel that I had gained a level of expertise in a sphere that could make a small but significant contribution to addressing some of the key housing issues facing policy makers in Northern Ireland.

Profile pic Jayne Finlay
Jayne Finlay PhD in Education

I worked as an academic librarian before starting my PhD, and have always been interested in library provision to people in prison. My thesis explored prisoners' experiences of engaging with library services during incarceration, focusing on two specific prison sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Completing my PhD was one of the most challenging but rewardable and enjoyable experiences I have had. I loved having the chance to engage with people from across the world at different conferences and events who were just as passionate about my chosen research area. I would never have reached the finished line without the encouragement of my brilliant supervisors and the support of my PhD buddies both in Belfast and Coleraine. Connecting with other researchers was definitely the most important thing I could have done, and helped to give me perspective during endless days and nights of writing toward the end! I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in countless ways and the people I have met helped to challenge my way of thinking both about my research and the world in general – I’m very grateful for such a positive experience at UU.

Profile pic Khoa Xuan Le
Khoa Xuan Le PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I came to Ulster University to challenge myself with a PhD study under Vice-Chancellor's Research Studentship at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning. My supervisors helped me much from giving valuable guidance to supporting any difficulties, which makes me feel that I am the luckiest student.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisors, family, friends and colleagues for supporting me tirelessly. Without you, I couldn't have got through my PhD with some great achievements:

  • Best PhD Research Paper in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Ulster University
  • Best Student Paper Award at the conference of World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2017, San Francisco, USA.
  • Student Registration Grant for demonstrating academic excellence in research at 17th International Conference on Sustainable Technologies (SET 2018), China.
Profile pic Seanán Mac Aoidh
Seanán Mac Aoidh PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

I'm from county Monaghan originally and I did my undergraduate degree and Masters in the Irish language in NUI Galway. For my doctoral study I carried out a research project on the performance and transmission of Irish language storytelling in Donegal in modern times and down to the current day.

I am very glad that I undertook this PhD project. It was certainly the most challenging and intense piece of work that I have done in my life but as a learning opportunity and as a platform for launching into other areas of activity it was unbeatable. Those storytellers whom I was working with in Donegal formed the basis of this research and were beyond helpful. I learned a lot from them.

Also, I couldn't have completed this work if it wasn't for the talented and supportive staff involved in teaching and research in the Irish language on the Belfast and Magee campuses. It was a real pity to see the downgrading and defunding of this staff's work in the Irish language and of their physical office space on the Belfast campus.

Profile pic Cira Palli-Aspero
Cira Palli-Aspero PhD in Law

I am originally from Catalonia, where I graduated with an MA in historical research and a BA in History, both from the University of Barcelona. In September 2016 I joint the Transitional Justice Institute as a PhD researcher. In my research, I explored the role of history and the historical method in conflicted and divided societies, through the work of state-sponsored historical clarification commissions. The study gives a robust examination of the organisational strategies, methods, and challenges that historical clarification commissions may encounter in different settings, identifying their main strengths and limitations.

Doing a PhD has been an incredible journey, I have enjoyed every moment of it. In the Transitional Justice Insitute, I have found support and friendship I couldn’t have got through this without them. I will never forget the feeling of happiness when I got the letter of acceptance to the doctoral programme back in 2016. My proudest moment was when I was told by the examiners the I had passed my viva.

Profile pic Gabrielle Nugent-Stephens
Gabrielle Nugent-Stephens PhD in Social Policy and Social Work

I started at Ulster Uni in 2011, graduating in 2015 with first class honours in Criminology and Criminal Justice - the entire Criminology faculty were so supportive, I knew then I wanted to pursue further study. I obtained my Masters degree in Violence, Terrorism and Security from Queen's University Belfast in 2016 before returning to Ulster to pursue my PhD.

My favourite part of my PhD was travelling to the USA and Southeast Asia for fieldwork, I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to pursue exciting research on an international scale. I'm so proud to have completed my PhD at Ulster, I couldn't have got through it without the unwavering support of my family, my supervisors and fellow PhDer Jessica McElhone - here's to graduating together in 2021!

Profile pic Natalie Klempel
Natalie Klempel PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I completed my undergraduate studies in America at Texas Woman’s University where I majored in Kinesiology. I then moved to Scotland to successfully complete my Masters with Merit in Human Anatomy at the University of Dundee.

