EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Molecular-Scale Engineering
a Centre for Nanotechnology
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Alban Smith


I received a Biology BSc (Hons) from the University of Bath in July 2011. After this, I spent a year working non-academic jobs, during which I decided to undertake a PhD. My final year dissertation was investigating a new scientific protocol to identify industrially-relevant yeast species, by specific primers for polymerase chain reaction.

Why I chose to study in the CDT in Molecular-Scale Engineering
I thought the structured learning component of the CDT programme (which you can view on the website) would help me progress steadily, and makes the prospect of starting a PhD less daunting. I liked the notion that people should have a broad education. Being able to look at a biological problem from chemical or physical perspectives (or vice versa) is a novel and interesting ability, and this is highly relevant to the CDT. The main benefits of an interdisciplinary course is being able to talk to people in various departments. My experience on the course so far has taught me that people are always keen to help, especially if it is something that interests them.

Current research
The aim of the rotations, of which we are given three (6–8 weeks each), is to expose you to new techniques, and to give you taste of a field in which you may want to pursue a PhD in. My first rotation involves using photolithography to make devices that generate surface acoustic waves. The aim is to trap living cells (or other micro-particles) in these waves, for characterization and manipulation.

Most enjoyable aspects
You spend a lot of time with your cohort early on (residential week, and the initial six weeks of lectures), so you become good friends very quickly. The most challenging aspect so far has probably been writing a lab report, four weeks in, on how I synthesized a resonant tunneling diode!

What would you say to others students interested in joining the CDT?
There is something for everyone.