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It is also an informal space where the realities of PhD student life can be shared, such as coding troubles and the highs and lows of writing papers. It links PhD students from different institutions working on similar themes, and is a useful way of keeping in touch with academics you have met and their latest research output. It is also a great way to find the information you need quickly using a network of people who have faced the same problems as you, or know where to find the journal article you are after.
Rebecca Couchman-Crook is a PhD student funded through the BGS University Funding Initiative (BUFI) and is supervised by Prof Geoff Wadge (Reading) and Dr Julia Crummy (BGS). The aim of BUFI is to encourage and fund science at the PhD level. At present there are around 130 PhD students who are based at about 35 UK universities and research institutes. BUFI do not fund applications from individuals.