Researcher Spotlight : Eleni Christoforou

Published: 23 January 2019

Ellen Hughes catches up with second year PhD student Eleni Christoforou about how her research is progressing

Eleni Christoforou with dogThis week Ellen Hughes catches up with second year PhD student Eleni Christoforou about how her research is progressing.  

Can you briefly sum up your research topic?
I am studying the potential effect of microfibers and light pollution on the ecosystem services provided my marine mussels.

How has your research progressed since we last heard from you?
At the end of 2018 I performed a 2-month long experiment testing the potential effect of microfibers. I am still in the process of analysing the results thus I can only say that the outcome is promising but I do not have any solid answers as of now. I will keep you posted!

Are you where you thought you would be a year ago?
I cannot hide that the experiment had some pitfalls thus I am not exactly where my plan wanted me to be, but I am now understanding that biological research and experimental work never goes exactly as planned! I am still on track for my PhD though. 

What part of your research so far have you enjoyed the most/felt most proud of?
I enjoy the experimental/practical work the most, but the proudest moment is when the graph with the results come out and there is a visible pattern.

Have you come up against any unforeseen challenges
Various small ones that I am trying to solve/work around them.

What are the most important lessons you have learnt from your first year?

1)      When pursuing a PhD, you learn way more than just your research topic and your research. These include management of staff, money and time, organisation, maintenance, spontaneous thinking and thus problem solving and of course taking the matters in your hands.

2)      As I said earlier, in experimental work, the plan is just a utopia, but nothing goes as planned.  The goal is to get as close to that as possible.

If you could tell your first-year-self-1 thing, what would it be?
This is something they have told me when I started but I didn’t quit understand it then: “A PhD is a roller-coaster”; one day you believe you are in perfect shape and the next you feel that you know nothing. Luckily the high moments are more than the low ones!

First published: 23 January 2019