Posted July 3 2018
Institute: Institute for Future Environments
Year graduated: 2018
Thesis: Studies on the hydrothermal liquefaction of lignin to dicarboxylic acids and aromatics (PhD by publication)
Career category: academic
A PhD at QUT and a Fulbright Scholarship have enabled Dr Dylan Cronin to build his career and research profile in the field of sustainable bio-based energy.
What position are you currently in?
I am currently working as a Research Associate within the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB) at QUT. In this role I am engaged in several different research projects, each of which pertain to the production of sustainable fuels and materials from agricultural and industrial waste streams.
I also act in a supervisory role to the numerous HDR students in my collaborative research team.
Could you reflect on what the value of doing a PhD has been for you?
As a Chemist I viewed the PhD process as a necessary step in building my career in research. Having worked part-time as a research assistant during my bachelor degree I quickly realised that I enjoy and relate to the academic research environment that universities provide. Pursuing a PhD, and a research career in environmental sustainability within the academic sector, seemed a great fit to my personal and professional values.
What motivated you to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship during your PhD journey?
When I first decided to undertake a PhD it was an aspiration of mine to spend 1 year of the process studying abroad. After learning about the Fulbright program I saw this as a great potential opportunity to achieve my goal of living and studying abroad.
During my year as a Fulbright scholar in the United States I furthered my research into the production of sustainable materials from agricultural waste. This was made possible through the academic collaboration and hospitality of Prof. Xiao Zhang and the staff and students of the Bioproducts, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) at Washington State University.
Throughout my time as a Fulbright scholar I not only met many wonderful researchers in my own field, but through the numerous social events organised by Fulbright I met a broad array of inspiring and warm people from all over the world.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give to someone who is close to completing their PhD at QUT?
Completing a PhD is by no means a simple task. It is arduous and frustrating and can be a time of significant personal stress, particularly in the final year. However, in my experience the majority of students who undertake post-graduate research are individuals who are well suited to this endeavour, and are capable of meeting the challenge.
My advice to students in the final year of their PhD is therefore to simply keep at it. You’ve made it this far and are capable of seeing it through. Do your best to manage the pressures involved, knowing that it can be a lifestyle of devotion, but that it won’t go on forever!