You’re getting PhDs off to a flying start

Punsara Navaratna explains how his scholarship has given him an incredible research opportunity that he otherwise wouldn’t have had.

The scholarship I’ve received has made such a difference to me. Without funding it just would not have been possible for me to study for my PhD, especially since I’m an international student. And because my scholarship is funded by alumni and friends, it really makes it that bit more special. For people who have already been to this University to give back and help people like me, is incredible. I’m really grateful and absolutely determined to put their money to good use.

My PhD is in Aerospace Engineering, with a focus on experimental aerodynamics. Specifically, my research involves various types of wind tunnel testing techniques used to study the behaviour of model aircraft or investigate different aerodynamic phenomena. Findings from testing these models can then be applied to the full-scale aircraft. Not only will my PhD help me in my future career, it’s exciting to think that my work could be used to help design a new aircraft and improve safety.

Bristol has a justified reputation for excellence in research and I’m so happy to be doing my PhD here. For my line of work, Bristol’s experimental rig is a unique concept which allows studies to be conducted in a way no other conventional type of rig can allow. This means we can do much more in-depth research into the dynamics and flight mechanics of aircraft. This type of testing is relatively new; for example, Bristol’s rig is capable of simulating free-flight responses and can change the effective weight of the aircraft model without adding or removing mass from it.

I’ve been at Bristol for seven years. I started here studying for my undergraduate degree and now I’m going into the third year of my PhD. Bristol was the only place I wanted to do my PhD, it’s a fantastic university. Not only that, I really like the city – it’s a good place to live and study. Bristol has a good atmosphere and the people are really friendly. I couldn’t have asked for a better place. I’m originally from Sri Lanka, and I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived, but I was really pleased with what I’ve found. The University was very welcoming, and it feels like home here now. I think that sense of community carries on and I hope that one day I too will be an alumnus who’s able to give back.


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