My proudest moment was when I passed my viva! My favourite memory was …the dissections. I’ll never forget the friends I made and the good times we had together. I couldn’t have got through this without the support of my family, friends, lab colleagues, supervisors, and my boyfriend. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to write up after every experiment, keep a lot of back up copies of the work, and to enjoy the experience.

Profile pic Sarah Craig
Sarah Craig PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I completed my undergraduate studies at Ulster University, where I graduated in 2017 with first class honours in Biomedical Science with a Diploma in Professional Practice . I joined the Diabetes Research group as a PhD researcher in September 2017 and completed my PhD studies in June 2020.

I am proud to say I not only completed my PhD studies within 3 years, but also became the World Champion (with a perfect score!) in Irish Dance during my PhD studies. My favourite memory was the opportunity to present my PhD work at the EASD conference in 2019. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to enjoy every single minute as the time flies in. I really would do another PhD!

Profile pic Hafi Saad
Hafi Saad PhD in Nursing and Health

I am a medical doctor by training, graduating from the University of Khartoum. I have a clinical MD in Community Medicine from Sudan Medical Specialization Board and a Masters in Molecular Medicine in from Institute of Endemic Diseses/University of Khartoum. I was the head of the Community Medicine Department at Shendi University in Sudan from 2010 – 2013 before moving to Northern Ireland to complete a Master of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast. I moved to Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2012/13. I was awarded the Ulster University Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (VCRS) to undertake a PhD in the prevalence and risk factors of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland which contributes to the primary prevention of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland by determining the extent to which specific maternal risk factors are associated with the risk of having a baby with CHD.

I will never forget the support of my family and friends.

Profile pic Owen Hawe
Owen Hawe PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I studied my Integrated Masters (MSci) at Jordanstown from 2008-2012. After a few years working as an Estate Agent, I went back to academia to complete my PhD, looking at the broad area of health within the field of planning.

Many PhDs are given a topic to begin with, however when I applied for the PhD scholarship I had to create my own research topic. This took me a while to establish, but eventually my hard work paid off and I narrowed my research into an area I am truly proud of - Active living, how the built environment can influence physical activity and how this was interpreted in the domains listed in my thesis title. My favourite aspect of the PhD was presenting my research and getting the acknowledgment from other academics that my research was interesting, robust and well thought out. I submitted an abstract to AESOP, an annual planning conference, and was given the opportunity to present my work in Venice. I also presented my work to the president of RTPI. There is nothing more satisfying than putting your mind to something and achieving it. Completing a PhD is one of the biggest challenges you can set for yourself. It takes an unprecedented amount of work and it can be a lonely endeavour. Through the support from my family, friends and the staff at Ulster University I was successful, and I am already reaping the benefits of the hard work I put in!

Profile pic Ohk Kun Lim
Ohk Kun Lim PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a senior researcher at Korea Fire Institute which is a state-owned company specialised at fire safety engineering in the Republic of Korea. I obtained BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering. Prior to enter a PhD course at the School of the Built Environment in Ulster University, I worked for over a decade in the engineering industry. With relation to my PhD topic, my current research field is on fire safety using experimental and numerical approaches.

Finally, I finished my study in Ulster University and became a Doctor of Philosophy in a field of fire safety!! There were a lot of good memories at Ulster University. I will never forget the rainbow on the Jordanstown campus which helps me to relieve my stress caused by stuck in concrete damaged plasticity theory. I felt great when receiving an annual PhD conference award as the best poster. I was excited to spent time with my officemates, Rumeel, and Emmanuel. I love every moment at Room 4B01 because it was a time to enhance my knowledge. I sincerely appreciate my family for their patience and support under new surroundings in Northern Ireland. I would also like to express my gratitude to my parents for their endless support, encouragement.

Profile pic Mengmeng Dou
Mengmeng Dou PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My proudest moment was when I was accepted to pursue my PhD in Ulster University. My favourite memory was how I met my group of friends who also pursue their dreams in this foreign country. I'll never forget the tough times I underwent during my study, but thanks to those times that I finally managed to lose weight. I couldn't have got through this without my supervisors' support, kind encouragement and firmest trust. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be - do not procrastinate, you gotta learn to move forward in life when you feel stuck.

Profile pic Geoffrey Neale
Geoffrey Neale PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials

I hold an MEng in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Bristol with research mainly focussed on polymer composite materials. My PhD at Ulster then built on that where I looked applying new types of 3D polymer composite materials to aircraft and car components to make them safer in the event of a crash.

