Alumni Nick Chilton

Dr Nick Chilton is a Ramsay Memorial Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry. He gives lecturers both in the UK and abroad, teaches MChem and leads his own research group.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

The freedom to choose my own research topics. This is a research-focussed position and I lead my own group, currently consisting of one PhD student and two Post-Docs, as well as conducting research myself.

Why did you decide to stay in higher education after completing your undergraduate degree?

I was determined to pursue a research career and obtaining my PhD was a requirement for this.

Why did you pick The University of Manchester?

The University of Manchester has a fantastic international reputation, as well as being a world-leading department in my field of interest - molecular magnetism.

How did you find the research support and facilities on this course?

The facilities within both the School and the Faculty, as well as the support that’s available, were fantastic. Every technique imaginable - and an expert to help you with it - is at your fingertips.

What have been the main differences between your experience of your PhD and undergraduate degree courses?

A PhD is fundamentally different from undergraduate courses. It gives you exceptional freedom, but requires that you commit yourself and dive right into your research topic. The most important skill that you learn is time management.

What did you most enjoy about your research?

The moment when something clicks and you finally understand what your results mean. At this point, your mind opens up to the implications and you are awash with a flood of possibilities.

What did you most enjoy about living and studying in Manchester?

Manchester is a great place to live. It has a vibrant music and arts scene, as well as being literally in the heart of the country. All parts of the UK are easily accessible and in only half an hour, you can be surrounded by beautiful countryside.

How did you fund your study, and do you believe it to have been a worthwhile investment?

I was lucky enough to be awarded a President’s Doctoral Scholarship for my PhD; applying for one was the best decision I have made.

What do you think was the most valuable aspect of choosing to study at The University of Manchester?  

The connections and collaborations I made are invaluable. As Chemistry at Manchester is such a distinguished School, with a highly active research arm, the number and quality of visiting researchers is unparalleled. Furthermore, the academics in the department are second-to-none and being able to pick their brains has been fantastic.

What skills from your postgrad studies have you found particularly helpful in your current role?

Scientific writing for journal publication is an art in itself and something that comes with practice. Knowing how to frame a piece of research is essential to succeed as an academic. Of course, time management and prioritisation are crucial skills also.

How do you anticipate your qualification will help you in your career?

While having a PhD itself was a requirement for my current job, more importantly, a PhD from The University of Manchester continues to be looked upon with high regard by employers and other institutions, and thus I am very proud to be a UoM graduate.

Academia can be a tough field to break into, but if you are passionate and work hard it is truly a wonderful line of work.

What advice would you give to students hoping to pursue a similar career path?

Pursue what you enjoy – if you enjoy research, then go for it. Academia can be a tough field to break into, but if you are passionate and work hard it is truly a wonderful line of work. The most crucial skills are knowing what to prioritise, working efficiently, and, crucially, identifying a research topic that is either as-yet underdeveloped or a niche for your skills.

What are your career ambitions and what do you hope to be doing and achieving in 10 years’ time?

I will continue working in academia and within the next ten years, I hope to hold a permanent Professorship at a world-leading institution like The University of Manchester.

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