Doing a photonics PhD from home during lockdown
Wanvisa Talataisong, final-year PhD student researching the fabrication of microstructured polymer optical fibres, talks to us about her experience of doing her PhD studies from home during lockdown.
How has the university closure affected your PhD studies so far?
I'm quite lucky because as a final-year student, I already have enough results to write up my thesis, so the closure doesn't affect me too much. Also, the University has extended all the PhD deadlines by three months, which is helpful. One problem is that before the labs closed I went in to get some samples, but I have since realised that there are some that I have forgotten, so I might need to skip some things that I wanted to add to my thesis.
How do you think it is affecting others in a similar position to you?
Some students' research is based on computational work and simulation, so they can continue to do that at home. But for students who really need to work in the lab to get their results it's quite a tough time. They can do some writing up and they can try to analyse some of the work they have done so far.
It's also tough for very early-stage PhD students. If you are in the second or third year, you will have some results you can analyse and write up during this period. But students who have only just started can't really do anything, so that's a big challenge. The only thing they can do is read as many papers as possible.
What support have you received from your research group and your supervisor?
We still have our weekly group meetings via video conferencing, and we have discussions via email too, so I feel I have all the support I need from my supervisory team.
What challenges have you had and how have you overcome them?
One challenge is how to keep yourself working in the home environment. Being at home makes me too relaxed! I try to stick to the same routine as before, so from Monday to Friday I get up early, have a quick breakfast and then start working, just as I would if I was still going into the University.