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PhD student in Instrument Science
What education and qualifications do you have?
2:1 MSci Physics (University of Durham)
A-levels: Maths, Physics, Technology, French
Give an outline of your career so far
I have always been interested in physics and engineering and when it came to choosing which to study at degree level I found the choice quite difficult. In the end I opted for physics as it felt like the more exciting option. I enjoyed studying physics at Durham, but I realised that I wasn't necessarily interested in a career in pure science. I particularly enjoyed the more experimental work, especially where I could see that it involved the possibility of developing new technologies. My MSci project was with the Centre For Advanced Instrumentation, a large research group in the Durham Physics Department who have developed lots of astronomical instrumentation hardware, particularly adaptive optics and spectrographs for various international projects. I was working on a very early prototype for an entirely new form of adaptive optics system. It was mostly intensive lab work in a darkened room, with a little bit of computer simulation, but I found the design concept fascinating and the thought that I was working on developing a system design that the world had never seen before very compelling!
Why did you choose this career path?
My undergraduate MSci project experience convinced me that there was a future for me somewhere between engineering and physics, and after a bit of research I came across EngDs (engineering doctorate) and CASE PhDs, which are both equivalent to a regular PhD, but are industry linked, so some of the work is done with a sponsoring company. I had also been looking at where I could pursue a career in astronomical instrumentation, and the prospect of space based rather than ground based instrumentation was very alluring. I found out about the CASE PhD in space instrumentation at MSSL, which was exactly what I was looking for, and to top that the location, surroundings and heritage of the lab are amazing!
What does your current work involve?
I am working on designing, simulating and hopefully making a MEMS (Micro electro mechanical systems) based plasma spectrometer. This will be a tiny little gadget that would be fitted to a satellite or probe, to make measurements of charged particles in space such as the solar wind particles that we see on Earth as aurorae. I will be spending some time working with Astrium who design and make satellites and space probes and who are the industrial partner in my CASE studentship. This will be useful in helping me decide whether I would prefer a career in academia or industry when I have finished my PhD.
Hobbies and interests outside work
I am very involved with scouting, being an Assistant Scout Leader at Cranleigh Scout Troop and a member of the local scout Network. I also enjoy travelling and tinkering with computers.
Page last modified on 12 sep 11 15:41