Introducing our new PhD blogger, Merve!
Hello from mid-Semester
At the beautiful Alexandra Park
We are in the midst of a semester and also almost at the end of my favourite season when in Manchester. The season is autumn, which for me indicates new beginnings, some ends, and lovely colourful views on nature…
It has been the fourth autumn during my time here, which has been full of new ventures and lots of decisions that have impacted my journey. My journey here started during an autumn as a research assistant which lead to pursuing a PhD afterwards, and overall has been enlightening, not only professionally but also personally, for me.
My name is Merve (both e’s pronounced as é with a strong r in between) and I’m a Computer Engineer who is interested in Neuroscience. I am studying a PhD to understand more about animal nervous systems (so far, my research covered analysis of neural paths belonging to human being, frogs, worms and insects: you’ll be amazed to know how similar they all are!), and to apply this knowledge onto Artificial Neural Networks(ANNs) via computational resources.
I’ve been working with Prof. Luján and Prof. Furber as my PhD supervisors in the APT(Advanced Processor Technologies) research group over making ANNs more efficient under the light of my research findings. Efficient here indicates more biologically plausible, ideologically having more roots to nature; and in computational terms, being more memory friendly, so occupying less place and not power-hungry.
What a new semester brings
A view from Bridgford Street
As a department, we started a new semester roughly two months ago with a whole influx of new students joining the University. If you are a new student that’s just starting here, you’ll be studying and encountering a whole host of new computer science modules and topics. Moreover, if you are a PhD student, add settling in with your research group and supervisory team to that as well, and afterwards, it would be all about you and your research project.
Becoming a GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant) is voluntary, yet it is a paid position here. Each semester you apply for your desired courses matching your abilities considering the new syllabus, and after taking the required training to work as a TA, either a first-year or a last, you are ready to set to work! I personally enjoy being a TA, especially when I see a willingness to learn in the eyes of new undergraduate students.
I see a new semester as an opportunity to set up fresh goals as well. Getting feedback on our annual research results after each end-of-year examination, which usually takes place during August, is a reason for that too.
So, while still having plenty of time until the end of the semester, also the calendar year, and while all goals are waiting to be accomplished, I hope all izz well for all of you!
“You are enough”, a great motto near our Kilburn Building.
When you’re doing a PhD, it is so easy to forget what’s happening in the outer world whilst in the flow of conducting research. Seasons pass and time flies! However, before this season ends, as a person who cares deeply about wellbeing, and as a PGR(Post-Graduate) Mentor in the department, I’d like to highlight a few things about wellbeing during studying a PhD, which in my opinion is the most crucial.
Stepping into hygge*
When I think about this season, the first thing that comes to my mind is the feeling of cosiness. It’s raining outside, you’re warm perhaps under a blanket, watching your favourite movie (I leave a little suggestion here), drinking a hot beverage… feel free to add candles, and a fireplace as well to your scene! I also really like to boil ginger sticks with an orange as it is not only a tasty and healthy drink, but also adds a lovely smell for your home…
You need to find ways to spoil yourself from time to time. You’re worth it. Especially while doing a PhD!
*This is only one part of ‘hygge’….if you would like to learn more about this philosophy, check out this article.
More on wellbeing…
I mentioned that autumn could mean new beginnings, and we have a new movement in town, known as the ‘Big White Wall‘.
The movement owners were kind enough to build an actual white wall as an analogy on our campus.
Mental health and wellbeing are hugely underestimated all around the world while we live in a century that it’s perhaps the most striking with social pressures, and affecting more people everyday. Doing a PhD is definitely nerve-wracking regardless of your background or how knowledgeable you are in your field. If you ever feel the need to open up to somebody about it, and find a safe space wherever you go in life or online, please have a look at it and meet with Big White Wall. It might make a difference.
I’m leaving a few more links here about wellbeing in PhD:
- A student blog-post about Imposter Syndrome.
- A Nature article about the effects of PhD on wellbeing.
I’ll finish with the two pictures from UoM Wellbeing instagram account that I have found inspiring recently…
Be good and take care until next time,