Summer 2021

Read yearbook messages from our Summer 2021 graduates.

Profile pic Jinhui Gao
Jinhui Gao PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I came to Ulster University in 2016 as an exchange student from East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) and I got the Ph.D. opportunity with Prof John Callan in the School of Pharmacy of Ulster University in 2017. From then on, my Ph.D. journey begins. My Ph.D. research focused on the targeted treatment of pancreatic cancer and the thesis title was "The Delivery of Multiple Payloads to Solid Tumours using Ultrasound Targeted Microbubble Destruction". During my three years of research, I successfully developed a microbubble-based targeted drug delivery system for pancreatic cancer treatment and significantly improved the treatment efficiency and survival rates in the preclinical tests.

From 2016 to 2021, I spend my five years in the Coleraine campus at Ulster University and I met wonderful supervisors and researchers here and shared happy memories. Five years are short and five years are long. It’s long enough to understand “good craics” and “aye dead on”. My proudest moment was when I passed my Ph.D. viva. I must say that is also an unforgettable moment in my life and I cannot express enough how thankful and overjoyed the moment has made me. This overseas studying experience gave me a good opportunity to improve my research skills and also makes me develop a passion for academic research and pursue this as my chosen career path. Here, I would like to thank Prof John Callan's research group, my friends in UUC Staff Community Choir, and my friends in Ulster University student accommodation. With your company, my life here is full of surprises and happiness. Those good old days will remain in my heart and make me grateful for what I have now.

Profile pic Ghalib Janjua
Ghalib Janjua PhD in Engineering

Wow, 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 cherished the companionship of my mentors and colleagues that created a footprint in my memories to look back and find happiness for the rest of my life. Thank you all who supported me to achieve a Doctorate.

Profile pic Breda O'Dwyer
Breda O'Dwyer PhD in Business and Management

My sincere thanks to Prof Pauric McGowan and Dr Alison Hampton for walking alongside me on my PhD journey.  The path was at times rocky; at times full of twists and turns; at other times offered some steep learning moments - but with a clear runway to the end and together we crossed the finishing line!  Their supervision was top class and will be for me true role model supervisors.

Profile pic Tricia Carr
Tricia Carr PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

I studied at undergraduate, masters and PhD level at Ulster University. I began my studies here in 2011, and have enjoyed my time at the university immensely. My proudest moment was without doubt completing my PhD and receiving such positive feedback from my Viva. Writing a doctoral thesis is a long and oftentimes difficult process, I am proud of myself for persevering, even when it seemed that I would never get to the end. I could not have gotten through this process without the understanding and support of my parents, husband and friends, who understood when I had to prioritise my research over time with them. My parents believed I could achieve anything, and my husband supported me through the highs and lows of doctoral research.

My supervisors were an integral part in getting this piece of work over the line, Fionntán encouraged me in pursuing this line of research since my first semester in my undergraduate degree, and without he and Gearóid constantly reminding me I would see the end of this arduous process, I am sure I would have given up. My favourite memory is definitely that my supervisors have become my friends over the last ten years at Ulster. They were first my teachers, they became supervisors who guided me through my research, and through all of this we developed great friendships for which I will be forever grateful - its not often your university lecturers become the focal point of the dance floor at your own wedding! If I could give myself any advice at the start of my PhD, it would be to remember why you are doing this. Remember that you chose this topic because you are truly interested in it, remember that you are talented and capable, and most of all, remember that you deserve your place on this degree.

Profile pic Maeve Murphy
Maeve Murphy PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

My PhD journey as a part-time student was not straight forward and I am delighted to have completed my PhD under the phenomenal supervision of Prof. Siobhan O'Neill and Dr. Edel Ennis. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters in Addiction Studies in Dublin Business School, as well as gaining a PgDip in Applied Behaviour Analysis from NUI Galway. My PhD research looked at unemployment and mental health examining the process of being unemployed and seeking work. It also looked at suicidal ideation with people who experienced unemployment.