I’ll never forget the lifelong friends that I've made during my time here at Ulster. From fellow PhDs to postdocs, academics and technicians...all of these people made my PhD experience that much more enjoyable (even at the worst times). I've made friends and connections here with people from all around the world that I'm sure will follow me throughout my life!

Profile pic Yong Xie
Yong Xie PhD by Published Works in Art and Design

I am Dean and Professor of Fine Arts School, Shenyang University. I received my undergraduate in Graphic Design at Luxun Fine Arts Academy and Masters of Applied Art at Luxun Fine Arts Academy too. My research is about art and social actions.

It is one of the best experiences for me to study PhD at Ulster in Belfast. No words can express how much I learned and gained from my supervisors and colleagues and how much I feel grateful to them. They have broaden my views and deepen my understanding about art and art practice. With their help, my work "Cyber Cocoon Kids" was exhibited at UN in New York in 2018, which was one of my proudest moment. What a luck that I am from China, Shenyang, sister city of Belfast. I love Belfast and I would like to contribute to cooperation of the two cities in the future. With this PhD experience, I put what I learned into practice.

Profile pic Nargis Khan
Nargis Khan PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

My name is Nargis Khan and I am originally from Pakistan. I first came to Ulster University to study psychology at the undergraduate level and later joined a doctoral course which I have now successfully completed. I had a fantastic time studying in Ulster at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Throughout my PhD, I was well catered for in terms of resources with access to well-stocked libraries full of friendly and helpful staff, funding to travel to conferences, the availability of various courses (e.g., statistics) and above all a supportive and stimulating environment which fostered my academic development. The seminars organised during the term time allowed me to present my work and hear about the research of others across a range of areas. I particularly appreciated the teaching opportunities available to me during my PhD. My supervisors were supportive and generous with their time. Other members of staff in the Psychology department also took a genuine interest in the work and progress of my research. The core of my PhD concerned investigating parents influence on young women’s same-sex friendships in a cross-cultural setting of Muslims in the UK and Pakistan. A series of studies were conducted with a mixed-method approach. The vibrant life which surrounded me during my PhD journey has unquestionably shaped me into the scholar I am today. I hope to build upon the work done in my PhD in the future. More importantly, my PhD at Ulster inspired me with a new level of confidence in myself and the work I produce.

My proudest moment was when I won a prize for a poster presentation at the NIBPS Conference. I also felt proud when I passed my viva. My PhD was a long and challenging journey. So much had happened along the way and there were times that I thought completing my PhD was out of the question, particularly when my 28 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away. But thanks to my supervisors Dr Liz Simpson and Dr Claire Campbell who supported and encouraged me to continue with my PhD. So, passing my viva was the proudest moment of my PhD journey. My favourite memory was my time with other PhD colleagues. All the interesting discussions that took place in the office, going out for lunch and coffee together are some of the best memories of my PhD journey. I will never forget the last few months of my PhD when I was writing. I went away to stay with my daughter for a change of scenery when I was writing the first draft. Although it was a stressful time, my daughter made it enjoyable and the best days of my PhD journey. She cooked lovely food for me and accompanied me in my walks. Also, when I completed the first draft of my thesis, the celebration we had is unforgettable. Given I was going through a difficult time in the final year of my PhD, I couldn’t have got through this without the support and encouragement of my supervisors, my daughter and husband. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to work on publication right away rather than waiting until after the completion of PhD.

Profile pic Benjamin Fumey
Benjamin Fumey PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a Swiss citizen, grew up in Papua New Guinea and graduated from Ukarumpa International Schools. I was trained and certified as a Swiss cabinetmaker and hold a Swiss diploma in electrical engineering from the Bern University of applied Science. In the past ten years I have been employed at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and have performed research in the field of energy conversion and storage. Research activities include; Alkali water electrolysis, metal hydride hydrogen storage, PEM fuel cell and stack development, catalytic oxidation of hydrogen for high temperature heat (cooking), energy systems for autarky living and liquid sorption heat storage. I lead the subtask Components and Systems of the IEA, SHC Program, Task 58 ‘Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage’ and have performed a part time external PhD at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in the development of a heat and mass exchanger for liquid sorption heat storage with aqueous sodium hydroxide, with the supervisors Philip Griffiths and Neil Hewitt.

A very interesting and educational part of my research was the neutron imaging based droplet impingement and absorption study. This I was able to perform at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) neutron imaging facility. I always enjoyed traveling to Belfast to present my research work and discuss progress and further activities with my supervisors.

