Hollie Lloyd, Mathematics with Integrated Master's, 2015 - 2019

PhD Student in Applied Mathematics - University of Manchester

As a local student I had the opportunity to visit Keele a few times throughout high school, giving me my first experience of the beautiful campus and its buildings, this encouraged me to consider applying to Keele. After speaking to the lecturers and students at an open day and hearing their positive attitudes towards the degree I knew that Keele was the perfect environment for me.

The best part of the program is definitely the relationship between the lecturers and students at Keele, and particularly in maths. With an open door policy, the lecturers make the effort to know you by name and are almost always available to help when you are struggling. On the few instances when this is not the case, the communal work spaces available to mathematics students allows for friendships to develop between students in different year groups, as well as your own, so there is always someone to turn to and you never feel isolated.

One of the best things about the Mathematics course at Keele is the wide range of modules on offer, which allow you to tailor your degree to give you the appropriate skills for whatever you wish to do after your degree. I knew I most likely wanted to stay in academia after my undergraduate degree, and my project module in my Masters year allowed me to experience what research really is, and experience writing academic material as well as giving presentations. My supervisor, Dr Dan Lucas, was invaluable throughout this whole experience, not only going above and beyond to support me with my project but also advising me with how to apply for Postgraduate studies and answering my endless questions! I couldn’t be more grateful.

Doing a Mathematics degree provides you with many transferrable skills such as learning to organise an argument in a structured way and explain your ideas in an accessible way. My degree also improved my public speaking ability which has really fuelled my confidence going into Postgraduate research. The ability to think logically and solve problems is not something to be underestimated, as well as being an attractive skill to many employers after completing your degree, not just for staying in academia.

My advice would be to never be afraid to ask for help. The beauty of problem solving is that everybody sees a problem in a different way, and sometimes it takes hearing that perspective from someone else to get you through a part you’re stuck on. With your peers, older students and lecturers together you’ll be able to find an answer to anything. Also keep an open mind, you’ll be surprised at what mathematics can do and where that leads!

I am currently in my first year of study for a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Manchester. My research investigates how particles of different sizes in a granular material segregate (separate by size) in a flow and trying to find a continuum model which explains this behaviour. I use a mixture of small scale experiments, using sand grains of different sizes and high resolution cameras to view their behaviour, and numerical simulations to try and recreate this behaviour. My PhD is partnered with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca; since different components of a tablet separating in a mixture is a large problem which they wish to combat.

I am unsure what I would like to do after my PhD, but my research allows me to experience both the academic side of research, i.e. teaching undergraduates, giving presentations, publishing papers etc., as well as seeing the industrial applications of research through AstraZeneca. Hopefully this will allow me to make an informed decision when the time comes!