My student experience

Student profile

Paschalia Mavrou

One of the great things about working in such a multicultural environment as Surrey is meeting people from different disciplines and backgrounds.

"Ever since I was young I had a fascination with understanding how things work. In school, I learned about physics and how it helps us make sense of the physical world around us. As my dad is a mechanical engineer he helped me understand that mechanical engineering is nothing more than applied physics.

I studied Mechanical Engineering in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. After my graduation, I had the opportunity to work in a research centre where I collaborated with people from different backgrounds and disciplines. I found I particularly enjoyed breaking down a big problem into smaller tasks and solving it one step at a time. At this point I realised if I wanted a career in research I needed a doctorate.

Paschalia Mavrou
Paschalia Mavrou

The EngD in Sustainability is a good opportunity to conduct research in an industrial environment. It is a combination of a classic PhD that also allows you to understand how a multinational company like Unilever (in my case) conducts research.

I am really enjoying studying at Surrey. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and I’ve interacted with social scientists, people who have been working in the industry for years but decided to come back to academia, and people straight out of university. I’ve also learned a lot about sustainability. Overall, it’s been an exciting and very educational experience for me.

The aim of doing a PhD is to become an independent researcher by the end of it, and I am confident I will be able to achieve just that by working with Dr Tao Chen and Professor Guoping Lian. They are very encouraging but also know how to nudge in a productive manner when things don’t go as expected. What I enjoy most about our collaboration is the thought provoking feedback I get whenever I present them with a piece of work.

As I am not primarily based at the University, being able to access and download journals remotely has been very useful for me. My work is primarily computational and the VPN access to the University servers and software bought by our research group has been invaluable to me.

My PhD is inherently collaborative. I am registered with the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, my supervisors are from the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering and I’m based in Unilever R&D in Colworth. Having input for my research from people with very different backgrounds, skills and expertise has been invaluable to the development of my project. I am confident that this is exactly what will give my research the edge.


I was selected to present my work at IChemE’s 2017 UK Particle Technology Forum where I was awarded 3rd prize in the Young Researcher’s Award.


When you see your research develop on a day-to-day basis, you can’t really appreciate your own progress. Awards like this can help you gain some perspective, as well as motivate you to go even further!

One of the great things about working in such a multicultural environment as Surrey is meeting people from different disciplines and backgrounds which can be very thought provoking. Another thing I really enjoy about Surrey is its beautiful campus. On a good day, a coffee break by the lake is the best way to unwind before going back to tackle your research.

I love learning new things and solving problems, so I believe I’d like to stay in research in the future. However, I’m still undecided on whether I’d prefer to stay in academia or work for a company."


Read more student profiles and explore our programmes in environment and sustainability, including our PhD in Sustainability and EngD in Sustainability.

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