PhD Student Life and Testimonials

Experience what it's like to be a member of the Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences College community

BHFPhD video [mp4]

As well as being internationally renowned for research and teaching excellence we aim to provide a high quality, research-rich learning environment for those undertaking postgraduate degrees.  We also provide support for all students studying for postgraduate degrees in the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences.
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In the 2011 Postgraduate Research Experience survey -

  • The number of students stating that the research environment had met their expectations was 6% higher than other Scottish institutions and 5% ahead of the average for our fellow Russell Group universities.
  • 99% of students felt that the supervisory support and guidance availability was in place to help them complete their research degree. 

In the 2010 International Student Barometer survey the College was highly rated by our existing students. 

  • Over 97% were satisfied with the expertise of lecturers, over 5% higher on average than other institutions 
  • 95% were satisfied with our laboratories, over 8% higher than average

As well as learning, students were also satisfied with support and living.  Our student network, sport facilities and clubs & societies were highly ranked and Glasgow was a 'good place to be' according to almost 97% of students.

These pages illustrate the student life within the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences and include explanations from previous and existing students on why they decided to study at Glasgow, their thoughts on their individual courses and the benefits that studying within the College have brought them upon graduation.

Kevin WhiteKevin White

Completed PhD student, Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences
Supervisor: Prof Mandy MacLean

I studied for my PhD at the University of Glasgow from 2007 to 2010, investigating pulmonary arterial hypertension, and will be continuing in research as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School starting summer 2011. 

Throughout, the University provided me with many first class opportunities.  From the start, there was strong emphasis on networking with other PhD students and staff, and this was really helpful when initially settling in.  My supervisor was excellent and very supportive of my ideas from start to finish, and this gave me the confidence to really challenge myself.  I made many friends at Glasgow, which was useful whenever I needed a second opinion on my research, or otherwise.  The facilities are very well-resourced, and allowed me to learn a wide range of experimental techniques which will prove useful in future.  Both my supervisor and the University were also excellent in supporting me to present my research at local, national and international meetings which included London, San Diego, New Orleans and Colorado.  This was an invaluable part of my training, and also gave me the opportunity to network with my research peers. 

Glasgow is a friendly and vibrant city with lots of restaurants, bars and nightlife.  My time at the University has been really excellent.  For anyone looking for a really enjoyable PhD with great opportunity, I would recommend studying here.


Zara Gladman

3rd year PhD student, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Supervisor: Prof Colin Adams

When I started my undergraduate degree in zoology at the University of Glasgow back in 2003, I never thought I’d still be here eight years later!  I’m currently in my final year of a PhD, which focuses on the impact of non-native signal crayfish on Scottish biodiversity.  Signal crayfish are large, freshwater crustaceans that are native to North America but arrived in the UK in the 1970s.  Much of my work involves working outside, wading through rivers and lochs in my quest to learn more about these aggressive invaders.

Over the course of my PhD I’ve presented my findings at national and international conferences and I published my first paper last year.  I’ve also enjoyed communicating my science to young audiences via school visits, science festivals and Glasgow University’s Zoological Society.  As a demonstrator, I provide laboratory supervision to first year biology undergraduates, which I find both challenging and highly rewarding.

I’m a Glaswegian so my opinion may be somewhat biased – but this really is a fantastic city to study in!  The music scene is thriving, the pubs and clubs are plentiful and the city is brimming with (free) museums, festivals and cultural events.  Above all, the people are the best you’ll ever meet*.  When the time comes for me to leave Glasgow and the university which has fostered my love for science for so long, I’ll be very sad indeed.

*again, slight bias.


Asif QureshiAsif Qureshi

3rd year PhD student, Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology
Supervisor: Dr Joanna Wilson

It was September 2008 when I first arrived here in Glasgow and the time clock has ran so fast since then. Being an international student, it was a difficult task from the very beginning to get adjusted to a completely new environment. The friendly and co-operative environment at Glasgow, both at the University and socially, surprised me and this made it so easy to get on board with the routine life.

