Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at the Norwich Research Park and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational song because – let’s face it – we all need it.

tobybuttressToby is a 3rd year PhD student in Xiaoqi Feng’s lab. His project looks at how chromatin reconfigures in male germline development; basically, how do plants set up their sperm for the next generation. Toby is a big football fan, keen into cycling (weather permitting) and loves exploring the outdoors both at home and abroad.

Twitter: @Toby_Buttress

The Project SongThe Man’s Machine by Jamie T

This is pretty on the nose about my project. Our lab studies all things male reproduction in plants. As you might imagine, a normal conversation in our lab is laden with unintentional puns about sperm. Which can be very fun but goodness knows what passers-by must think! On a side note, I love Jamie T and would make music like this if I had any musical sense whatsoever (I am trying to learn guitar, so be warned).

The PhD Life SongStairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

I had to go with prog rock here, and what a song! My PhD started off pretty slowly, it took a while to optimise experiments and figure out what initial findings to follow up (ie the first 5:54 of this song). So just like prog rock, I’ve had to stick with it and now things are falling into place and getting quite exciting. Hopefully I can ride this wave to the end! Although, as with all prog rock, there’s still a long way to go…

The Motivational SongPraise You by Fatboy Slim

This was a tough one, but my go-to song whenever I want a pick me up is this. The music, the lyrics and even the video (I could dance like those guys) are all just brilliant and most importantly, crazy positive.


The PhD 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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