Dr Murhaf Korani – discusses his experience of undertaking a PhD in Public Health Research at Swansea University


Country: Saudi Arabia

Course: PhD Public Health

Dr Murhaf Korani, Assistant Professor and Vice Dean for Hospital Affairs at Umm Al-Qura University in Saudi Arabia, discusses his experience of undertaking PhD research at Swansea University, and how the support and guidance he received has helped him to build his academic career.

My PhD research explored how obesity differs between ethnic groups. In the UK, researchers have considered how social, economic and cultural differences may affect variation in the levels of childhood obesity between different ethnic groups, alongside other factors such as differences between genetics, nutrient intake and activity level.

When I was searching for a PhD opportunity, I was looking for a supervisor who had expertise in my research interest of childhood obesity. I found Professor Amy Brown, based in the College of Human and Health Sciences in Swansea University. I was lucky to choose Swansea – it was a quiet, safe city with a lovely coastline, and I was based on the beautiful Singleton Campus. I had no regrets!

The University is located just a few steps away from the beach, and the city is surrounded by hills, so you can quickly get out in nature and enjoy a beautiful atmosphere. The people are so friendly in Swansea compared to other cities I visited in the UK.

The University had everything I needed to do my research – a wonderful building and lovely staff – and I liked it from the very first day.

You are given the opportunity to meet a lot of researchers from across the University, which helps you build a network.

Staff in the College of Human and Health Sciences, and my supervisor, were so supportive and encouraging. I was struggling to finish in time due to an issue in data collection, so I asked the PGR Manager, Maria Davis, what I could do – she helped me to build a case for a 1 month extension, and even supported me to discuss this with my supervisor.

Every year in my College we had a PGR Conference where postgraduate researchers could present on different topics alongside distinguished Professors and Lecturers, which helped me get vital experience of presenting and explaining my work. Make sure you participate if you get the chance!

I came to the UK to have a different experience and to learn, and I have now brought these skills home to Saudi Arabia. My role is Assistant Professor and Vice Dean of Hospital Affairs in the Faculty of Health Sciences in Umm Al-Qura University. I am continuing my research into obesity, building on my PhD, alongside connected interests in diabetes, hypertension and social behaviour.

My advice for postgraduate researchers is to strive for knowledge, read as much as you can and don’t be shy! We are all learning, so speak to your fellow postgraduate researchers and supervisors if you are struggling.

In the future, I would love one day to return to Swansea University to undertake a postdoctoral role. Every year I try to come to Swansea on holiday too!


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