10 Things I've learnt during my PhD

10 Things I’ve learnt during my PhD

As I come to the end of my PhD I can look back with pride about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learnt from the 3.5 year postgraduate experience. Sure, I’ve learnt all about science, writing posters, data analysis and all of the other CV-worthy skills that a PhD helps you to learn which are the focus of my job applications. But looking back, I’ve learnt a lot of other things too. So here’s a list of the things that I have learnt about life, science and myself that won’t make it into my thesis or CV


1. A PhD is HARD. I know they tell you that at the start but this should really be emphasised more!

2. No amount of Chanel Eau de Parfum will cover up the smell of E. coli fermenting in a vat of yeast juice. Seriously, don’t get the bus home…


The smell from this thing is unreal!

3. Impostor Syndrome is a real thing and I’m smarter than I think. I (nearly) have a PhD to prove it. Take that internal haters and voices that tell me that I won’t make it…

4. You don’t just have to work in a lab to be a scientist. Cue interesting and varied life as a Medical Writer, learning about advances at the forefront of medical discovery, liasing with researchers at the top of their games, not to mention jet-setting around the globe to attend symposia. Farewell dirty labs and yeast juice… Expect more posts about the Medical Communications industry when I land myself that dream job 😉

5. The day you don’t wear waterproof mascara is the day you get strong NaOH in your eye, have to use the scary eye wash machine and look like Alice Cooper for the rest of the day. Of course it is.

6. I can’t survive without Earl Grey tea. I mean, I was always a tea addict, but any more cups of the stuff a day during thesis writing and I’ll need tea rehab…



7. It is possible to fill an 800 MHz NMR spectrometer with liquid nitrogen and helium wearing high heels. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; never doubt your heel-wearing superpowers.

8. I am capable of developing an emotional attachment to a spanner. I’d barely ever been to B&Q before the PhD and now I’m the toolkit Queen. Theft of my good spanner causes me to go all Liam Neeson; I will find you…

9. I really like Jazz music. Who knew? Probably a sign that this process has aged me in more ways than one.

10. There are so many AMAZING, inspiring and down-right stylish scientists out there! I couldn’t have made it this far in the process without being so inspired by my friends across the globe on social media who are doing groundbreaking science every day whilst being the awesome women that they are!

PhD students and veterans: anything else you would add to this list? What have you learnt on your PhD journey?