I joined the SOFI CDT in 2014 as I wanted to do a PhD in soft matter but was also very interested in the industrially integrated training in research, enterprise, and innovation that the scheme offered. I was extremely satisfied with the first six months of my PhD in Durham as I gained vast multidisciplinary knowledge in all areas of soft matter and worked closely with many companies on relevant case studies, which gave me a valuable insight into industry. Furthermore, I met some amazing people from across the globe, made many academic/industrial contacts, and generally felt like a valued member of the UK soft matter community.
After training in Durham, I relocated to Edinburgh to work on a specific PhD project investigating polymers at surfaces. The SOFI CDT offered excellent travel and consumable budgets, which meant I could comfortably fund my research and attend some amazing international conferences. Throughout my time in Edinburgh, SOFI consistently arranged further opportunities for personal development such as outreach events, business courses, and media training which were all very interesting and made me into a well-rounded researcher.
After SOFI, I have worked as a Research Associate for just over two years at Edinburgh and Newcastle University. I think SOFI prepared me extremely well for my research career as I was given extensive training in academic and industrial aspects of soft matter, as well as many personal development opportunities. Furthermore, my connections within the soft matter community really helped build research collaborations and I see many people involved in SOFI at every conference I attend which is great! In the future, I hope to secure a permanent lecturer position and I think SOFI has given me the tools to achieve this.
In short, I think the SOFI CDT is an excellent opportunity and provided me with so much more than a traditional PhD would have done, I really could not recommend it enough!