What is your research project about?
The title of my research project is “Synthesis and Stabilisation of Novel UV Absorbers”.
Polyethylene film is widely used as a greenhouse covering material in order to protect plants from adverse weather conditions as well as minimising temperature losses during the night and providing a degree of heat control during the day.
The focus of my research project is to identify a route to synthesise molecules that will preferentially absorb UV-A radiation whilst transmitting high levels of radiation in the UV-B region of the spectrum which is beneficial to plant growth.
What courses did you study previously?
I studied Pharmaceutical Engineering for my undergraduate degree at the China Pharmaceutical University. I then completed an MSc in Pharmaceutical Science and Medicinal Chemistry at Loughborough before beginning my PhD here. I really enjoyed my postgraduate taught course at Loughborough University. It was different from China and gave me more chances and spaces to think and solve problems by myself.
The project side of things was the most enjoyable part and the most useful. I worked in a lab and was able to conduct a project and experiment by myself for the first time. My supervisor gave me a lot of support and space to help me develop. And the staff in the lab were able to teach me and expand on my knowledge; such as how to do a column, how to use the equipment and how to do a good reaction. I really loved it and this was one of the reasons that I stay here to do my PhD.
Why did you choose to study at Loughborough?
When searching online, the University seemed like the best place to study, where students have a good working environment. Loughborough is a small town which suited me well; I prefer a quiet place to study where I can put my whole heart into it when I need to. As well, I was able to get a 25% discount to fund my postgraduate taught degree from the University.
What do you think of the teaching quality and facilities?
The staff are wonderful; I like every one of them. Every time I have problem, they are always on hand to help me as much as I need. They are nice and really easy to talk to.
Most of the facilities are good. For my research, the facilities in my department are perfect. And every year the department looks to improve them.
What do you enjoy about your PhD?
For me, some of the more exciting things involve going to different conferences to give a talk or a poster presentation to show our project and our University and department, which always make me proud.
As an international student, how have you found your experience here?
This is a wonderful place with wonderful staff. I very much enjoyed my masters and have found myself staying here to complete my PhD. I have learnt knowledge in the lab, gotten teaching experience for conducting demonstrations in the teaching lab and improved my English by communicating with my colleagues and staff.
We have a large university and after dinner I often go for a walk around the campus. I also love the swimming pool and go swimming every week. I really appreciate these facilities, especially the swimming pool as we did not have one in my undergraduate university.
How are you funding your degree?
The BPI (British Polythene Limited) company is sponsoring my PhD. This is very useful for without it I would not be able to stay here
What do you enjoy most about being a student here?
I find the Library very useful and that it helps a lot with my research. The staff there can help me to find useful information and the book I needed. The University also hosts many conferences which are good for my research. E.g. chemistry research day, science matters, research challenges in focus and health & wellbeing research conference.
Last year the EPSRC supported me to go to mass spectrometry summary school for three days. It was really useful and I gained a lot of new knowledge about mass spectrum which has been important in my studies.
What do you hope to do when you graduate?
I hope I can find a job in UK. My Loughborough degree shows my knowledge and skills in chemistry and can prove my English is adequate for a job. This degree is the most important part to find a job.
How has Loughborough inspired you?
One of the modules I took on my Masters really opened my eyes to the different ways of learning. The Professional Skills and Dissertation module involved working in groups to analyse and solve an industry problem; in this case, at what point did a certain river become polluted on its journey. The module taught me about the importance of process and analysis, my own thinking and working as a team. It was a very different style of teaching from China and I found it very interesting and helpful.
I was also inspired from my volunteer work, where I was given the opportunity to be involved in helping at a competition for schools called ‘Top of the Bench’, which is run by the Royal Society of Chemistry. With 30 teams from secondary schools involved, my role involved helping to set up, show competitors where to go and help them whenever they needed it. This was the first time I had volunteered for something like this and I really enjoyed it. It was inspiring to see how the competition worked, learning how to be patient with the students and understanding more about others and this country.