Matthew Kaan Alkan is a member of Scenario Cohort 3, who recently defended his thesis in Chemical Ecology. He took part in the Scenario Student Twitter Take Over where he reflected on his PhD journey

Cool places I have been during my PhD
Even though I am not the biggest fan of travel I have still managed to undertake some great opportunities to travel around the UK and Europe to attend conferences and visit other organisations.

I kicked off my travels by visiting the Met Office in Exeter for the day where I got a tour of their supercomputer, which as a chemist was an eye-opening experience. The visit also gave me the opportunity to learn about their aircraft-based monitoring capabilities which truly gave me PhD envy.

I have also visited both the EnFlo Wind Tunnel at the University of Surrey and Rothamsted Research in Harpenden. Both visits were amazing opportunities to not only take a look at some really cool kit but also experience a little bit of how the non-academic science industry works.

view of Budapest

I was also able to visit the wonderful city of Budapest for the international Society of Chemical Ecology conference in 2018 where I met researchers from all over the globe. It was a great opportunity to broaden my own ecological knowledge, while also meeting some amazing people and making some great friends.

Where will you go on your PhD journey? The opportunities are endless and the world is your oyster.



Let’s talk outreach
Outreach involves exposing people to ideas and opportunities that they may not have traditionally had exposure to and can take a multitude of different forms depending on what is being communicated such as; public lectures, hands-on practical events or one to one inspiration events.

During my PhD, I have taken part in a multitude of outreach events and wanted to showcase some of these excellent opportunities here (although this is a non-exhaustive list). I have been lucky enough to demonstrate for the Royal Society of Chemistry “Top of the Bench” chemistry competition which was a great opportunity to bring school students into the lab and get them hands-on with complex scientific equipment. It was so inspiring to see the students’ passion for science and talk to them about my own life story and how I came from a standard state school and am now studying a doctorate down to my determination and support from my family.

Certificate from "I'm A Scientist"

“I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here” has been another great outreach opportunity where I was matched online with school classes from around the UK for one hour ask me anything sessions. It was great to be able to speak to, and hopefully inspire, so many school students with such a little time cost and I would encourage everyone to take part.

Outreach was a huge driver in transforming my life chances and showing me that I was able to do anything that I want to do. I would really encourage everyone to take part in outreach so you too can hopefully inspire the next generation and in doing so transform lives.