Lewis White – Student Rep

Being a DTP Student Rep can provide much fun and valuable skills development.  Read Lewis White’s journey here:

Lewis began his PhD in 2016.  Supported by his supervisor, Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra of The University of York, Lewis is researching: Life in extreme environments: adaptation and evolution of African soda lake fishes. 

He volunteered to take on the role of a Student Representative for the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in his first year and enjoyed the role so much that he plans to continue the role into his fourth and final year, from October 2019.  His contribution to the work of the DTP has proved invaluable.  In particular, planning and running an annual Symposium for just under 300 PhD students across the partnership is a huge responsibility that has been capably handled by Lewis, leading the current team of Student Reps (five reps in total).  This has had the advantage of ensuring the Symposium is student-friendly, whilst retaining the highest academic standards.  The detailed project planning has been exemplary, with the added benefit of allowing the DTP Co-ordinator to have an oversight and freeing up her time for other DTP tasks.  The student feedback on DTP training courses presented to the Management Board has positively influenced the development of the training programme for the new academic year.  Lewis’s leadership skills, teamwork, communication skills, commitment and his enthusiastic approach are much appreciated by the DTP Management Board.

Lewis describes his experience as a Student Rep and the skills he has gained in his own words:

“I started my PhD at the University of York in 2016 and chose to study here for three main reasons; the university, the programme and the project. The research excellence and the scientific community at the university and the diverse training the DTP offered very much appealed to me. Most important was the project; I study life in extreme environments, tying together molecular, genetic and developmental biology techniques to answer questions in evolution and the limits of adaptation, whilst attempting to produce an animal model for life in extreme environmental conditions. 

“Having moved to York to start my PhD, the position of Student Rep was very attractive. I believed it would help me to meet people from across my cohort, as well as allowing me to be involved in the organisation of my programme throughout my time here. Leading meetings with my fellow DTP students in York and relaying their feedback to the management board was a great way for me to actively engage in the running of the DTP whilst hopefully promoting positive changes for current and future students. Through this process I have become a much better communicator to different audiences and have expanded my network, which has already been useful for my current research and potentially for my future career.

Lewis (left) and fellow Student Reps working hard on the 2019 Symposium

“One of my first acts as Student Rep was the suggestion that the annual Symposia be student led. In 2017 I led a group of student volunteers from across the DTP in organising the Symposium. Myself and my team selected speakers, designed the programme for the day and did everything required to make the day a success. Due to the positive feedback received, the annual symposium has remained student led and I have been lucky enough to aid others in organising in subsequent years.

“Now entering my 4th year as Student Rep, I think that I have made some positive changes to the DTP as well as gaining much experience outside of my research during my PhD. I believe that during my time as Student Rep there has been continuing involvement from the student cohort and increased amount of feedback on training and events. This has been very useful in streamlining training and improving it for future years. I have been active in my role as Student Rep and hope that my continued presence in the position has encouraged other students to talk to me freely of their concerns.

“I have really enjoyed learning about how the DTP is managed and know that I have picked up many skills in group management, facilitating discussions amongst groups of people and event organisation. Being a Student Rep has been a very good parallel to my academic studies and taught me many skills that would be useful in both academic and non-academic career paths.”

Lewis and the other Student Reps do an excellent job in representing student views and in supporting the work of the DTP.

We will have a couple of vacancies for Student Reps in January 2019. 

If you think you would be interested, please contact the DTP Co-ordinator for a no-obligation chat:

Email: c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk  Or, if you know the Student Reps yourself, feel free to contact them directly.