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Doctoral College

Icebreakers with Tim Warner (Dean for Postgraduate Research and Director of Doctoral College)

Prof. Warner has been listed by the Institute for Scientific Information among the top 0.5% of cited pharmacologists. He has served as Deputy Dean for Research in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Deputy Director (Research & Innovation) of Queen Mary’s Life Science Initiative, and Director of the Blizard Institute among other roles within QM. We met with him and talked about his vision for the Doctoral College.

Prof Tim Warner

You have been with the Doctoral College for a long time now. How have you witnessed its evolving nature?

Well, in the late 1980s I was a PhD student within The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital which is now part of QM. So, one way or another I can claim to have been part of the Doctoral College for over 30 years. All those years ago when I started my own PhD studies the life of a PGR student was almost exclusively focused on their own project and their own supervisor and local team. Now we are very keen to offer our PGR students a much broader training and experience, ensure that they have opportunities to develop useful skills and links, and think very much about their next steps. While we want being at QM to be a great experience, we also want it to increase each student’s life opportunities. I think this is where the Doctoral College has evolved most, in this drive to improve PGRs time with us and time after us.   

What behaviours do you think are valued the most at Queen Mary?

As you know from my previous answer I have been in and around QM for many years. I think we really value people acting in a friendly and constructive manner and I come across examples of this every day across QM from all types of staff members.

What do you think should be the utmost priority to make lives of PGRs easier?

That’s a question we think about very often. To be honest, I think it varies by different PGR students. For example, for some of our students from both home and overseas the current cost of living crisis is a really big problem. London is expensive to live in and rents can be particularly high. For other students, it can be our estate, space to study, and access to research areas and opportunities to meet staff members. Some of our students need help with visa issues. We are also aware of students who need personal health and welfare support, and these needs seem to keep on growing. Then of course there are always the ups and downs of pursuing PhD studies; experiments don’t work out, libraries are closed, resources become unavailable. It can be difficult at times.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to PGRs?

Well, I’m going to make it two which I think are equally important. Firstly, enjoy your PhD. It’s such a great opportunity to be able to spend a few years immersed in a deep study which can hopefully be a real passion project for you. Secondly, be sure to talk to us. Tell us the good stuff, but also never be shy about telling your supervisors or other members of the PGR team if you have a problem. While it may be very worrying for you as a student it is highly unlikely that we won’t have experienced it before and have good advice. We all understand that studying for a PhD can become rather overwhelming at times and we’re happy to help.

Some encouraging words for our prospective offer-holders?

All I can say is that you’ll have a fantastic time at QM. As Director of the Doctoral College, I make sure each year to meet with all of our PGR teams in schools, institutes, and our doctoral training schemes, and they are all really committed to giving you the best possible experience. 



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