I have had a fantastic time in the College so far with an excellent academic and administrative supervision. During my studies, I got various chances to present my research at both national and international conferences. My supervisor has supported me all the way through my studies and the Graduate School has provided their best support in making my studies as smooth as possible. Training courses run by the Graduate school not only provided me an opportunity to build my personal skills but also will help me in establishing my career.  I am sure that after I finish my PhD, I am going to miss the student life at Glasgow a lot.


Christopher MillerChristopher Miller

1st year PhD student, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisor: Prof Colin Espie

I recently started working on my PhD at the University of Glasgow Sleep Centre (UGSC). The UGSC is an extremely interesting and stimulating environment to carry out my research. As we are based at the Southern General Hospital we are able to examine, monitor, and treat sleep related difficulties.

At UGSC I am able to access participants who have already been highly screened for psychophysiological insomnia through an on-going National Institutes of Health research study. I have also been fortunate enough to be involved in a extension grant of this trial from the Chief Scientist Office to help treat these previously identified insomnia sufferers. We do this through Sleep Restriction Therapy which is the topic of my PhD.  As of just now we are currently examining the response to this treatment through subjective and objective measurements of sleep and daytime functioning. This is done through a variety of techniques that we have access to at the UGSC including full overnight polysomnography recordings, wrist actigraphy measurements, hormone activity measurements, computerised reaction time tasks, and self-report questionnaire data. 

Furthermore, as my PhD is predominately funded through the Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep at the University of Sydney in Australia and due to a Cotutelle agreement with the University of Sydney, I will be spending at least one third of my PhD time with Professor Ron Grunstein at Sydney. Here I will have access to controlled laboratory facilities that allow the long term monitoring of sleep study participants.


Heather WoodsHeather Woods

3rd year PhD student, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisor: Prof Colin Espie

A PhD is something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. I graduated with a 2:1 in Psychology from Glasgow in July 2006 and started my MSc in September the same year. This led me into the PhD and gave me a valuable insight into life as a postgraduate student. Even as a MSc student, I presented my work at the annual conference of the American Association of Sleep Medicine in Minneapolis and have gone onto present at further international meetings in Baltimore, USA and Lisbon, Portugal. Glasgow hosted the European Sleep Research Society meeting in September 2008 which provided me with an excellent opportunity to present my research to an international audience on home turf.

As well as the travel and international networking opportunities that my PhD work has given me, I published my final undergraduate year research project in Behavior Research and Therapy and am now submitting papers to other top level journals, both specific to and outwith, the sleep research field. This reflects the high level of research being carried out in the School of Psychology at Glasgow by the MSc and PhD students. I am now building on the teaching experience I gained through my postgraduate career as a University Teacher working with academic staff as well as undergraduate students on sustaining the top level research experience we provide here.


Bo Yao

Completed PhD student, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisors: Dr Christoph Scheepers & Prof Pascal Belin

My research project “Silent reading of direct and indirect speech activates human voice-selective areas in the auditory cortex” combined state-of-the-art FMRI technique and eye-tracking to study how direct and indirect speech quotations are represented in our brain.  Since the methodology was novel and interdisciplinary I was concerned at how I would do this.  Fortunately, I was very well supported, my supervisors had expertise in psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience, respectively and offered me valuable advice.  To learn fMRI data analysis, I received funding to attend SPM training courses in Edinburgh and importantly, the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging houses the required research facilities such that the running of my experiments was smooth at the best.

I orally presented the findings of this project at the international conference AMLAP 2010, my first ever conference talk!  With the help of my supervisors, the paper of this study has now been accepted for publication in Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.  If you ask me how I felt, I would say, “Very chuffed”, with a big smile.  The research experience at Glasgow has been fantastic.


Katie GallacherKatie Gallacher

1st year PhD student, Institute of Health & Wellbeing
Supervisors: Prof Frances Mair & Prof Peter Langhorne

I am a GP and first year PhD student in the Academic Department of General Practice and Primary Care, undertaking a mixed methods PhD aimed at understanding the burdens of care imposed on people with stroke. I am currently undertaking a systematic review and will then be conducting analysis of health board data as well as interviews with people with stroke. I currently carry out 2 clinical sessions each week in a practice in the east end of Glasgow.

