Charity Aids PhD Pathway


The ability to study at post-graduate level provides you with more than an additional qualification. It can deliver amazing opportunities and provides access to a number of pathways towards a chosen career. Just ask Sam Gandy, who took out an interest-free education loan totalling £5,000 in order to study in London.

The 32-year-old from Market Harborough has since gone a step further as he approaches the end of his PhD; however, as he explained, it’s the journey he’s taken – quite literally – that has changed his life to this point.

“My loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity allowed me to complete an MRes in Entomology at Imperial College London,” said Sam.

Entomology, for the uninitiated, is a branch of zoology concerned with the study of insects.

“For part of my degree, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of being able to conduct research on termites out in central Vietnam. This in time led to a PhD, which I am currently nearing the end of, based at The James Hutton Institute and The University of Aberdeen.”

Sam’s studies have since taken him to Africa, where he is currently looking into termites and soil rehabilitation. It’s an opportunity that he insists wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the assistance provided by The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.

“I rate this Masters degree as one of my better and more important life decisions,” he said. “Without the financial support provided by The Sir Thomas White Charity loan, this would simply have not been possible for me. So for this I shall always be grateful.

“My research out in Ethiopia is part of the ESPA-ALTER project, which aims to demonstrate how improved knowledge on soil degradation can be used to address rural poverty issues,” he added. “Soil degradation is a major global issue, but an acute problem in my field site in southern Ethiopia. Ethiopia faces multiple issues when it comes to soil degradation, including poor land management, over grazing, unpredictable climate and a rapidly growing human population. Rehabilitating degraded soil is obviously of paramount importance for Ethiopia’s future.

“Termites are major ecosystem engineers, having a number of effects on the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils,” Sam continued. “They are also infamous pests, responsible for major damage to crops, forestry and constructions in much of the tropics and subtropics. Their beneficial effects on soil and on ecosystem functioning however far surpass their detrimental impacts.”

If you’re keen on continuing your studies at post-graduate level, and feel that you could benefit from an interest-free education loan of up to £10,000 – please CLICK HERE for information.