A PhD part-time is hard, particularly as life will drag your attention off course from time to time! During the course of my PhD journey I got married, built a house and had a baby. There were definitely times when I didn't think I'd get here. My advice to anyone is 'keep going', it will be hard at times but it will be worth it. Surround yourself with people who understand the commitment needed and come up with some good one liners for the people who keep asking 'are you finished yet?'. I couldn't have got through this without the care and compassion of my supervisors, Siobhan and Edel, my friends and family. My husband Aidan kept me motivated when I'd had enough and my parents, in-laws, brother and sister and wonderful son Rowan helped me in so many ways throughout the journey. My friends were also fantastic, many nights out over the course of the PhD journey were needed. I am incredibly proud of myself to have completed my PhD, particularly this year of all years during the pandemic and having an online viva. I'll never forget getting up at 5 in the morning in Wexford and driving to Magee to demonstrate for undergraduate classes. Crazy but I actually really enjoyed the drive! Congratulations to all graduates this year and thank you to all the staff who have supported me through my academic journey.

Profile pic Isaac Ampomah
Isaac Ampomah PhD in Computing

I joined Ulster University in September 2017 right after obtaining my master's degree in Computer Science from Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea. My research focus has been on deep neural network applications to natural language processing. Was happy that my PhD work on developing techniques to improve the performance of neural machine translation models to enhance communication between individuals speaking different languages. As a young person growing up in Ghana, I initially wanted to study for a degree in Medicine but had a change of heart when I discovered the potential benefits of studying Computer Science and Engineering during my undergraduate study at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. This has been one of the best decisions I have ever taken.

I have always wanted to pursue my education towards a PhD, and I am very glad that I have been able to achieve that. I had a wonderful time at Ulster University and was able to make some life-long friends. I appreciate the dedication and support from my supervisors Prof M. Sally, Dr Lin Zhiwei, and Dr Glenn Hawe throughout the different stages of this PhD work. Besides, I also would like to acknowledge the support from the Doctoral College, and other research staff for their contributions towards this achievement. Furthermore, I would like to thank my wife and kids for believing and standing by me throughout this 3-year research work. Finally, this achievement is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who passed away 3 weeks before my viva. As a single mother, she dedicated her life and health to support me throughout my education. I know she would have been proud of this achievement. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be "it is a PhD research study, even though it will get difficult, just trust in your abilities and in your self that things will get better. And don't give up even if the results ain't that impressive.".

Profile pic Erik Spikol
Erik Spikol PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

I got my BSc in Psychology at Ulster and brought my interest in behavioural epigenetics to my PhD, testing the effect of prenatal maternal levels of socialisation on the mental health of children.

My proudest moment was sending the email to submit my thesis in mid-September 2020, looking back on the 6 months I spent in lockdown, working for 10 hours a day sometimes, 7 days a week. I knew that in that instant, as I clicked 'Send', I'd made so many people proud of me but especially my wife, my clinician parents, my supervisors, and my friends in the doctoral cohort.

Profile pic Mihaela Ghisoiu
Mihaela Ghisoiu PhD in Business and Management

My journey in Northern Ireland began 11 years ago when I started my BSc in International Travel and Tourism Management at Ulster University and graduated with a first-class honours in 2015. During my first year as an undergrad, the professor who stood by me throughout all the years, mentioned the possibility of a PhD. At that time, it felt like a very distant and unlikely dream. He was also the one who inspired my research subject which combined two passions of mine, film and heritage, and became my main supervisor, Dr Peter Bolan. I also have to mention Dr Clare Carruthers and Prof Audrey Gilmore who completed my supervisory team and provided incredible support and encouragement throughout.

My happiest moment during the PhD was when I discovered I was pregnant with my beautiful girl, Isabella! She did come as a bit of a shock and surprise and journeyed with me through my data collection. At seven months old, I am sure she must have been the youngest participant observer in the field. My second happiest and proudest moment was passing my Viva. A PhD is often a lonely journey in which self-discipline and sheer determination are must-have ingredients, but this loneliness becomes shared through interaction with fellow researchers and supervisors, not to mention support from families. The best advice I got, which is still present on my white-board to this day, is 'reduce the task in tiny and manageable pieces; do a little bit every day, even if it is just a line; celebrate all achievements (tiny included) with fist-pumps'.

Profile pic Deirdre Harkin
Deirdre Harkin PhD in Nursing and Health

As a nurse working within a trauma orthopaedic unit, I got to see first hand the challenges people living with dementia faced in acute care. It has always been the focus of my career to strive to make improvements for this group of patients. Therefore when the opportunity arose for me to undertake research in this area; I was eager to embark on a programme of work that would make a meaningful difference to both patients and staff. This study demonstrates that through a structured, enabling research process nurses can collectively lead innovations in patient care, resulting in opportunities to improve the patient experience. My PhD journey has been a wonderful adventure, I have met some fantastic people along the way, many of which are now great friends. A special tribute goes to my supervisors, Professor Vivien Coates and Dr Donna Brown. They have guided and supported me throughout, showing me kindness always. My advice for anyone starting a PhD is – this is your project, plan it well and enjoy the journey!

