Civil & environmental engineeringChristopher McMahon

Christopher McMahon, PhD student, Strathclyde University

PhD: Civil & Environmental Engineering

"I chose to study a PhD at Strathclyde for two main reasons. Firstly, the PhD on offer at Strathclyde was a topic that I specialised in during my MSc. This is a research area that I enjoy working in and consider to be particularly important in combating some of the world’s key issues (eg climate change).

"Secondly, the supervision team and the wider staff, department and university had a convincing and authentic attitude towards ensuring a positive approach to academic study. At Strathclyde, I am based in Civil & Environmental Engineering, working alongside a team of geoscientists and engineers. This provides a great opportunity for interdisciplinary learning and a chance to increase collaboration."

What most interests you about your area of study?

My area of study focuses on subsurface GeoEnergy technologies. These are primarily technologies which are low-carbon or aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (eg Carbon Capture and Storage and Energy Storage). As a geoscientist by study, specifically a geologist, this area of research has allowed me to work between disciplines.

This is an emerging sector in geoscience research and will likely become the key area that future geologists and geoscientists will be trained in as the need to tackle issues such as climate change remains paramount. This field of research is really gaining pace as the potential and importance is realised by business, governments and the wider public.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD student at Strathclyde?

Strathclyde is a great university based in a great city. Strathclyde is an open, inclusive and welcoming university. It is based in the heart of Glasgow city centre. It is a friendly city with great culture, arts, music, sports and nightlife. People truly do make Glasgow. I enjoy the atmosphere around campus and feel that there is a greater sense of community than at some of Scotland’s other universities (in my experience). I enjoy having the chance to study something that I enjoy, in a city I enjoy living in, with a supportive university community that I enjoy being a part of.

How do you feel your PhD study is preparing you for the future?

At the time of writing I am still in my first year of study. However, I already feel that I have continued to build skills since starting. Many Strathclyde PhDs require students to also complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD). This is a great chance to keep track of your professional development and highlight how you can use skills that you gain in the future.

There is significant scope for professional development during studies, with the university providing tailored courses that are available to PhD students.

What do you hope to do after your PhD study? 

I may have a better answer in a few years’ time, however right now I feel like I would like to do something that involves teaching. It is something that I enjoy and find very rewarding.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing PhD study at Strathclyde?

Do something you enjoy. Make sure you really want to do a PhD and that you really want to do the PhD you applied for. If you think that there is a PhD that suits you at Strathclyde then go for it! If the PhD is right for you, the university and city will not disappoint!