First-Gen Spotlight: Derianna Thomas

Derianna Thomas (she/her/hers) is finishing her first year as a PhD student at Northumbria University. Her research interests are centered on Wearable Augmented Reality, Casual AR. If you would like to connect with Derianna, follow her on Twitter @DeriannaThomas!

  1. Where do you call home? Newcastle Upon Tyne, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
  2. What is a quote that you live by? Look after yourself, there is only one you!
  3. What do you see yourself doing in the future? Assisting students in their higher education journey, although not sure on what form that will take yet!
  4. If you could switch fields/careers, what field/career would you want to work in/have?* Data Science
  5. What frustrates you the most about academia? The lack of training – a PhD is very different to a Bachelors and Masters, and students aren’t really told in advance about the experience. There’s no introduction to your area at that level, it’s very much a “thrown in the deep end” and figure it out kind of thing. Staff are very supportive but there’s only so much they can do without necessary resources.
  6. What are three things you can’t live without?* Noise cancelling headphones, Irish Dancing, and a healthy work-life balance
  7. What message do you hope your research conveys to the public? Augmented reality goes beyond face filters and having Pokémon in your living room, it can help you with everyday tasks, and doesn’t have to be limited to visual items. AR shouldn’t be limited to sight-seeing individuals, it should be accessible to everyone.
  8. Who do you do this for? Myself. The work is hard but I was told growing up that I’d never be able to go to uni, and now I have the chance to complete a PhD. This is an opportunity I never thought I’d have and I’m sometimes still surprised I’m here.
  9. What is your proudest moment (so far)?* Passing my project approval – it was a big step up and opened my eyes to the standard required at PhD. It was the moment I became a proper PhD student.
  10. What is one piece of advice you would give to other first-gen students? Ask staff and senior students any questions that you think of – nothing is too silly and people will tend to offer advice on things you haven’t thought of yet. Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength!

*borrowed from the 46 Questions blog!

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