Student profile
Daniel Ratliff

Daniel Ratliff

"I’ve had a really good time studying at Surrey. The Department has offered me a lot of support along the way and have offered a friendly working environment."


Mathematics PhD

"I’ve always loved applied mathematics and in particular the mathematics of fluids has been my favourite. There so many interesting problems – how do waves behave? What kinds of flows are possible? What causes them? We’ve studied fluid mechanics for years, and even now we don’t have the answers to all the problems (turbulence for example).

My field of study is waves, and in particular water waves. We see them all the time and they have many interesting shapes, but they always have such surprising behaviours to study.

For example, there are dangerous waves that form in the ocean that suddenly become very large for short times before disappearing without a trace. Waves also occur in nature via the patterning on animals, and so I’m also driven by an interest in how this occurs.

One of the main reasons I chose Surrey was due to the people it had in its Department of Mathematics. There were a lot of names I recognised from reading books and papers (like my advisor, Tom Bridges, as well as Rebecca Hoyle and Anne Skeldon), which meant that I knew that the quality of research was high.

Another reason I chose Surrey was its vicinity to London, which has many other universities. This meant that there was the possibility to travel there and network with other students and academics. London also has plenty to do, and I have by no means exhausted all of them!

"I’ve had a really good time studying at Surrey. The Department has offered me a lot of support along the way and have offered a friendly working environment."


The staff are academically gifted, which has helped me to develop my own knowledge and has led to me generating many original ideals of my own.

My adviser Tom has been nothing short of a superstar. His awareness of the field and academia have helped me accomplish things I never thought possible during my PhD.

His knowledge and advice have led to the two of us generating a lot of original research that we’ve published, which I definitely couldn’t have done without him! Even when I finish the PhD, I think the two of us will still have a lot of good problems to work through together.

The Library has been invaluable! Not only has it provided me plenty of books that I’ve used through my studies, but it has a lot of good journal subscriptions that has helped my work. Their staff are also really helpful, and if they don’t have a resource you’d like they’ll always work to make it available to you.

The Surrey Sports Park was also a facility I used a lot, especially when I got into climbing. Their gym is really good, particularly after a long day in the office. It also has various courts, a swimming pool and various other facilities that help you keep active during your time at Surrey. It also has a Starbucks, which is very convenient if you’re a coffee lover like myself!

There has been a lot of opportunity to work with other experts, both in and out of the Department. The members of the Department are always happy to work with you on a related topic and offer their expertise. Outside of Surrey, you get the chance to meet and discuss ideas with academics at conferences, both nationally and internationally. I got a lot of good ideas for my work this way, and I gave plenty of other people good ideas too!

"I’ve made many good friends in my time here and I’ll definitely keep in touch with them after I leave."


There are two achievements I’m fond of that I accomplished during my time at Surrey. The first was publishing many papers, including solo author papers on my research. It was fairly difficult to do, but the Department has been supportive every step of the way.

It has felt very, very rewarding – it was also very exciting to see people citing my work too!

The second is that I have started to be invited, rather than applying, to give talks about my work. Of these, I’m particularly fond of one that took place in Banff Research Station in Canada in which my talk was recorded and archived. I also made a lot of good contacts whilst I was there who I will hopefully keep working with in the future.

After I’ve submitted, I’ll be starting an academic position at Loughborough to do even more research. After getting a taste for academia during my PhD I felt like it was the most suitable (and enjoyable) career path to take. I hope to undertake a few postdoctoral positions before applying for lectureships."


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