Category Archives: PhD

10 Achievements in 2015

2015 was a year of big change in my life. Here are 10 moments in 2015 that I think sum up the year pretty well.

April: Played in my first Roller Derby game ever


May: Completed Tough Mudder, an 11km assault course

Tough MUdder

May: Presented my PhD research at Eurographics in Switzerland


May: Garden Society got a new committee and won over £1,500 to spend on beekeeping equipment (amongst other things)

Garden Soc

May: Quitting my PhD. Long story, but in short I wasn’t happy with the direction the research was going in and I wanted to work on something that had more real-world prospects.


Jul – Starting my new job as an Integration Test Engineer at Sky UK, working on the new Sky Q product


Jul – Watching Hamilton win the British GP at Silverstone with my Nephew


Aug – Taking the boat to Bristol. It was a very long way to go, and it took most of the summer in weekends, but it was 100% worth it!


Aug – Moving in with Emily to a (very) little place we can call our own (for the next 12 months)


Nov – Winning prize at CVMP. Very unexpected, but still very cool!


Who knows what 2016 will bring!

Rough Shudder

I won 3 mini bottles of wine for reciting pi to 52 decimal places. Geekiest thing I've ever done?
I won 3 mini bottles of wine for reciting pi to 52 decimal places. Geekiest thing I’ve ever done?

The last month has been an interesting one. Certainly a lot has happened over Easter that has got me thinking about my long-term career prospects and even short-term goals.

To start with, the University has started an ‘Operational Review’ seemingly in an attempt to stifle research efforts and reduce the student experience all in the name of short-term cost-savings. My two cents is that the university should be investing in better marketing to entice new undergraduate students to Surrey instead of the other top universities with with we now compete due to increased entry requirements. But what do I know, every time students are ‘spoken down to’ regarding the changes, dumbing down information with meaningless metaphors and simply saying ‘don’t worry your little heads about it, let the adults work it out’. Frankly, it’s pathetic.

The food at vegfest this year was really good. I'm still not convinced about the whole "meat-free meat" thing though.
The food at vegfest this year was really good. I’m still not convinced about the whole “meat-free meat” thing though.

Moving on to something more exciting and positive, Emily and I went on a boating weekend in March. Just the two of us in the fresh midlands countryside gave us time to relax and get away from all the stress of operational reviews, thesis reports and conference deadlines. Life in the slow lane for 48 hours. It was bliss. To say I’m looking forward to this summer’s marathon boat trip to Bristol would be an understatement.

Back to PhD life again, and it was time for my thesis review at the end of March. This is a new report you have to write for your 2-year milestone. It caused much argument and debate between my supervisor and I for a good many weeks, resulting in a stale-mate where neither of us are happy with the outcome. I’m still unsure about what to do about this, but thankfully the head of department has been very helpful in moving things along, albeit with me still carrying more than a teaspoon full of scepticism. Alas.

carrying these back from the Boat Race on packed public transport was totally worth it.
Carrying these back from the Boat Race on packed public transport was totally worth it.

I’ve been taking more of an interest in my personal fitness again. Stuart and I are still going climbing on a weekly basis and hoping to transcend to new heights by taking our skills outdoors very soon. I’ve been keenly going to weekly Roller Derby sessions, and went to cheer on the girls team in a game in Coventry a few weeks back.

By far my biggest achievement recently has been playing in my first Roller Derby game! It was a men’s rookie game made up of guys from various teams around the country. Playing with people I’d never met before in front of a crowd (containing my parents!) could be described as being “thown in at the deep end”, but Emily had made me a sign saying “BRING THE POWER” and I managed to score 14 points for my team! It was a great learning experience and I’m now eagerly awaiting my next chance to play.

If that wasn’t enough fitness news, I’m attempting Tough Mudder on Saturday. I say attempting because it’s a 12-mile military-style obstacle course and I’ve done next to no training. Should be a laugh. I might die.