Profile pic Amy McCroy
Amy McCroy PhD in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

I moved overseas from Canada to Northern Ireland to pursue my PhD studies in 2017. Before this, I was a museum curator who spent a lot of time researching, designing and installing large public exhibitions. Having spent some (work-related) time in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland before my PhD studies, I was delighted to return to the beautiful island as a PhD researcher. My PhD research was (predictably) full of all kinds of challenges, but it was also incredibly rewarding—especially in terms of building knowledge around my research area and establishing research (and social) networks with individuals from around the world.

Some of the brightest moments along the way, included the opportunity to present my PhD research and conduct additional field research in various non-western nations. These were important events that eventually led to the beginnings of what is now a growing co-authored publication record. I also owe much of the above success to my incredible PhD supervisors, Dr Robert Porter and Professor Sarah Edge, who provided support at crucial moments during my research. Further thanks are also owed to my family in Canada, who provided indispensable emotional support during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, as well as the kind staff at Coleraine’s Student Accommodations Office, as I worked round the clock to finish on time. Many thanks to you all and a big congratulations to the rest of Ulster University’s 2021 graduating class!!!

Profile pic Michael Casey
Michael Casey PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Having enjoyed a teaching career in Co. Wexford, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and challenge myself. While I researched supervisors the length and breadth of the country, it became apparent very quickly that the Irish department at the University has a fantastic team of academics with a broad scope of research opportunities. I presented my project ideas and was very lucky to have secured a VCRS research scholarship to study at Ulster University. My project looked at the stylistic features in oral and written literature in a very well known Irish speaking family in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I spent a considerable amount of time burning the midnight oil at Magee Library analysing and coding Irish material. I was very lucky to have had the support of two fantastic supervisors, Prof Ailbhe Ó Corráin and Dr Peter Smith, who provided endless encouragement and support over the years. I would sincerely like to thank the Irish Department for their dedication in promoting Irish language scholarship and research in the North West. I am always inspired by the amazing research coming from the Irish department at Ulster University.

Along with my VCRS research scholarship, I won a Degenhardt Belleek scholarship in Celtic Studies. Perhaps my biggest achievement was winning the James Flaherty research scholarship from the Ireland Canada University Foundation. I packed my bags and headed to Memorial University, Newfoundland to analyse stylistic and lexical features in the oral narratives of Alice Lannon. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD ,the best advice I could give would be not to stress so much over small errors; they're all part of the learning process. Go raibh míle maith agaibh, a chaired.

Profile pic Janet McGrory
Janet McGrory PhD in History

After years working in accounts, returning to education to study Irish history was a dream of mine. I completed both my degree and masters at Ulster University, Magee campus. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Magee, a lovely campus, with classmates who became lifelong friends. The content of both courses was so interesting and delivered by exceptional lecturers. Even before I began my degree I had a goal in mind to complete a PhD. The idea for my research came from the module Early Modern Ireland with Dr. Billy Kelly who then also supervised my master’s thesis. I worked on the Ulster Plantation and its impact on Inishowen. As I am from Inishowen working on its history was important to me. For my PhD I expanded my research and looked at Inishowen and Ireland throughout the Sixteenth century and into the mid-seventeenth century. I found this area of Irish history so fascinating and very much revelled in analysing how Inishowen changed during this time. I found the PhD journey at times a challenging and lonely one, and there were many occasions I thought I would not complete my research, however, the encouragement I received from my supervisors, Dr Billy Kelly and Dr Éamonn Ó Ciardha, kept me moving forward and I will be eternally grateful to have had such consistent support. I am proud that through all the obstacles that life presented to me through these years that I kept going and finished my PhD. My family were my motivation. Passing my final viva was a wonderful moment and one I was delighted to celebrate with my partner and five sons and extended family. To see their happiness for me is something I will never forget.

