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University of Southampton Malaysia

Malaysia Campus’ Fishlock successfully defends PhD thesis

Published: 2 December 2016
Sam Fishlock
Sam Fishlock is the first PhD student from the Malaysia Campus to graduate.

Following the successful graduation of its first cohort of graduates last summer, the University of Southampton Malaysia Campus has just produced its first PhD graduate – Dr Sam Fishlock presented and successfully defended his thesis entitled ‘’Development of nanocrystalline graphite for MEMS and membranes.’’

Sam Fishlock, a PhD student, successfully defended his PhD thesis titled, ‘’Development of nanocrystalline graphite for MEMS and membranes,’’ making him the first PhD student from the Malaysia Campus to graduate. He is under the primary guidance of Assistant Prof. Dr Suan Hui Pu and CEO Prof. John McBride at University of Southampton Malaysia Campus.

‘’We are very proud of Sam and all of the PhD and undergraduate students here at our Malaysia Campus,’’ said Dr Pu who is actively involved in both undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research supervision. ‘’Sam put in a huge amount of sacrifice and effort in his studies and it was a great experience guiding him along the way.’’

Fishlock’s PhD thesis explores a new type of carbon material which is nanocrystalline graphite (nanographite) thin films with potential applications in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and gas separation membranes. The results of his work will enable researchers to design MEMS using nanographite, thereby opening up new possibilities for various types of applications in the future.

Asked why he has chosen this topic as his research, ‘’Nanographite is interesting because it can be made very thin – just a nanometre or two – and it can be used at very high temperatures. I measured some of the fundamental properties of the material such as its Young’s modulus and its gas permeability, and made a micro-resonator sensor, which uses vibration to measure changes in stiffness, in response to some change in environmental parameters.’’

Fishlock answered all the questions thoroughly during the viva voce examination. The examiners praised his research work for its novelty and recommended the degree of PhD be awarded to him.

‘’I have been fortunate to have had four excellent supervisors during my PhD, including Dr Harold Chong of the UK Campus and Dr Sean O’Shea of A*STAR IMRE, Singapore. Dr Pu has been my primary supervisor, and he has been a really solid presence over the countless meetings we’ve had. He has good ideas, and has helped me keep progressing in the project. I always felt like I had gained some insight every time we talk about the project so that has been invaluable. Prof. McBride has been a guiding figure, and helped to keep me on track with the bigger picture of where my research fits in,’’ he said.

Fishlock spent his first year at the Malaysia Campus, his second year at the Highfield Campus in the UK, and his third and fourth years at A*STAR IMRE in Singapore. While at A*STAR, he remained an active part of the Malaysia Campus by helping out with the undergraduate labs and by doing sample preparations for his own research.

The road to PhD is frustrating and exhausting at times, Fishlock reflects his own experiences and gives his advice for surviving PhD, ‘’When I was going through a tough part in my PhD, with little progress, Dr Chong told me ‘it isn’t supposed to be easy. Otherwise, everyone would be called Dr.’ when it’s hard going, just push on and find a way not to get too anxious about it. Talking through my problems with friends and other PhD students often helped me.’’

Fishlock plans to be based in Singapore and to continue studying in the same broad area of materials and MEMS.


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