Michelle Tenwick studied for a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Leeds

Michelle Tenwick

What are you researching?

I am in my third year and I am studying numerical solutions for integral equations, so applied maths.

What made you choose Leeds?

I was an undergraduate here, so it wasn’t a hard choice.

My supervisor had a project and I wanted to work under him and so that was my main reason for wanting to do a PhD.

As an undergraduate student, applied mathematics was the area which really inspired me and I was really interested in it.

It was a combination of wanting to learn more about that area and also not really knowing what kind of career to follow. It seemed like an easy option to keep doing what I enjoyed doing. Now it doesn’t feel like such an easy option though!

So, what interests you about your subject?

It’s applicability which really interests me. You can actually see the problem which needs solving and so when you find that you have done something new and you can actually see the result, I think that’s the most interesting thing. 

What have been your biggest challenges whilst doing your PhD?

Keeping motivated. Those times when you are stuck on a topic and you can’t see the light, they are terrible and it’s really hard.

Obviously you have experience of being an undergraduate and a postgraduate student, so how would you describe the student life here?

Well as a postgraduate student I don’t go out every night, but the student life is still great - really brilliant. I love Leeds. 

When you look back what do you think that your favourite memories will be?

As an undergraduate it was definitely graduating but as a postgraduate I think that it will be getting my first paper published.

That was such a relief, it was brilliant. It was such a lot of work, it really was.

What do you make of the academic facilities you have here and the support?

I think that it’s great that if you need to see anyone in the School of Mathematics then they are very approachable and very supportive.

All the facilities have all the software which you need and if it should happen that it’s not there then it’s just one email and then you have it. Which is brilliant actually.

Have you got any advice for someone thinking of doing a PhD?

I would definitely say that it’s not easy. Some people might think that it’s just a case of carrying on but it’s not like that really.

It’s not just an easy extension of undergraduate. It is a lot harder and you should really think about it.

It requires three or four years of work and that is a long time.

So my advice would be to really think about it before you decide. Don’t just go for it because it’s there. But apart from that, I would say do it if you want to. It’s brilliant. 

What would you say to another student thinking of coming to Leeds to study for a PhD?

It’s a really good choice with the great facilities and the University itself. The city has a great atmosphere. It’s got everything really - it’s a good package.