Ayesha Bint-E-Siddiq

Why did you choose to study for a PhD at the University of Leeds?

The institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE) at University of Leeds is known for its world-class research and innovative environment, which are the two main factors that attracted me to apply. Unlike a conventional PhD, the multidisciplinary nature of the CDT programme was most appealing to me as it reflected my interests.

Tell us about your research

My current project is to characterise the mechanical properties of spinal ligaments and develop a method of modelling ligaments computationally. I am working with ovine tissue, dissecting sheep spine, extracting ligaments, testing them experimentally in the laboratory to work out their mechanical properties. The computational models will be built to represent and validate these properties. The work will mark a step-change from the current state-of-the-art, where ligaments properties are derived from widely varying data in the literature. The data produced will feed into future spinal modelling at the institute.

What is your favourite part of studying at Leeds?

The best aspect has been the support that I receive both from staff and my fellow students. I work with supervisors that have common interests but with different backgrounds. They guide me in many different ways to overcome problems with an interdisciplinary approach and help me reach maximum potential. The University offers excellent courses and training to support research students in academic, professional and personal development.

What activities do you take part in outside of your studies?

I undertake Laboratory demonstrations for undergraduates to help them understand the content of the laboratory and module. I also undertake invigilation duties during the examination period. I am an active volunteer of IMechE and have been on the North Yorkshire Young Members Committee, and currently elected as Honorary Secretary. I also take part in a number of public engagement activities run by the university including Science festivals, open days, conferences and school visits. I am also part of a committee working towards establishing a ‘Postgraduate Researchers’ society for Mechanical Engineers’ to bring all the researchers together from different institutes within the school of Mechanical Engineering.

In my spare time, I like to keep active by going to the gym regularly and taking part in sports. I have been the Sports Officer for LUU Islamic Society over last two years which involved organising weekly sports events for female members of the society.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I would like to make a career in academia but first I would like to work in industry for a few years to get some hands-on experience of engineering and to understand the challenges that these industries face and translate them later in my future research.

Your advice to prospective students

The university has a lot to offer, with Mechanical Engineering listed as the first in league table 2016, the prospectus speaks for itself! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Leeds and there is not one thing I can fault. The opportunities that one gets as a student here at Leeds and the course itself has developed me into a well-rounded individual and I would recommend others to definitely visit Leeds and I am sure it will help them narrow it down to their first choice!