Profile pic Ian Smyth
Ian Smyth PhD in Business and Management

I'm just delighted to be sitting here as a PhD graduate - what a process and for anyone who completed their PhD part-time, an extra tip of the hat. I would never have gotten through this without the support and guidance from my supervisors - Martin, Judith and Alison, thank you! You are a crack team and I was fortunate to be supervised by you. Also massive thank you to my family! Your love and support meant the world and would not have been able to get through without your support and sacrifice, especially my wife Rebekah and kids, Isaac, Theo and Abigail. My proudest moment was my Viva - it was tough, fair but really enjoyable at the same time! If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be keep going and embrace the journey! Surround yourself with good people - you will need them along the way! Finally, congratulations to my fellow graduating colleagues - well done.

Profile pic Meadhbh Moriarty
Meadhbh Moriarty PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies

I received my B.Sc. (Hons) in Marine Science from the National University in Ireland, Galway, and my M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Conservation from Trinity College Dublin. Prior to undertaking a PhD, I worked as a researcher in the Marine Institute in Galway, Ireland and Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen, Scotland. My PhD research at Ulster University focused on the changes in species distribution for temperate marine fish in Europe. The primary aim of my project was to analyse historic and current trends in the population dynamics of temperate marine fish on the western European margin to understand and predict future distributions in a changing world.

My time as a PhD student at Coleraine was interesting and formative, I must thank Professor Paul Dunlop for his support. My proudest moment was when I received a Fulbright-Marine Institute research scholarship which allowed me to work with internationally excellent fisheries ecologists with strong international policy background in Alaska Pacific Universities FAST lab, run by Dr Brad Harris, this helped me to frame my work in a global context. I also spent time in Cornell University where I worked with exceptional quantitative ecologists, Dr Suresh Sethi, where I expanded my biostatistics knowledge. I couldn’t have got through this last few years without the amazing support of my family and friends, particularly my husband, Norm.

Profile pic Nowicki Bartosz
Nowicki Bartosz PhD in Art and Design

I am a storyteller, photographer and researcher. In 2010 I graduated from University of Wales, Newport (BA Hons Documentary Photography). From 2010 - 2015 I was a trustee and curator of Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, Wales.

My proudest moment was when I was told I passed my Viva. It took a lot of hard work to get to that point. It was a moment of great relief and pride of accomplishment. I am not entirely sure what my favourite memory was, but I will never forget how a good meeting with supervisors made me feel, especially when they were pleased with yet another submitted chapter!

I couldn't have got through this without my family. My wife Binta, my daughters Ewa and Kamila (who was born during the year two!!!), my mother and father, and my siblings. I would not be here without my supervisors Paul Seawright and Ken Grant whose constructive criticism helped me to succeed in producing strong research.

Profile pic Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell PhD in Education

Immediately prior to my PhD I managed a Young Carers Project where I worked for approximately seven years with young carers aged from five years old to twenty-four. I completed both my Undergraduate degree (Politics) and Masters (International Politics) at QUB. My research focused on the educational impact of being a young carer aged 16 – 24 in Northern Ireland. Very little is known about young carers in Northern Ireland generally and much less about their experiences of education. I am indebted to those who gave of their time to participate in this research and share their stories. I feel so privileged to have met so many inspirational young carers during both my career and this study. As I look back and reflect on my time completing my PhD at Ulster University in Coleraine, it is hard to believe that I once considered not accepting my place when it was originally offered. Thankfully a very wise friend told me to grab the opportunity with both hands and I have never regretted that decision.

My proudest moment of my PhD was submitting my final Thesis with my two children, Henry and Charlotte who both arrived during my PhD journey-just to make things more interesting! I am very grateful for having such a positive experience at Ulster University. I will be forever thankful to my supervisors’, Dr Una O’Connor Bones and Dr Jessica Bates, for their guidance and encouragement but most of all for their kindness, patience and understanding. I was also very fortunate to have great friends who gave me endless support and encouragement and my husband, another Dr Campbell, who knew only too well the highs and lows of completing a PhD.

Profile pic Ann Doherty
Ann Doherty PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

I started my PhD at Ulster University after completing my BSc Psychology degree at Magee campus. Returning to education to complete a PhD was a goal of mine ever since I completed my BSc Pharmacy degree in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2006. My PhD research examined patterns of healthcare utilisation by older adults using service evaluation and longitudinal epidemiological data. Looking back at my PhD I have many fond memories including having the opportunity to spend a week in Utrecht University developing my longitudinal data analysis skills, presenting my research at the FIP World Congress in Glasgow, collaborating with the Medicines Optimisation in Older People team in Northern Ireland, and contributing to Project ECHO NI. I am incredibly grateful to the many friends and colleagues in the School of Psychology and Doctoral College who made my PhD experience at Ulster a thoroughly enjoyable one. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to my wonderful supervisory team Prof Gary Adamson, Dr Ruth Miller, Dr John Mallett and Prof Mark Shevlin for their support, advice and guidance throughout my time at Ulster. I am honoured to have shared this experience with so many inspiring individuals and humbled to call many of them my friends. Ádh mór.

