Our PhD students go on to a range of exciting roles in industry and research, often applying their knowledge to help solve global challenges. We caught up with former PhD student Richard Oduro, who is now part of SUPERGEN, a major collaborative hub focused on next generation energy networks.
CourseEnvironment and Sustainability PhD
Why did you decide to do a PhD at Surrey?
I was working in the energy finance sector in West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria) and saw the problems with our unstable power industry. If you want a country to grow, you really need a stable and efficient supply of electricity, which is not the case in West Africa. I therefore decided I wanted to investigate this issue and was sponsored by the government of Ghana to do this in the UK.
When looking at universities offering energy economics, I liked the fact that Surrey had the scope for collaborative research between the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) and the School of Economics, where I had obtained my masters.
What was your PhD all about?
I investigated some of the problems behind the inefficiency of West African electricity distribution networks, firstly modelling and confirming that they are not efficient, and then finding ways that we can solve this from a political economy perspective.
What were the best things about your PhD experience?
I think one of the distinctive things about Surrey is the close connection you have as a PhD student with your supervisor, particularly in CES. Your supervisor is interested in every sphere of your life and always there for you if you have any problems.
I felt at home within CES straight away. There are some small touches which make a big difference, for example every Wednesday staff and researchers get together for tea and cakes which is a great platform for strengthening your connections with your colleagues. You develop a rapport with academics across the Centre – not just with your own supervisor – which provides a useful network for the future.
I also had the privilege of working with other researchers to bid for projects and to execute them, teaching in the School of Economics for two years and becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, sponsored and trained by the University.
What are you doing now and what are your plans for the future?
My long term plan is to go back to West Africa and help to solve the very problems I’ve been investigating. However in the meantime I’m getting more experience through a postdoctoral role at Leeds University within the SUPERGEN hub. This is a very big project, involving lots of universities and industry partners, which is looking at the future of UK energy network systems in the context of ambitious carbon dioxide emissions targets.