Matthew Ribbans

Studying for a PhD with Integrated Studies in Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham
(BEng Materials Science and Technology, 2017)

Although in theory I am studying chemical engineering, I am probably as far away from traditional chemical engineering as you can get! I am looking into the use of certain biological products (bone marrow concentrate and platelet rich plasma) for the regeneration of bone and cartilage tissue. In order to make treatment as effective as possible it is delivered within a gel. As such I'm looking into suitable carriers for these biological products. Day to day this means reading research papers to stay up to date, planning and carrying out experimental work.

In my final year I knew I didn’t want to stay solely in the field of materials; I had completed a biomaterials module and this was the sort of thing I wanted to pursue further. I had applied for two different master programmes: MSc Trauma Science here at Birmingham and MSc Bioengineering elsewhere. I was leaning towards the Trauma Science course and to find out more about potential projects I emailed Professor Grover (my now supervisor) who offered to meet and it quickly went from there to starting a PhD in September!

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I love that I have the time and freedom to pretty much focus on what I want. My research has a clear clinical application and knowing that really excites me.

What motivates you?
I just want to keep doing something that I enjoy. I don't mind how much it is paid or even where it is, as long as I am having fun and enjoying what I’m doing.

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
I really liked the small Materials Department; it was very friendly. As well as the University's location – being 10 minutes from the City Centre and on a campus with a great student area. Birmingham's location in the centre of the country is also perfect!

What are your fondest memories of the University?
The truly lifelong friends I have made (I’m the one in the middle of the photo!), as well as meeting someone who I know will one day be my wife.

How did you grow as a person by coming to University?
University allowed me to try everything, doing things that I could not have done if I’d stayed at home.

What did you think of the learning experience within the University?
Materials is such an interdisciplinary subject, as such my course gave me the skills to work with a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds.

What inspired you most during your time as a student?
As materials is such a small department, in third year especially some of the optional modules only had around 20 of us in the class. This allowed me to really get to know the lecturers and seeing how passionate they are about their research inspired me approach whatever I did with the same vigour.

What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?
Get involved with the department, become a student rep and join the Materials Society (BUMS) committee. You'll get to know the other years and staff even better (which brings its own rewards)!

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