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Keissy Guerra Perez is a PhD student in the School. 

Here she tells us what it's like to study for a PhD…

Keissy Perez - PhD Student

Where did you do your undergraduate degree and what did you study?

I studied Technical Superior Engineering in Telecommunication at University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Spain. 

Why did you decide to a PhD and why did you choose Queen's?

I studied at Queen's University as part of my Masters project through an Erasmus grant. The decision about where to undertake my Erasmus placement was motivated by two things; my interest in in electronics research and my Master's supervisor advised me that Queen's University is one of the most popular universities for electronics and telecommunications

Once I finished my Master's project, my supervisor suggested continuing on to a PhD. I decided to do this after weighing up the pros and cons and also by the fact that I enjoyed my Master's project.

What is your research about?

I am in the Network Security cluster and my research is entitled “Smart memory architecture for high performance network processing”. My research is about the use of efficient algorithms to improve TCAM performances. This mainly involves looking at Network System applications requirements and the effective use of TCAMs.

What are the best and worst things about doing a PhD?

In my view I find the PhD challenging as it involves coming up with original ideas. You will also have the opportunity to grow professionally and personally, as you get the opportunity to attend conferences and network with other people working in your area. You are still a student too which has its advantages.
Obviously you have to work very hard during your PhD and can feel under pressure and frustrated at times, when you are trying to meet deadlines. That can be a good motivator, though.

What would your typical day as a PhD student involve?

My work day starts at 9:30 am when I make out my to-do list for the day and have a cup of coffee. At lunch time, a group of PhD students meet to have a lunch – It can be quite difficult to come back to work afterwards at times. I usually meet with my supervisors every Friday to evaluate my work for the week. When I finish my day around 5pm I have still free time to enjoy sport etc. Although it sounds like an uneventful day, every now and then we have different events, such as seminars, company meetings, posters to do or social events to attend such as  dinners or BBQs. Sometimes you feel that you need more quiet days to get the work done. 

What about Queen's and Belfast in general – what is it like to study here?

Queen's University Belfast is considered to be a prestigious university. As an international student, I believe Queen's offers good opportunities for international students to study here and there are lots of events to encourage students to mix.  
In recent years, there are a lot more overseas people coming to live in Belfast. There is a lot of nice scenery here and it the cost of living is much lower here compared to the rest of UK or Ireland. 

Would you recommend doing a PhD?  If so, why?

Personally I believe a PhD program is a route into a career in research and I would recommend it to students who enjoy research and may consider a career in that area.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I enjoy working in the The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) in Queen's and I would like to work there as a research assistant or hardware engineer. 

Is there anything else you would like to add – hobbies etc!

One of my favourite hobbies is playing sport, in particular volleyball. I have been playing volleyball at Queen's for the past three years and have competed in various tournaments. 
This year I have also been involved in the Research Society in the School as well. The organising group is made up of PhD students and staff and we have organised a range of events, ranging from guest lectures to social events such as Ceili dancing.