Oksana Leszczyszyn - PhD in Chemistry at the University of Warwick.
What is your academic/work background?
BSc (Hons) in Chemistry with Forensic Science
What initially attracted you to your course?
The project was really interesting and Warwick is a very good university with many opportunities.
Is your course full/part-time?
Did you move a long way from home to do your course?
No I didn’t for this course, but in the academic field it pays to be flexible and in future I would like to work abroad.
How many contact hours with your tutors do you have per week?
I have one regular one-hour meeting with my supervisor every week. If I need to discuss matters outside this time my supervisor will always make time to see me.
What other commitments do you have, how do you fit your studies in?
For the second year running I am part of the Chemistry Careers Committee, who organise a chemistry-based one-day careers event for the entire department, amongst other things. I go to these meetings about 1-2 times a month and spend some time organising and carrying out assigned tasks. I also occasionally demonstrate in lab sessions, but try not to do too much, as my research usually takes priority.
Can you walk me through your day to day activities?
Generally, I like to get into the university quite early, so that I can plan and go through my tasks for the day, and also sort out any small jobs that need doing. If I am doing lab work, I usually start at 9am. Lab work can last from a couple of hours to all day, depending on what I am doing. Some of my research is computer based, so I spend some of my day on the computer. Reading is an important part of my day, so I try to read at least one paper, but sometimes things can get a little hectic and this goes out of the window. We regularly have group and departmental seminars, which take up about 1-2 hours per week. I usually go home about 6-7pm.
What are the key issues facing people on your course?
At the moment I am in my final year, so finding a post-doc or future work/funding is high on my list of priorities. Getting original research published is also an important aspect.
What impact has technology had on your work?
I believe that technology has had a great impact on my work. My research in particular is multidisciplinary and requires the use of many hi-tec instruments, without which I could not carry out my project. I also use a computer to process and analyse all the data collected by these instruments. On-line databases make searching for literature much easier
What are the best things and worst things about your course?
Research is very exciting and I often get to learn new techniques. My project provides me with a constant challenge (which is a good thing) and it encourages me to think in new directions…but the nature of research is that experiments may not work first time and you have to be prepared to do them again.
What do you hope to do when your course finishes?
I hope to pursue an academic career, so I guess a post-doc is the next step.
What attributes do you need to do your course?
Commitment, self-motivation and a good sense of humour, as more often than not, things don’t go the way you expect.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out?
Sometimes you can’t see the wood from the trees. If this happens, take a break.