Zie: PhD Environmental Health and Risk Management

Zie, a PhD Environmental Health and Risk Management student, describes his experiences of the course and of life in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.


My name’s Zhe Tian. I'm a final year PhD student based in Environmental Risk and Health Management Department. My research is about identifying and quantify sources of air pollutants in urban area in China.

I chose Birmingham University because we have a leading scientific group on air quality research. And another reason is Birmingham is a very nice city and we also have a really lovely campus.

I need to do quite a lot of things per day. I think in the early morning I will reply to some emails and do some reading – I think keep reading is a very good habit. And I will just go to the lab and finish the plan of the lab work and proceed in my lab because my research is more about experiments. But also I will meet my first supervisor weekly to have a very regular meeting with him to secure my progress is well monitored. It’s a less formal. And every month I will have a very formal meeting with my first and co supervisor to discuss what I have done in the last month.

We have a very big office, and all students are studying similar topics. So normally, for example, during lunchtime we will communicate with each other in the common room while eating. It’s a very good networking and we can also know some frontiers from other research groups.

My favourite thing staying in Birmingham is to build a very productive relationship between myself and the supervisor, and growing that from a taught student to a real researcher.

Apart from the academics I'm really enjoying lots of activities provided by Guild of Students, and this year I joined the Archery Society. I practice actually twice a week. From this sport I'm learning how to be focused, how to be a calm person but also confident person to build a very good psychology.

Hopefully I can do a short term, for example, two year postdoc in somewhere, and to gain more experience and publishing more articles before I really join the academic society. And after that I want to go back to China to carry on my research on air quality in China and to do some contributions. From this year, because it’s my final year, I build a very close contact with the career network to have some more ideas about what’s going in the future.

Ideally I really want to be a lecturer in a university. So I attended a training course by the Graduate School on Teaching. I finish most of them. And every year I will do some demonstration for Masters students. And for publishing papers, I've already got a draft for a review on my research topic, and in the final year I will publish one or two other papers on my data to show what I've done in the last three years.