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The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences


Mitchell Sarah

Group: Theoretical and Computational Epidemiology
Supervisor: Dr Nik Cunniffe

What were you doing before you started your PhD and why did you decide to apply here?

I was in the final year of my undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews when I decided to apply here. I knew that I wanted to start a PhD but I wasn’t completely sure about which field of research I wanted to work in. I applied to the BBSRC DTP scheme as it allowed me to carry out two rotations in different labs before choosing one to carry on with for my PhD. I ended up enjoying my rotation in modelling plant diseases (despite hardly any coding or maths knowledge) and decided to carry this on for my PhD.

What do you think makes the Department of Plant Sciences a good place to work at?

Everyone in my lab has been incredibly supportive and has taught me everything that I need to know about mathematical and computational modelling. I have regular meetings with my supervisor and he always helps me to work through any problems and to think about the next steps for my project. I also have weekly meetings with everyone in my lab where we can discuss any work issues and give each other feedback and help each other.

I have access to a wide range of books and courses, and many of the experts in my field work here. The whole department is friendly and welcoming, especially at beer hours on Fridays!

What activities do you get involved in during your spare time?

I spend a lot of time with my friends from college and we attend formals and socialise on evenings together. I have recently joined the town Canoe Club and I enjoy getting out on the River Cam in my kayak. I am also on the Equality and Diversity committee for the department and I am a demonstrator on the 1A Mathematical Biology course.