Profile pic Nermeen Ali
Nermeen Ali PhD in Biomedical Sciences

My PhD journey was a real big challenge for me. It was unforgettable moment for me when I knew the possibility of the full transfer of my PhD project to Ulster University. A special thank you to Prof John Callan, I am extremely grateful for the incredible support and supervision I received throughout my PhD journey. I would like to express my gratitude to my beloved family (my father ”Rizk”, my mother ”Amany”, my husband “Ahmed” 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.

My proudest moment was when I passed my Ph.D. viva, I couldn’t wait to let my dad and mom in Egypt know about theses great news, they were really proud of me and I always proud of them as well. My dad and mom gave me all the love and support to push me towards the success way since I started my study journey at the college of pharmacy at MUST University, Egypt in 2007. I’ll never forget the valuable memories that Ulster University has given me, the lovely people and the helpful colleagues.

Profile pic Natasha McClelland
Natasha McClelland PhD in Business and Management

I completed my BSc Consumer Studies at Ulster University and graduated with a first-class honours in 2017. It was here that I found my passion, desire and academic support to undertake my PhD. My time at Ulster University has been amazing and I couldn’t have got through this experience without my supervisors - The Dream Team. I am deeply grateful for their guidance, invaluable advice, support, encouragement and for ensuring that my supervisor meetings were never dull. Ulster University has provided me with so many learning and training experiences and the opportunity to attend regional, national and international conferences, in addition to many external networking events. I was always encouraged and supported to progress my personal and professional development. Along the way I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Paul Dion, who helped me to understand statistics and has always remained in contact checking in every so often. In exchange I taught him some very valuable Northern Irish terms, such as ‘eejit’ and ‘craic’.

We are often told the PhD journey can be a lonely one, however for myself and Nicola Allen (my PhD saviour) this was the opposite. In some ways we are very different but in others we are like two peas in a pod. We started and finished our PhDs together; even completing our Viva’s three days apart. Our endless laughing, shopping trips, dinners, cocktails, spa days and constantly supporting each other really did make the PhD journey much more fun and enjoyable. The words ‘we can do this’ became our office mantra. My proudest moment has been passing my Viva and obtaining my doctorate. Returning to education as an adult learning was not the easiest decision but with self determination, drive, perseverance and the fantastic support of my children and my supervisors it was possible. I will always have fond memories of my dad ringing me before, during and after every event and conference just to check in. To future PhD’s embrace the experience, avail of all the opportunities that Ulster offers and find that person to share the journey with!

Profile pic Ulrike Speers
Ulrike Speers PhD in Nursing and Health

In 2013 I graduated from Ulster University with a 1st class honours degree in Professional Development in Counselling. At the very start of my PhD journey, someone compared pursuing a PhD to running a marathon. I can wholeheartedly agree with this image as it needs determination and perseverance to finish. It was certainly invaluable to have supportive supervisors and I am grateful to Anne and Maggie for their unfaltering support. A PhD, especially in qualitative research, depends on participant contributions and I value the willingness of my participants to share their views on my research topic.

During my time as a PhD researcher, there were opportunities to take part in various conferences and these were good learning experiences and provided insight into research outside UU. I also felt that the doctoral college provided a good structure to the PhD training events and was a good place to meet researchers from other faculties. Taking part in the 3MT was a good opportunity to introduce my research to a wider audience in the early phase of my PhD. Thanks also to the library staff who were always willing to help, which I greatly appreciated. Finally, the support and encouragement of my family and friends helped me to persevere, thank you to all of you. To all present and future PhD students, I want to encourage you, do not give up, keep going and you will reach your goal.

Profile pic Nicola Allen
Nicola Allen PhD in Business and Management

I completed by BSc in International Travel and Tourism Management at Ulster which inspired me to go on and begin my PhD after 2 years in industry. My supervisors, Professor Stephen Boyd and Dr Peter Bolan have been fantastic throughout my PhD journey. My time at Ulster, in particular Coleraine campus, has been amazing through undergrad and PhD.

