Akhila K Jayaram, BSc Nanotechnology student at the University of Leeds

Akhila K Jayaram

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

I had always wanted to pursue a nanotechnology-based degree but was unsure of which route to undertake due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field. While deciding where to apply, I saw that Leeds was the only one offering a standalone nanotechnology course while other universities offered it as a minor with Physics or Chemistry. I had also consulted with a few academics in India who recommended Leeds for its excellence in teaching and research, and a glance at the world university rankings placed Leeds as one of the best universities in the UK. Therefore, it was only natural for me to have accepted to study here when I was made an offer!

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University and why?

I believe the best aspect was the interdisciplinary nature of the course, which exposed me to various concepts across science and engineering. While some might state that broad-based courses don't offer you the same depth as a single degree in Physics or Chemistry, I would say that it provides you with sufficient fundamental understanding to undertake in-depth study independently. I enjoyed this aspect because it has enabled me to approach every problem using a multitude of approaches, which would prove beneficial in any setting be it research or industry. 

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far?

I think the project I enjoyed the most was the Materials Synthesis and Characterisation group project, where we had to look at develop an economically feasible processing route for iron oxide in ferrofluidic seals and suggest a characterisation protocol. The reason I enjoyed the project was because it translated some of the theoretical concepts taught to us in modules into practical applications. Another project I am currently working on is the study of nanoparticle flow behaviour in a microfluidic sensor cell as part of my final year research project. It is challenging because my project spans across the fields of chemistry and fluid mechanics, but very satisfying to work on as I view it to be a culmination of what I have learnt so far. 

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Leeds is a great student city and I have found the cost to be very reasonable so far. There are always things to do outside the university, be it shopping, movies or great restaurants. I also find it great that the city is so clustered around the city centre that you can easily walk to get to your destination. Leeds has great transport links, so it is easy to travel around the UK.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambitions for the future is to engage in nanotechnology research and hopefully build a career in academia. My aim is to develop new treatment or detection mechanisms for currently designated life-threatening diseases in terms of research but I would also like to contribute to inspiring young minds through teaching university students.

What Experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

Leeds has provided me with a whole range of academic and non-academic experiences, which will greatly help me in my future career. In terms of building my technical and research competence, I would say that the opportunities to gain work experience in the UK through an industrial placement year at GlaxoSmithKline and summer research experience through a university partnership at the University of Alberta in Canada have greatly helped. As an international student, I don't think I would have received as many opportunities in my home country as few universities in India encourage taking a complete year off to gain industrial experience. Leeds has also helped me build great interpersonal skills such as communication and leadership; I have held committee positions in various societies and also am currently the School Representative for Chemical and Process Engineering. 

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Although my course in its current form has been discontinued and is currently undergoing a re-design, I can provide general advice to anyone who is seeking admission to Chemical and Process Engineering. I would say work hard in your A-level (or equivalent) examinations and come with a positive attitude to Leeds. There is so much you could gain from your experience here, but only if you take the initiative!