Welcome to the hotly demanded spin-off of The PhD Playlist – The PI Playlist! The format is similar, with the spotlight being put on a group leader here at the Norwich Research Park to pick three songs: one song for their current research/job, one song for their life as a PhD student and that final much needed motivational song. So turn the volume up and discover the soundtrack to a science career.


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I only spoke German until I went to nursery in Yorkshire where I learned English. I went to school in Wales at a time when my older brother exposed me to a huge range of music via the Old Grey Whistle Test and John Peel. As a sixth former and student in London and Warwick, I played in several bands including Gods Lonely Men, the Fat Ballerinas and Clenched Fish, which did not make me rich. While in London, and in Reading when working in industry, I went to an extraordinary number and range of gigs and lost my Welsh accent. As a post-doc, I had no more time for playing in bands, but continued to write and record music. As a project leader, I didn’t have time for that either, but I put my tracks on Soundcloud. None of these tracks have made me rich. These days, I have limited time to even listen to music, let alone go to gigs or play instruments. The silence is nevertheless broken by my daughters.

The PhD Song – Egg by Mr Bungle

My PhD (1989-1992) had its ups and downs. The ups and downs of this track from 1990 sum it up. I published 6 papers from my PhD with 4 first-author, which might not have happened because I seriously considered quitting after a few months. I had a lot of autonomy throughout, which taught me a lot, but I had to wait three months on one occasion to have a meeting with my supervisor because he was so busy. I had to change my research project half way through but still managed to submit within three years, which was the default length of a PhD in those days. My supervisor wrote “good” in red ink next to a figure in my draft thesis. This was the highlight of the feedback I received in my time there. After my viva, the examiners left the room to inform my supervisor of the outcome without considering to tell me. I had to sit down to avoid fainting, and when my blood pressure recovered I summoned the courage to find them. It turned out be just a few typos that needed correcting. Phew! Shortly after, and on the day I had to return to my new job in another part of the country, my supervisor took his group out to lunch for my leaving do. A lovely thought, except they neglected to tell me which pub they were going to. This was in the days before mobile telephones. Great! I then made the mistake of leaving the 10 or so corrected pages of my thesis outside his locked office door with a note to swap them over in his copy. This was unwise. He wrote a damning letter to me for being so rude and not presenting him with a bound final version of my thesis. Many years later at his retirement celebration when I thought all was forgiven and forgotten, I thanked him for taking me on as a PhD student. He said it wasn’t him that wanted to recruit me, but one of his colleagues in the funding consortium. At least my PhD put the chemistry in my biochemistry.”

The Current Research Song – Love the Life (Live) by Midnite

“The aim of my current project is to ensure that the postgraduate students at JIC have a much better experience than I did. The life one lives and the life one loves change with time. The studio version of this track is not currently available on Spotify, so here is the live version.”

The Motivational Song – The Life Devine by Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin

There are occasions when music invokes goosebumps. This is the track that does it regardless of the mood I’m in, bringing energy and focus.”


The PhD and The PI playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

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