Thursday, December 11, 2008

Planning for PhD

After the painful experience of seeing my masters supervisor resign a few months ago, things have been turning out rather nicely. A huge advantage of working with my new supervisor is that she has good international collaboration. Last month I met the lead developer (from Illinois) of VMD, one of the visualisation programs I'll be writing my masters project for. This week it got even better!

This week, Dr Robert Best is visiting from Cambridge. It is looking increasingly more likely as time passes that he will be my PhD supervisor. Yes, that is correct...I am this close to getting the amazing opportunity of studying my PhD at Cambridge! The only hurdle at the moment is funding. I've been very slowly releasing news of this, as I first got word of the possibility around the time I started my new masters project a couple months ago. This is entirely thanks to my masters supervisor, Michelle Kuttel, who put me in contact with Dr Best.

Yesterday I met him for the first time, and we discussed potential research topics. The deadline for applications is due very soon, so for the moment we're focussing on a particular topic that looks very promising. Summarising very crudely, it's about taking advantage of both the speed of coarse-grained simulations and the accuracy of fine-grained simulations to produce fast, but accurate simulations of biomolecules. The main question here is how to swap between different representations of the system. Another possibility we have been looking into is furthering his research in reaction coordinates, which he summarises on his website.

By the way, this is the reason I am trying to finish my masters in a year. The year starts in October at Cambridge, and starting when their year begins makes things much simpler.