I am most proud to have finished my PhD and survived the rollercoaster ride of many ups and downs especially during the past year and a half. I could never have got through it all without my office bestfriend, Natasha McClelland. We both started and finished PhD together. We've been on holidays, shopping trips and spa days. We've laughed (a lot), ranted and cried. Our sweetie jar was the best addition to the office! My advice for future PhD researchers would be to get yourselves a PhD bestie and just keep telling each other "You can do this!".

Profile pic Stuart Griffiths
Stuart Griffiths PhD in Art and Design

Before taking on a PhD, I was a freelance photojournalist. Before that, I did a Degree in editorial photography at the University of Brighton, prior to that I was a British soldier. My research is based upon British soldiers' personal photographs and my research "question" was why is this area of "war photography" not acknowledged and without agency.

I am most proud of getting through and obtaining my Doctorate. Having left school with no qualifications has not been easy, so achieving this has been one of the most important things to happen in my life. My favorite memory at Ulster University was when my fellow PhD researcher and I got through out Confirmation Viva; afterwards, we celebrated and went to a wonderful Belfast pub nearby. We were all so relieved! I could not have got through the PhD without the wonderful support and guidance of my supervisors; also Spike the librarian really helped me when I was having doubts about my abilities. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD I would say, "Keep going, stay strong and enjoy the ride".

Profile pic Kelly Trearty
Kelly Trearty PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

I completed my first degree in Product Design at LYIT, in my home county of Donegal. After which, I completed my degree in Psychology and master’s in Applied Psychology at Ulster University.

While this PhD may have been challenging, it has been equally one of the most rewarding resilience building experiences of my professional and personal life. My proudest moments were i) getting accepted as a PhD candidate, ii) the following year publishing my first paper, and iii) then successfully defending my project in the viva. I am extremely proud to achieve this PhD and to have successfully completed my doctorate despite the unforeseen challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I could not have got through this without the support and expertise of both my supervisors Professor Brendan Bunting and Doctor John Mallett. I would also like to thank my family and friends for all their morale support and agricultural input over the years. I would like to wish every one of my fellow graduate’s good health and every success on the next chapter of their exciting journey. Congratulations to all the UU class of 2021!

Profile pic Maelle Fresne
Maelle Fresne PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies

From France, I had the great opportunity to come to Ireland to pursue my PhD in Catchment hydrology and hydrochemistry at Ulster University. Before moving to Ireland, I graduated with a Master in Hydrology and I taught soil and water sciences.

These 3 years have been filled with ups and downs but my PhD journey has been very rewarding personally and professionally. My proudest moments were the acceptance for publication of my first first-author paper, the acceptance of my first talk at an international conference, the submission (on time) of my thesis and my PhD viva. The days spent chasing rainfall storms and the lonely field work are also great memories! Discovering the beautiful island of Ireland was also memorable. I'll never forget the human, dedicated and motivational supervision and mentoring I received from my supervisors at Ulster University and Teagasc Johnstown Castle where I was based. I have been very lucky to work with them. They gave me many opportunities to present my work, attend trainings, extend my skills and grow as a researcher. I am also thankful to the University staff for the training I received, their kindness and effectiveness.

Above all, I am deeply grateful to my parents for teaching me hard work and perseverance which are more important than degrees or grades to succeed in a PhD, and my siblings, family and friends. I couldn't have got through this without their support and encouragements.

Profile pic John Deery
John Deery PhD in Music, Drama, Dance, Film and Screen Studies

I applied for the PhD after completing Undergraduate and Masters Degrees in Design at Ulster, specialising in filmmaking concerned with issues of mental health and suicide prevention. The final PhD film, JACK ( aims to translate the protective principles of the Papageno Effect from Psychology and Suicidology into Filmmaking practice by creating a more constructive depiction of a character struggling with their mental wellbeing and suicidal ideation.

I am most proud of successfully completing the PhD and defending the project in the final Viva. My fondest memories include presenting my work at the International Association of Suicide Prevention World Congress in 2019 and screening JACK at various Mental Health Film Festivals. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be to be prepared for some challenging days ahead and not to let them get you down. I could not have got through this process without the support and encouragement of my supervisor, Dr Victoria McCollum.

