EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Molecular-Scale Engineering
a Centre for Nanotechnology
You are here: Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular-Scale Engineering > Our Students > Adam Churchman

Adam Churchman


Throughout my education I have always been someone who has seen interest in multiple areas. These have of course included the different areas of science, which some would say are more relevant to my current line of study, but have also been from completely different areas, such as art, theatre and sport, all of which impact my current work much more than I would have ever expected. The reason for this is perhaps due to my competitive nature to always better myself at anything I do and learn as much as I can, from both word and experience. This has resulted in me having an interdisciplinary nature, but has more importantly led each area of myself to be aided by the others, for instance being able to talk confidently during science lectures and presentations, due primarily to my history in performance.
While I love my interdisciplinary nature, my main area of interest in science is nanotechnology for medical uses, using a physical viewpoint to look as biological and chemical processes.

Specific Education prior to CDT:
A levels – Physics, Maths, Further Maths (As), Fine Art, Theatre Studies (As)
Kingston University – Diploma Foundation Art (speciality: graphic design)
University of LeedsBSc Nanotechnology

Previous lab experience
My main periods of lab experience were practicals during my BSc, an 8 week Nuffield project between my 2nd and 3rd year BSc, where I looked at the nanotoxicological effects of ZnO nanoparticles, in the presence of blood serum, to a particular cell model, and my final year project which took the same project on a different route. The advanced devices, labs and techniques that I have had extended experience with are: Scanning probe (AFM and STM), electron (TEM and SEM) and optical microscopes (Single and Multiphoton Confocal), Clean room (with all of its techniques necessary to form quantum structures), EDX, XRD, microfluidics and c++ computing.

Why I chose to study in the CDT in Molecular-Scale Engineering
There were two main things that attracted me to the CDT: Firstly, its interdisciplinary nature; I believe whole heartedly that all science is and will keep becoming more interdisciplinary in the future, and that this is a brilliant thing, due simply to the fact that the more research that is done on something the better it can be understood, allowing more development from that area of interest and more use to be gained from it, with less unexpected effects due to wholes in knowledge.

Secondly, I was attracted to the three PhD project ‘taste testings’. I tried looking at PhDs the typical way, but found it impossible to decide on any without really knowing what the PhD entailed. Being told the outline of a PhD and where you may or may not be going during that time is great, but that is far from even the general experience that will be had throughout approximately 3 and a half years of a PhD. With each roughly 7 week project of the CDT, you meet who you may be working with, what the general details of your work will be and more importantly if you enjoy the work, which at the end of the day is the major factor of the experience gathered over the period of a PhD, which is not short.

Current research
For my first rotation I have been studying micro-bubbles for therapeutic uses. I am attempting to extend the bubble’s life time. My areas of work are in both the MNP group (Physics and Astronomy) and Electrical Engineering, both at Leeds.

Advantages of an integrated PhD over a conventional PhD
I hoped that the CDT would give me a better structured and broader contact based PhD than a conventional PhD, where I ended up doing work in an area that was better informed on and chose over others with more confidence of it being the best choice for me. As of yet the CDT has given me all of these things.

Science is becoming even more interdisciplinary than it already is, so the more interdisciplinary your studies the better equipped you will be when you finally finish them. But before I finish my studies it is giving me a far better overview of my work (at least within my first rotation), allowing me to be more hands on with the overarch of the project I am contributing towards, rather than studying just one singular part of it, not knowing the real outcome of my work or where it originated from.

The most enjoyable aspects
During my time on the CDT so far I have most enjoyed my first rotation as I have no felt the pressure of decision or a specific need to collect data and have a ‘good’ outcome, instead I have been able to relax and actually experience research. However it has to be said that in terms of ‘enjoyment’ the residential week was very, very good.

The most challenging aspects
Coming from an interdisciplinary BSc course (nanotechnology), the change to the CDT was not all that much trouble for me. However I know that when I started my BSc it was not the advancement of work from A level to University that was my major challenge, but rather how it came from all areas of science, which made work a lot more challenging as information often did not help back up other information and I had to make the connections for myself. Therefore I can only think that the interdisciplinary nature is likely the greatest challenge of the CDT course for someone with a pure (single) science background.

What would you say to other students interested in joining the CDT?
Do you want to know what you will be signing up to for the next three to four years with a PhD? Actually experience the possibilities hands on and then choose with confidence. Join the CDT.

Activities I participate in outside of the CDT
• Art (mainly graphic design, but leisurely abstract painting)
• Swimming

Professional networks:
Twitter (used solely for business and as a contact base)