Having qualified as a GP in 2008, I successfully applied for the post of Academic Fellow in the Academic Department of General Practice and Primary Care in 2009. This year presented many great opportunities to gain experience in academia, for example first authorship on a paper accepted for publication in the Annals of Family Medicine. I was given the opportunity to present at four national conferences at which I gained two awards for best presentation and best poster. I was also awarded the Roberts Scientific Networking Award which allowed me to travel to and present at an international conference in Seattle (North American Primary Care Research Group). During this post I was successful in application to the Chief Scientist Office for a Clinical Academic Fellowship Award of 3 years to undertake my PhD.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year, working in an extremely supportive department with access to a wide range of educational resources. I have had the opportunity to attend numerous internal and external courses, and will be presenting at the Scottish School of Primary Care conference in 2011. So far my experience has been extremely positive and I look forward to completing my PhD.


Dr Elita Smiley

Completed PhD student, School of Medicine – Mental Health
Supervisor: Prof Sally-Ann Cooper

I was persuaded to undertake an MD in the epidemiology of the mental health of adults with intellectual disabilities by Professor Cooper. It turned out to be the best academic experience and achievement of my life.  Thanks to the support and wealth of opportunities provided by the University I managed to complete my Thesis on time, achieve a pass with very minor revisions and a recommendation to be considered for the Bellahouston Medal. My supervisor was on hand at all times to provide guidance and support and there were always opportunities within the department to meet with other researchers, present my work and attend international conferences.

To date, my research with the department has generated over 16 publications, all in key peer reviewed journals of psychiatry or intellectual disabilities. Successfully completing an MD whilst still working as a Consultant in the NHS was a real challenge that at times I didn’t think I was going to meet, but the flexibility, encouragement and support provided by the department ensured that I did. I am very grateful for the experience, research skills and considerable knowledge that I gained.


Claudia Geue

PhD student, School of Medicine – Public Health
Supervisors: Prof Andy Briggs & Dr Jim Lewsey

Since my undergraduate studies of Economics I have been interested in the Economics of Health and Health Care. After working as a researcher at the University of Aberdeen for a couple of years, I applied for a postgraduate position (PhD) in Health Economics at the then Medical Faculty of the University of Glasgow. Since the start of my studies I have enjoyed the vibrant research environment within the Health Economics & Health Technology Assessment Team and the support and encouragement of my supervisors has been and is invaluable. I thoroughly enjoy discussing and sharing ideas with fellow research students and colleagues. This, and the numerous opportunities to present my work at national and international conferences has broadened my horizon.

To encourage personal development, the College’s Graduate School offers a number of Research & Development courses. I found these courses very beneficial and they have contributed to the development of my generic research skills and techniques. In addition, the funding that was made available to support my research has also allowed me to attended externally offered courses at other Universities. These have especially equipped me with the quantitative research skills needed for my PhD. Overall, my experience as a PhD student at the University of Glasgow has been a very positive one and will adequately prepare me for a career in research.


Cathy Johnman

3rd year PhD student, School of Medicine – Public Health
Supervisor - Professor Jill Pell

So far my PhD has been challenging, stimulating, rewarding and incredibly positive. My studies have provided an opportunity to develop my ability to critically appraise, think creatively and begin the process of independently shaping the direction of my research.  The quality of supervision from my academic and clinical supervisors has been of an exceptionally high standard. Their different approaches and wide range of knowledge and experience have supported me in developing and shaping my own research.

The generic and transferable skill training (Research Training Programme provided by the Graduate School) has enabled me to develop my skills in a wide range of areas including: project management; research ethics; literature searching, critical appraisal, presentation and writing skills. The Graduate School has always been approachable and helpful in facilitating my studies and I have been provided with excellent resources (computer facilities, library resources etc) and support at a Unit level.

Since studying for my PhD at the University of Glasgow I have presented my research at both national and international conferences (including the European Society of Cardiology Congress) and have been the lead author on two peer reviewed papers in international journals (including Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions).  I feel privileged to be part of such a prestigious institution and medical school with its high standards and international reputation and look forward to completing my PhD (maybe not so much to the viva!).