Case study

PhD student — Neil Buckley

Neil Buckley is studying for a PhD in Computer Science at Liverpool Hope University

Why did you choose this institution and course?

Studying my Bachelors and Masters degrees at Liverpool Hope University’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science was a fantastic experience. I was therefore delighted when I was offered a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), which comprised a full bursary plus six hours per week of teaching undergraduates and postgraduates.

What does the programme involve?

My research concerns an area of cryptography called secret sharing, whereby a message is concealed by splitting it into separate parts.

Liverpool Hope University is one of the few places where this topic is studied. My Masters developed many skills that I needed, in areas including metaheuristics, MATLAB programming, mobile development and artificial neural networks.

I’ve been very lucky to work under the supervision of Professor Atulya Nagar, an internationally recognised expert in mathematical analysis, and visiting professor Dr S. Arumugam, a leading authority on graph theory.

Professor Nagar encouraged me to apply my research by building relationships with key industry players, and I’m now helping a software company to refine their password protection system. Professor Nagar and I are also looking to obtain a patent on an algorithm that we’ve developed.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Postgraduate study has been hugely rewarding because of the university’s focus on research and student-led technical projects. It has sharpened my vision for a career as a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher.

What advice would you give those considering the programme?

Make the most of your supervisor’s expertise and take all opportunities that come along, such as working with individuals outside of your university. This gets you noticed and allows you to apply your research.

Good time management is also important – make every effort to finish your PhD by your deadline. Striking the right balance between teaching and studying has been challenging, but I’ve taken a lot from the experience.

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