Ernst Stavro Blofeld

This post is part of 23 Things, a University of Surrey Research Development Programme initiative to allow PhD students to enhance their online persona.

"Double jeopardy, Mr Bond."
“Double jeopardy, Mr Bond.”

Most people like to Google their names every once in a while to see what potential strangers, snoopers and future employers might find on them, but I don’t have that problem thanks to Mr Bond… or more precisely the arch-villain James Bond tries to take down: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Charles Gray.

Regardless of how many research papers I publish, or how many views my YouTube videos get, I’ll always be living in the shadow of the former actor and cat-stroker, despite Blofeld never having a twitter account or LinkedIn profile.

I may never have an IMDb profile with 130 acting credits or a gleaming Wikipedia page, but my has got 653 views in the last year.

I should take all this as a positive, all those embarrassing photos are wonderfully buried under pages and pages of results for the acclaimed actor, no matter how hard my mum tries to share that photo of 10-year-old me in a dress…

23 Things and Social Media

23 things is a new online course run by the Researcher Development Porgramme (RDP) at the University of Surrey. The course is a 10 week course designed to expose researchers to the digital tools available online to increase the visibility and reach of their research and personal brand as well as being a useful resource.

In week one I’ve been asked to write a short piece about my experiences with social media, so I’ve decided to do what I do best and make a list! There is an endless wealth of interesting social media sources for researches, but I’m going to pick out the ones I find most interesting:


I don’t think I’ve quite found my twitter niche yet, but when I do use twitter for research it’s primarily using the hugely popular “#phdchat” hashtag. For Surrey researches it’s also worth noting the “#surreyphdchat” hashtag which is still desperately trying to catch on.


I am slightly obsessed with YouTube channels that give me a new perspective on the world. Anything that makes me think about something in a new way, or learn something new is alright in my book. Here are my favourites:

  • Veritasium – Excellent exploration of the science all around us
  • CrashCourse – Crash courses in a widening range of topics from World History, Chemistry, Astronomy, Psychology and more.
  • Film Riot – For my research based in the broadcast industry, this is a fascinating (and funny) insight into the indie-filmmaker world
  • Google ATAP – Google’s new Computer Vision project looking at augmented reality on smartphones
  • In59seconds – Interesting psychology concepts explained in 1 minute
  • Numberphile – Maths like you’ve never seen it before!
  • SmarterEveryDay – One guy’s quest to learn something new every day
  • The Royal Institution – Talks at the Royal Institute on lots of STEM subjects, well known for the annual Christmas Lectures
  •  Tom Scott – Geeky things you might not know
  • Computerphile – From how a computer works to virtual reality headsets
  • Vihart – Fun with maths
  • Vsauce – Great use of words to make any subject fascinating


I haven’t yet found any groups for research on Facebook, but it’s great for asking people to fill out a survey!


until next week,


I have just received confirmation that a paper for which I am second author has just been accepted into Eurographics 2015. This announcement is hot on the heels of presenting my first research publication at last years International Conference on Image Processing.

In the scale of conferences covering my research area, Eurographics is up there with the best, so I’m very excited to be part of a paper that will be presented there. This year Eurographics is being held in Zurich, Switzerland in May, so I might just be heading over there for a few days to present some of the work!

My poster on "Particle Filtering Approach to Video Object Localisation" at ICIP 2014

Photos from Paris

I am in Paris this week presenting some of my PhD research at the International Conference on Image Processing. Here are a few pictures from the week so far (edit: now updated with more photos).

Off to Paris

Just a short post this week as final preparations are coming together for my trip to Paris next week. As I mentioned a few months ago, some of my work got accepted into the International Conference on Image Processing taking place next week in Paris, and now you can see my name in the program listing:

My paper in the ICIP 2014 technical program. I can tell you’re excited.

I’ll take lots of pictures for you all, and I’m taking my GoPro just in case :P

Speaking of GoPro, here’s the full timelapse for the Garden Soc Polytunnel building…

Can’t promise a post next week, but you never know,

Charles x