Episode 4: Dr Julia Collins

EDIT: I had the wrong link to Julia and Haggis’s blog in both the podcast and in this post! D’oh! Sorry about that everyone. I’ve corrected it now. Big thanks to Colin Wright for spotting it and letting me know.

Two podcasts in under a week! It’s almost like it’s your birthday!

In Episode 4 I have a chat with Dr Julia Collins, who had her viva in 2011. She got her PhD in maths (in the same field as me) from the University of Edinburgh. Since completing her PhD, Julia has had the position of Mathematics Engagement Officer at Edinburgh. Her stuffed sheep Haggis blogs about maths and science communication here and you can follow them both on Twitter: @haggismaths. It was great to talk to Julia about her PhD and viva; we met several years ago at various conferences, and were both doing research in the same branch of maths.

Note that there is a slight echo on the podcast audio; sorry about that! I forgot to plug in my headphones when we were recording, and it only became apparent towards the end. I’ll watch out for that more on future recordings!

Please share Viva Survivors with friends, family, colleagues, peers, anyone and everyone! If you have comments about the podcasts or questions about the viva then please get in touch, maybe they are things that I can explore in future podcasts. I’m always looking for more people to interview too.

And as ever, we’re on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 3: Dr Jennifer Cromwell

After a delay of several weeks Viva Survivors is back!

In Episode 3 I talk with Dr Jennifer Cromwell, who earned her PhD in Egyptology from the University of Liverpool in 2008. Jenny is a Macquarie University Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, and we had our conversation with a nine hour time difference! Jenny had lots to say about her experience as a postgraduate researcher and a really interesting viva story.

I was really interested to hear about her experience as an early career researcher, and she shared some valuable insights from her career so far.

Keep checking back for details of the next episode of Viva Survivors, which will be up hopefully by the weekend! You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors – and please RT and share the podcast and site with others that you think will be interested.

Slight Delay

Hi all, hope that you’re finding the first two podcasts interesting. It has been great to see so many people downloading the podcasts already and I’d really love to hear from you if you have any questions for future interviewees, or just questions about vivas in general.

There’s a slight hold-up in getting the next few podcasts ready for upload: I’m directing GRADschools for the KESS programme, so it’s going to be next weekend before Episode 3 goes up. Sorry, I had hoped to get it ready sooner.

It’s worth waiting for though! I’m interviewing Dr Jennifer Cromwell, an egyptologist at Macquarie University in Australia. I really enjoyed talking with her, and I think that you’ll find her perspective interesting! Stay tuned, follow Viva Survivors on Twitter for more updates, or drop me a line.

Episodes 1 and 2 Comments

I am not entirely sure why the comments didn’t work for the first two podcast posts, but they seem to be working well enough for future posts. So if you have any comments or questions for Episode 1, featuring Dr Shaine Bushell, or Episode 2 with Dr Anna Tarrant then please write them here! Thanks.

Also you can follow me on Twitter, @VivaSurvivors, or email if you want to with any questions or comments.

Episode 2: Dr Anna Tarrant

In Episode 2 of Viva Survivors I talk with Dr Anna Tarrant, who had her viva last year for her PhD in social geography at Lancaster University. Anna is a Research Associate at the Open University, and is also the Managing Editor of PhD2Published, a site that

“offers a wealth of hints and tips for early-career academics on how to get published as well providing discussion on the future of academic publishing in the e-age”.

PhD2Published looks really cool, and they also have a weekly livechat over Twitter using the hashtag #acwri.

Episode 1 of Viva Survivors is here, and the next episode of Viva Survivors will be along some time in the next ten days; check back for details, or follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 1: Dr Shaine Bushell

In the first episode of Viva Survivors I’m talking with Dr Shaine Bushell, PhD maths graduate of the University of Liverpool and now the Mathematics Enhancement Course Leader at the University of Chester.

Shaine and I were officemates during my PhD, and we’ve remained close friends ever since. It was great to interview him for Viva Survivors, and really interesting to hear the story of how he came to be a researcher, how he prepared for his viva, what happened and what he has been doing since then.

Episode 2 of Viva Survivors is up right now! For details of future episodes, be sure to follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.

The Viva Survivors Podcast is here

About a year ago I had an idea to interview people about their viva and share their experiences, so that PhD candidates would have the mysteriousness of the viva demystified a little. I wanted to ask people about how they had prepared, what others had told them, and also ask them about their experience on the day.

When I started to develop the idea and talk to people I realised that it was not going to be enough to just ask people about the viva. It would be important to understand the context that they were in. What was their research about? Why had they done it? What had that been like? Did they enjoy doing it? And what were they doing now? What had their PhD meant to them, and what advice did they have for people who were researching now?

Following the name of some workshops that I deliver, I decided that it would be neat to call these interviewees Viva Survivors. Plus it just sounds cool!

Today the site launches with two interviews:

  • Dr Shaine Bushell, a PhD maths graduate from the University of Liverpool
  • Dr Anna Tarrant, a PhD social geography graduate from Lancaster University

In the next month there will be at least two more podcasts going up, and I’m looking for more people to interview so that I can maintain a regular update schedule of two or three new podcasts a month. Would you like to be interviewed for the podcast? I’m looking for PhD graduates from all backgrounds, all disciplines, all nationalities – whether you work in academia now or not, whether you were part time or full time, had fun or hated it – I want to hear from YOU! The listeners of the podcast do too.

So get in touch with me, either via my work site or on this site. Please tell people about Viva Survivors, volunteer to be interviewed – or if you have any questions or topics that you think I should cover in future episodes please let me know.

Follow Viva Survivors on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors!


Around noon tomorrow, 6th June 2012, I’ll put the first two podcasts up on here. They are interviews with Dr Shaine Bushell, a maths PhD graduate, and Dr Anna Tarrant, a social geography PhD graduate. They were among the first people that I interviewed for Viva Survivors, and I’m hoping that you will find their stories as interesting as I did.

So tune in then! And in the mean time, follow this site on Twitter here: @VivaSurvivors. See you tomorrow.