UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Nsilo Berry

Nsilo completed his M.S in Material Science and Engineering from Portland State University, before starting his PhD at STEaPP in 2023.

Photo of PhD student, Nsilo Berry
How did you come to realise you wanted to study for a PhD?

It was always a personal achievement of mine to pursue a doctoral degree. I realised that outside of the pride of the journey, the degree also acts as a key to impact the communities I care about the most. 

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at UCL STEaPP?

UCL sits in unique position from an international perspective. It is a hub for research and expertise across the world, and for someone that it interested in global citizenship, this is important to me. Additionally, education can be diverse too, and is something that I lean into. I went to school in the Midwest of the US, both private and public. Then to university on the east coast for my undergraduate degree, then the west coast for my masters. I wanted to do something different, and pursued my degree abroad. 

What is the focus of your PhD?

Brain Drain in West Africa and its impact on the development and retention of technical expertise (working title).

What has been the highlight of your PhD so far?

Living in London is pretty fun. It is similar to Portland, OR from a weather standpoint. But more like a New York City from the hustle and bustle. 

How would you describe the community at STEaPP?

Diverse, knowledgable, and helpful.

What are the facilities like at STEaPP, and the UCL campus generally?

We have our own office, which is great. UCL has lots of spaces to study, eat and interact. The buildings can be confusing to track down, at times; however, the campus is very walkable which I appreciate. 

What are your future plans/aspirations?

So many, really to take the things that I have learned at UCL and parlay this into opportunities where I can travel and be impactful. Otherwise, I play things close to the vest in order to anchor myself in the moment. 

Do you have a mentor/role model who has inspired you?

I wouldn't be here without the sacrifice of others. It's hard to pinpoint one person, but when I look in the mirror, I not only see myself, but a collection of all the people who have invested in me as a person to prepare for the journey of life. 

What advice would you give to future PhD students?

Take your syllabus, and plan out your term. If you are not much of planner, be aware of the projects, assignments, readings. When it comes to your research project. Think about something that you will invest 4+ years into. Meaning find something that you will read, write, and critique ad nauseam about. Make it your own.