Dr Zofia Komsta
PhD in Organic Synthesis

Zofia Komsta

Where are you from and what are you studying?

I am from Poland. I have just finished my PhD in Organic Chemistry with Prof. Kocienski. I did my undergraduate degree in Poland and I decided to do my PhD in Leeds as it sounded really very good.

And have you enjoyed it?

I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I made a lot of friends here and the University is just as I expected and so everybody is very helpful. Which is good because as a foreigner you can feel scared but after just a couple of hours here you realise that you can get help from everyone.

What would you say that you enjoyed the most during the four years?

Oh, do I have to pick one thing? There are so many to choose from. During a PhD you have ups and downs and of course you always have those days when you think ‘oh no I wish I hadn’t done that’ but then a couple of hours later you get a success and then you think ‘oh forget about two hours ago’! So, I definitely enjoyed my research first of all. I definitely made a lot of friends here though and actually Leeds is a nice, very friendly city for students as well. So, it’s easy to visit places as well and it’s lovely here in Yorkshire. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

And what was your research project about?

It was 1,3 metallet rearrangement of carbohydrate derivatives, so I worked with sugars and I was following previous research which  Prof. Kocienski had previously started. It was a very interesting project, potentially leading to some natural compound and potential drugs as well. So it was very diverse and interesting. Within one PhD I had three or four different chapters where I was talking about different aspects and so I have learned a lot.

Would you recommend doing a PhD?

There are days when it’s tough and you have to work hard. But at the end, especially on a day like today when you are graduating, you know that it was worth it. It was just four years. I did my research for three years and I worked for the last year and then was writing up my thesis as I was actually working and I remember at the beginning that people were shocked that I would work for eight or nine hours a day and then work on my PhD but actually you can do it. So, you can either choose to stay and write up full-time for a few months or go and get a job and write at weekends. So, it is absolutely do-able and worth the pleasure at the end. Then on graduation day, like today you are really proud of yourself.

What’s next?

Well, I already have a job. I am working as a senior researcher in a carbohydrates company called Dextra, in industry. I really love my job, it is connected to the research I have been doing during my PhD and so that is really useful. The company is expanding and there are a lot of opportunities and I really love what I do.