PhD Student at Queen’s University Belfast

What is your PhD about?

I am doing a PhD centered in chemistry and I am based in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. My PhD is focused on making biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery. I basically make polymers, which can form into nanoparticles that transport drugs like doxorubicin (an anti-cancer drug) throughout the body.

Tell us about yourself

I am 25 years old and I’m originally from a small town in Northern Ireland called Carrickfergus. I currently live with my girlfriend in Belfast. I went to the University of St Andrews in Scotland to study for a Masters degree in Medicinal Chemistry before returning to Northern Ireland to start my PhD. During my Master’s degree, I went on a year in industry for Reckitt Benckiser working on the Nurofen range of products. I am an avid runner too and manage to find time for marathons in between my studies. I have just completed my 17th marathon in Barcelona and I’m aiming to complete a 100-mile race in August 2019. I also play Bridge in my spare time and have represented Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland at international level.

What is your side hustle?

I tutor GCSE and A level students in Chemistry (they are high school students) and earn extra money by demonstrating in undergraduate labs. I initially started off charging £11 an hour when I started my PhD and now earn £30 an hour after receiving good reviews and increasing my tutoring experience. Some kids can be a challenge but when you are only with them an hour or two a week you can get through it.

Why did you start your side hustle?

I started tutoring because the stipend given to us isn’t sufficient to continue the lifestyle I had. I don’t drive and try to be frugal on expenses so that I can save around £500 per month and have a deposit for a mortgage set up by the end of my PhD. Tutoring is also a great experience if you want to continue in academia as it gives you teaching experience. I am fairly sure I will move into industry upon the completion of my PhD but it’s great to have the option and experience in the bank.

Find out more about Gavin on Instagram @chemrunner

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