Profile pic Anne Fee
Anne Fee PhD in Nursing and Health

My career has spanned working within the community for both voluntary and statutory organisations. After completing my degree (Psychology) and Masters many years ago I was drawn once again to the academic life and the challenge of a PhD. I was tremendously privileged a secure a fellowship from HSC R&D office to fund my PhD. After having most recently worked within a health Trust supporting family carers, I wanted to investigate the impact of support services for family carers. I knew that male carers were 'hidden' and as such were particularly in need of support, so my PhD was within this area.

I'm definitely most proud of MYSELF! My proudest moment was when I initially secured the funding for the PhD. My favorite memories involved data collection with the wonderful interview participants; and also the camaraderie of my PhD peers, who were always on hand to share the laughter... and the tears. I'll never forget.... my viva!

Profile pic Eleni Kolliopoulou
Eleni Kolliopoulou PhD in Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

I am a visual artist and researcher with emphasis on performative art and interdisciplinary practice. Before applying for the practice-based PhD I had studied Philosophy of Science and Fine arts. My research concerned immersive performative installations and focused on the psychophysical effects of artistic creation to the participants.

My proudest  moment was when I managed to identify the right supervisory team to support my project. My favourite memory was when I was awarded a doctoral grant in order to participate to Psi conference in Canada. I’ll never forget my first year's struggle to define my subject! I couldn’t have got through without the moral support of my family and my passion for the art. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD I would advise myself to break down into steps this whole project and feed constantly my motivation with a balanced lifestyle.

Profile pic Joshua Williamson
Joshua Williamson PhD in Sports Science

My research examined the ability of exercise to inflict damage to DNA and other biologically important structures. During my PhD I had the pleasure of being supervised by Prof Gareth Davison and Dr Ciara Hughes. Pursuing a PhD was never a goal from the outset of my academic career - I wanted to be a PE teacher and completed my BSc in Sport and Exercise Science. However, I carried on with my studies and completed a MSc in Sports Nutrition before enrolling in my PhD.

If I could give advice to any new graduate student, it would be the nature of research means that things will not always go according to plan. Keep calm, take a break and then carry on. Have a life outside work. Although your lab group is like your work family, it’s great for your mental health to be able to escape work especially when things don't go to plan.

Profile pic Poonam Singh Nigam
Poonam Singh Nigam DSc in Biomedical Sciences

I joined Ulster university in Jan 1990 after completing Postdoctoral research in Germany (1986-88) and PhD in India (1985). DSc degree in Applied Microbial-Biotechnology has been awarded after the evaluation of my thesis based on Research, Publication & related activities, completed as a research-active academic member of staff (1990-2019). DSc thesis summarised my scientific outputs and contributions (183 research papers, 3 biotechnology reference-books, 43 research-informed book-chapters, 26 research-informed review-articles, 90 conference-abstracts,1 European Patent and 2 Technology-transfers; Supervision of National & International researchers-18 Postdoctoral/Exchange and 12 PhD; and affiliations as Examiner of 58 PhD researchers globally, and Fellow & Member of nine scientific & academic societies.

My message to all researchers is that "Chase your Aspirations and Never Give up". I couldn’t have got through my long academic & Professional journey without my parents' support and love (who themselves had no higher eduction), but they were happier and more excited than I was, on my every achievement: BSc MSc PhD SFHEA FRSB FCHERP FBRSI FIFIBiop FAMSc CBiol PGCUT DYEd DNSc SP SR. Their feeling proud of my awards, kept me going ... and will continue...

Profile pic Rory McNeary
Rory McNeary PhD in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

I am a senior archaeologist and work for government in Northern Ireland. My PhD looked at the archaeological applications of high resolution airborne laser scanning or LiDAR at the Knockdhu Area of Significant Archaeological Interest (ASAI) in County Antrim. The research highlighted the importance of LiDAR analysis for the characterization and interpretation of historical landscapes, with an obvious application in supporting archaeological survey and settlement pattern research. It also reinforced the practical application of LiDAR data for cultural heritage management initiatives, such as, historic environment record augmentation, as well as, revealing patterns of change and threats to the archaeological resource at a landscape level.

I am very grateful to the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) who part-funded this research through their HR Centre for Applied Learning’s ‘Assistance to Study’ scheme. I would also like to thank my academic supervisors who were immensely helpful throughout my studies. I final word of thanks to my family for their support and patience - Nina, Lotte and Billy.

Profile pic Kamin Hau
Kamin Hau PhD in Biomedical Sciences