Fatma Salahioglu

Chemistry PhD

Kent provides a pleasant research environment, a variety of state-of-the-art analytical instruments and great supervisors.

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I chose Kent because it offered one of the best Forensic Science courses among the UK universities. After I started studying there I knew that I had made the right choice. After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science, I carried on at Kent to do my PhD. The reason for staying on at Kent, besides falling in love with Canterbury, was the variety of research projects available to me in chemistry, which gave me the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge I had acquired during my undergraduate studies (especially in Analytical Chemistry).

What attracted you to the course?

In forensic science and chemistry, Kent provides a pleasant research environment, a variety of state-of-the-art analytical instruments and great supervisors. Having studied Forensic Science, getting the chance to do a PhD in Chemistry (still within my area) equipped me with a wider range of skills and expertise, giving me better opportunities in terms of job prospects.

What did you particularly enjoy?

I enjoyed everything I studied and did research on. In particular, life on the campus was great. Canterbury is an amazing little ‘city’, not too big and crowded, yet still lively because of the number of students.

What are you doing now?

I am working as a research scientist at one of the government laboratories under the Agency for Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. My general area of work is in analytical chemistry.

How did you find the supervision process?

Everyone has a unique style of working; therefore you must choose your supervisors accordingly. My supervisor was the perfect choice; I liked working mostly on my own and at my own pace, but he was always there whenever I needed advice or help. Other people in the department were also extremely helpful.

How have your studies helped you in your current role?

My PhD research area was mainly on analytical chemistry, particularly in Raman spectroscopy. Not many institutions have a state-of-the-art Raman spectrometer, but Kent provides its researchers with one. This enabled me to gain expertise on Raman spectroscopy, which is an emerging and valuable tool for non-destructive analysis of samples. At the Institute of Chemical & Engineering Sciences in Singapore, they are using many advanced analytical instruments, including Raman spectrometers. The hands-on experience I gained on spectroscopy and analytics at Kent has greatly helped me in my current role.

What’s next for you?

I intend to improve myself further, not just in analytical chemistry, but other areas of chemistry and forensic science as well. Working in a research environment where you are always encouraged to think outside the box seems like a good strategy for the future.

What advice can you offer potential research students?

Make sure you choose/come up with a project that you will enjoy researching for the next three years (at least!). Bear in mind that not everything will go smoothly all the time; so if you don’t have passion for your chosen subject you may end up not enjoying your research experience. Don’t be afraid of trying any new idea that comes to your mind – you never know what doors it will open for you, but do not stray too far off your research area. Not many people realise that doing a PhD means you gain a lot of experience and knowledge in a tiny area of research. You probably won’t have time to do everything you come up with. Stay focused.