Tracey Robertson, PhD Nutritional Sciences

Tracey Robertson PhDPostgraduate Opportunities

University of Surrey

The PhD experience at Surrey has been a lot of fun. I have learned a lot, gained new skills and made many new friends.

I have always been interested in the field of nutrition, but also frustrated by the amount of conflicting nutrition advice reported in the media, often due to misinterpretation of research findings. I had worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and was frequently asked for nutrition advice by my clients, but did not feel that I had sufficient knowledge to give them good advice. I wanted to learn more, which led me to enrolling on an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics. Whilst completing my undergraduate degree, I realised that what I enjoyed most was the research aspect of it, so it made sense to me to combine my interests in nutrition and research by undertaking a PhD.

I originally studied Computer Science at the University of Aberdeen and worked in the IT industry for a number of years before deciding on a career change and completing a BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics here at the University of Surrey in 2011.

I had completed my undergraduate degree at Surrey and had really enjoyed my time here.

When I decided that I wanted to do a PhD, Surrey was the natural choice as it has an excellent reputation in nutrition research and I also have family commitments in the area.

My supervisor has been very supportive throughout the entire PhD. She has allowed me to drive my own research, whilst always being there to guide me when required. She has also gently pushed me into doing things that I would naturally shy away from, such as public speaking – something which, although I don’t exactly enjoy it, I appreciate the necessity of!

Surrey has excellent resources, which I have made good use of during my time here. As well as the Library and science labs, I have really appreciated the facilities available to conduct my human interventions in, such as the Clinical Investigation Unit and the Surrey Clinical Research Centre.

My PhD was funded by a BBSRC CASE studentship, which means that I had support from an industrial partner, Campden BRI, as well as the BBSRC. As well as financial support, I made some good connections at Campden and had the opportunity to visit their premises and learn more about the food research industry, which was very interesting and something I previously had no exposure to.

As someone who was once told that she was so nervous doing a presentation that she made her audience uncomfortable, I am very proud to have made some improvements in that area. Whilst I still get very nervous, I hide it a bit better and have even won a prize for best oral communication at a conference, so there is hope for me!

Aside from work, I have made many good friends whilst at Surrey, both students and staff.

I have also really enjoyed the excellent facilities at Surrey Sports Park.

I have obviously really loved being at Surrey, as I’m still here. I now work for my old PhD supervisor as a Research Fellow on a three year project. The only difference is I am now researching potatoes instead of coffee!

Seeing things differently is at the heart of what we do at the University of Surrey. We see things not only as they are, but as they could be. If you are considering a doctoral programme, it means that you see things differently too – yourself in a new career, your passion for your subject, or wanting to be part of changing the world for the better. Find out more about our doctoral programmes and join us at an exciting time.