Profile pic Deirdre Timlin
Deirdre Timlin PhD in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

I completed my degree in Forensic Psychobiology at Abertay University Dundee. I then completed a MSc in Health Psychology at Ulster University and published my research on the benefits of Yoga on the psychological well-being of first time mums, supervised by Dr Liz Simpson. I started my PhD at Ulster University following the completion of my MSc in Health Psychology.

One of my proudest moments was having the opportunity to lead an international collaborative piece of research, spending time in Rome with Italian researchers, which led to a publication. I am very proud to have completed my PhD during a very challenging time through the Covid-19 pandemic and completing with 3 published papers. Doing a PhD is a transformational journey, and my supervisors played a crucial role in my success.

Profile pic Anastasios Karakasidis
Anastasios Karakasidis PhD in Engineering

I obtained my Diploma in Chemical Engineering from Patras University (Greece) in 2016 and afterwards, in 2017, I joined Ulster University for my PhD studies.

I’ll never forget when my first research article was accepted for publishing.

I would like to express my gratitude to my family and friends for their constant support and encouragement all over these years.

My proudest moment was when the examiners told me that I had successfully passed my viva.

Profile pic Chunlin Xu
Chunlin Xu PhD in Computing

I started my PhD at Ulster University in Oct. 2017 after I received my master degree from Jiangsu University, China. My research interests are deep learning, natural language processing.

I had a wonderful time during my stay at Ulster University, Jordanstown. Many thanks to all my supervisors, colleagues and research staff for their great help!

Profile pic Toni Spence
Toni Spence PhD in Biomedical Sciences

I studied BSc Biomedical Sciences with DPP at Ulster University and graduated with first class honours in 2017. I completed my placement year within the university research facilities in NICHE which inspired me to apply for a PhD. My PhD research was part of an internationally collaborative study, the Seychelles Child Development Study, and focused on associations between maternal diet, inflammation and oxidative stress in pregnancy. ​

​I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Ulster University and being part of the Seychelles team. My proudest moment was successfully completing the PhD Viva! A special thank you to Dr Emeir McSorley, I am extremely grateful for the incredible support and supervision I received throughout my PhD journey. My favourite memory was attending a team meeting and conference in Seychelles in 2019. A PhD can be challenging but I will never forget the great friends/PhD family who made the experience much more enjoyable. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best advice I would give myself would be to always stay positive and enjoy the process as time will go very quickly! ​

Profile pic Shurui Wang
Shurui Wang PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

This journey is quite a challenge for me. I am proud of me finally getting through my PhD. And I’ll never forget the valuable memories that Ulster University has given me, the people, the beautiful sceneries, the happiness, the language improvement, and the hard work. ​

​I would like to express my sincere thank you to my supervisors, my colleagues, my friends and my family. I couldn't have got through my PhD without your help and support. I know that you will continue to pay attention to my growth path in the future and be happy with my achievements. So, I’ll take all the knowledge I have learned and keep on working for a better future.​

Profile pic An Huynh
An Huynh PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My primary research interests focus on sustainable construction materials for the delivery of environmentally responsible building and infrastructure systems. Within that field, I am particularly interested in the combination of geopolymer binders and recycled aggregates as construction materials with a balance among technical, environmental and economic factors.

I would like to express my appreciation to my supervisors and the technicians/staffs at School of Built Environment, for their consistent support, valuable feedback, attention to details, patience and encouragement during my PhD course.

Profile pic Gareth Thompson
Gareth Thompson PhD in Nursing and Health

I initiated my PhD following the completion of my undergraduate degree in Health Physiology at Ulster University in 2017. The focus of my PhD research was exploring the molecular mechanisms that may mediate the cardioprotective effects of exercise in coronary artery disease patients. During my PhD, I had the pleasure of receiving supervision from Professor Ciara Hughes, Mrs Jacqui Crawford, and Professor Gareth Davison. The guidance that I received from my experienced PhD supervisors indisputably shaped my personal and professional development; I will be forever grateful for this support. The highlights of my PhD study involve obtaining ethical approval for a clinical research project; interacting with patients and healthcare professionals; presenting at conferences; publishing papers; and a favourable viva experience. My advice to future PhD students is to acknowledge and value the small steps that are taken towards completion with each task that is completed, irrespective of magnitude. A PhD should be conceptualised as a ‘marathon’ rather than a ‘sprint’, so develop an effective work-life balance and do not be reluctant to disconnect from work for the purpose of recovery. By doing so, immense satisfaction can be derived from overcoming the challenges posed by PhD study.