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October 2020

Welcome Cohort 2!

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The new cohort has arrived!

We’re really pleased to have recently welcomed our second cohort of PhD students to the CDT. All of these eleven students have exceptionally strong and diverse academic and professional backgrounds, which help to make our centre a vibrant place to learn new skills and techniques and undertake ambitious research. These academic backgrounds include; mathematics, physics, languages, linguistics, statistics, computer science and engineering disciplines. Not to mention varied previous career experience including secondary school teaching, academic research, industrial research, and AI software development. 

The last few weeks have been an exciting time – they’ve been getting to know each other, their fellow students in cohort 1, as well as all the academic staff involved in the CDT. Despite the constraints associated with the pandemic, we were still able to organise a busy and varied induction week to get them settled into life at Sheffield and the CDT while conforming with all the national and university safety guidelines. 

The CDT’s innovative Postgraduate Diploma in Speech and Language Technologies Leadership (which is integrated with the PhD and runs throughout their 4 year programme) has kicked off and they are already actively involved in journal clubs, the collation of SLT-related MOOC resources, and a full-cohort 6-month SLT-related R&D group project! 

What they say; 

One of our new students, Jonathan, says I am excited to be involved in an interesting, collaborative programme. So far, it has been slightly different from my expectations of a standard PhD being a completely solitary endeavour (ironically, despite the social distancing). I am looking forward to learning more from professors and fellow students. The mini-project that we have just embarked upon (creating a virtual “reader’s companion” to assist with remembering events from a novel) looks to be both challenging and stimulating.


Another of our new students, Guanyu, adds “One of the most exciting moments for me in 2020 was receiving the offer of a place on the CDT programme. As a language teacher, I appreciate the opportunity to join the programme and see what SLTs can do regarding second language acquisition and cross-cultural communication. Thanks to the openness of the programme, I can learn from classmates and senior student fellows who come from different backgrounds. I can truly feel the diversity and support in various activities.”

Rhiannon had this to say “The first few weeks have involved lots and lots of reading. My background is physics and statistics, so I’ve never studied SLTs directly, and filling in some of the gaps in my knowledge has taken me in a lot of different directions. The activities we’ve been doing have really helped, such as reading specific papers for the Journal Club, or collating online resources that we can refer to later. It’s also good to have the rest of the cohort – we’ve got a mixed bag of interests, so we should be able to help each other out! The cohort-based group structure is one of the things that drew me to the CDT.”


We really look forward to getting to know cohort 2 better over the coming weeks and months while supporting them through their journey to achieving their PhD with Integrated PGDip.