EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Molecular-Scale Engineering
a Centre for Nanotechnology
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Ashley Stammers

Ashley Stammers

I’ve always enjoyed the sciences, but I truly appreciated it at GCSE, which is why I chose Physics and Chemistry as well as Mathematics at A-level. I studied Physics with Nanotechnology (BSc) at the University of Hull, but I still have an appreciation of Chemistry, and sometimes miss doing it.

Previous lab experience
The only lab experience I have is working in undergraduate labs, but the transfer to postgraduate and research labs hasn’t been difficult at all and has been far more exciting and interesting than previous work.

Why I chose to study in the CDT in Molecular-Scale Engineering
The thought of working at the nanoscale, and at the edge of new technologies is what really drove me. The opportunity to in other departments was also a great motivator, as it meant I could expand my knowledge into areas I didn’t know about.

Current research
Currently I am working on what affects the pick-up rates of AFM force spectroscopy, and trying to find ways that will hopefully increase this and to give a better understanding of what affects it.

I also worked on modeling the role of Actin in vesicle formation, and structures that from a dsDNA strand with a ssDNA loop.

Advantages of an integrated PhD over a conventional PhD
With a conventional PhD, you are given one project to do with the possibility making a few tweaks to the PhD. With the integrated PhD however, the rotations give a feel of what to expect when it comes to doing your PhD. It also gives the opportunity to work in different departments, taking you out of your comfort zone, which can be good.

With the course being interdisciplinary, I get to learn about areas that I haven’t studied before. Learning about biological systems is fascinating, I know have an understanding of new things, rather than just knowing that they are.

Working with a variety of new people in a sort time, showed me how easy it is to adjust, especially with those who have completely different backgrounds to me.

The most enjoyable aspects
The first semester consisted of training, and learning new techniques. It was the first time I had been in a clean room, and the experience was pretty exciting. Also being able to look around the labs gave a feel of what departments are really like, and knowing that you’d get to work in them.

The most challenging aspects
Sometimes it feels like you have no time for yourself to just relax and to not worry about any assignments. When you do get that day off, you learn to appreciate it and make the most of it, before you realize you’re back in for another full day.

What would you say to other students interested in joining the CDT?
Customizable PhD; gives you the opportunities to do what you want to do.

Activities I participate in outside of the CDT
• Vice-Captain of Leeds University Trampolining 2014/15 https://www.leedsuniversityunion.org.uk/groups/trampoline/