Katie Marriott
Chemistry PhD

Katie Marriott

Why did you decide to study for a PhD?

Following my MChem at the University of Leeds, I wanted to stay in chemistry but didn’t really want to go into industry side of chemistry as I preferred the research side. Obviously a PhD was the next natural step towards research.

Why Leeds?

I came to Leeds as an undergraduate because I really liked the place, I liked the city and I liked the department. The admissions tutor was really enthusiastic and nice.

What is the focus of your PhD?

I am looking at the chemistry behind the origins of life. So after the big bang there were all these chemicals flying around and we are trying to find out how they came together to make biology; so the chemistry before the biology happened. Specifically we are looking at phosphorous and how that got  into our DNA and our membranes and why it’s in our biology. 

How are you funded and how easy was it to get funding?

I am funded through ESPRC and for me it was really easy to get funding as my supervisor already had it. 

What would you say have been the greatest challenges?

Going from undergrad labs to research labs is very different, undergrad labs you are just given a recipe and you follow it. Whereas, when you get into the research lab you start to realise that not everything works because obviously the undergrad labs are designed to work so that you get 90% yields every time .  When you get into the research labs sometimes it is disheartening when you are only getting 16% yields from something you thought was going to work really well. So, it’s a really different experience. 

What advice would you give to somebody else thinking of doing a PhD?

Make sure you definitely want to do it and don’t do it thinking that it’s only three years because it is three years of your life and it’s very different to undergrad chemistry. So, of you aren’t sure about it then take a year out and think about it some more because you have to be sure that you want to do because you live your PhD, you don’t just come into work, do it and then go home again, you are thinking about it constantly and it’s long hours as well.

What would you say to other students who are thinking of doing a PhD at Leeds?

Come along. We’ve got a really nice department, there are a lot of things going on to get involved with. I am on the postgraduate society and so we organise coffee mornings and social things which people can come along to . And there’s also the Union and even as a postgrad you can get involved in societies. So there’ a lot to be involved with.