UCL Astrophysics Group


Alumni Career Profile - Jon Holdship

Jon completed his PhD in star formation with Prof. Serena Viti, and won an award for prompt submission.

Jon Holdship
What was your PhD experience like at UCL?
Genuinely fantastic! I came in with a great cohort both within Astro group and the wider physics department which made day to day student life a great experience. At the same time, UCL's research environment and my supervisor made for a brilliant start to a research career.
Please describe (what was) your research area.
My PhD focused on developing an astrochemical model and using it to interpret observations of shocks in protostellar environments
Describe the Astrophysics group in three words?
Welcoming, broad, excellent
Where are you working now? What attracted you to the job?
I currently have a split career. I'm a PDRA at Universiteit Leiden, working on using machine learning to advance our chemical modelling efforts. However, one day per week, I work at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital as a data scientist
How has your Astrophysics PhD helped you in your line of work?
The PDRA work is a natural progression from my PhD. However, the data science really comes from a variety of secondary skills I picked up during my PhD such as coding and explaining my work to non-experts. That and a few machine learning courses I was able to take at UCL.
What do you aim to be doing in 5 years' time?
I'm applying for research fellowships in both astronomy and healthcare. I've made my first round of fellowship applications this year as well as recently making a successful grant application to study sepsis in paediatric patients. Hopefully, a successful application will turn into a permanent research position at some point in the next five years!
Any advice for budding scientists?
Try not to become laser focused on your PhD project. A PhD studentship is actually a fantastic opportunity to take some time to be productively side-tracked. A PhD at UCL offers outreach and teaching opportunities like ORBYTS, semi-relevant summer schools, and enough independence to pursue interests that occur to you. You never know what will ultimately help your research or turn out to be your favourite part of your PhD so get away from your project for a bit.