Profile - Zoe Smallwood, PhD Chemistry

Zoe chose to pursue a PhD in chemistry to have the freedom to explore the topics within her field which she's passionate about.

PhD Student Zoe Smallwood

Why Sheffield?

I had completed my undergraduate degree here, so I already knew and liked the city and the department. However, the living costs and the particular opportunity that Sheffield offered (involving a mixture of teaching and research) was what cemented my decision to stay. I wanted to pick somewhere to study that would feel like a second home and Sheffield did.

What does your postgraduate study give/offer you that your undergraduate didn’t?

I get to spend extended periods of time researching in my field, with a large amount of freedom on what I investigate (within my project!) at any particular time. For example, instead of being given a set topic to investigate, as a PhD student I can speak to my supervisor about an idea that interests me, and propose my own investigative routes. I have a lot more freedom in my PhD studies than when studying for my undergraduate degree; this is part of your development into a more independent researcher.

What do you particularly enjoy about postgraduate study in your department/subject area?

The department is really friendly - this is great from a research perspective as well as a social one! I have lots of connections with other researchers within the department, which makes discussion and collaboration very easy between people and groups that have different areas of expertise. The technical support from specialist services and technical staff is also excellent. I really love doing research, often doing something brand new, and I like that every day is different!

PhD Students in Weston Park

I really love doing research, often doing something brand new, and I like that every day is different!

Zoe Smallwood
PhD Chemistry

What course specific opportunities have you taken advantage of, if any? (Field trips, research placements, internships, conferences, funding)

I have presented my work at several conferences, both local and national. As part of my studentship, I got the opportunity to travel to China to teach students on a joint undergraduate degree between Sheffield and Nanjing Tech University. I demonstrate to undergraduates as part of my studentship (although you do not have to be a graduate teaching assistant to demonstrate) which I recommend.

How are you funding your study and living costs?

I am funded by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) studentship, which is delivered by the University. In return for ca. 2 days of demonstrating in undergraduate labs each academic year, I am funded for a total of 4 years. My funding gives me research funds (for chemicals, equipment etc) and a stipend (for my living costs).

Where are you living? (If university accommodation, please state which site, if privately rented just note the area)

In a privately rented property, near Endcliffe Student Village.

What has your renting experience been like?

Very good- my current landlord is great and the cost of accommodation in Sheffield has been very reasonable. I have seen many properties which are rented to groups of postgraduate students and/or professionals, either as individual rooms or as whole properties, so you don’t need to have a pre-decided group of housemates to find a place to live.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of studying postgraduate at Sheffield?

Come and visit the department you are thinking of studying with. This gives you the chance to meet potential supervisors and see what the department has to offer.