I joined the IOP during my foundation year at Swansea, having not planned to study Physics at University until very late on, I felt it was important to try and become a part of the Physics community. Since I didn’t have an A-level in maths I felt I was outside the usual route to Physics and wanted to meet more people from not so conventional backgrounds. The challenge of physics attracted me; I found it the most difficult of my science/maths studies so it made me work much harder. My specialism is moving towards antimatter physics and atom trapping.
I started at Swansea University in 2013, and transferred to an MPhys in 2017. I’ve held a few roles at the university to encourage student engagement in science. Highlights have included becoming President of the Physics Society; this role entailed creating new events, both academic and social for physics students to get involved in. It was really rewarding to be part of building a community within the department that encourages people to get to know each other and work together. The best part of the role was seeing students get together and enjoy themselves with people they were unlikely to have never met otherwise.
Working with the Swansea Employability Academy (SEA) and Swansea Physics department, I helped to bring a Physics based careers event to Swansea students and secured a continued working relationship to support Physics students. This was supported by alumni from various sectors - we had people from defence companies, patent attorneys, teachers, academia, and technology companies. This led to an internship with SEA: I had discussions with employability academy staff, I told them I was looking for an opportunity over the summer that was outside of my normal study area and they let me know what I could apply for. My advice is to ask for help when looking into internship opportunities and don’t be afraid to try something very different.
In 2017 I was awarded the Ede and Ravenscroft prize for enhancing the student experience and won the IOP University Students’ Network society of the year with Swansea PhySoc. I also had a four month placement with L’Oreal UK Business development team in London; this was thanks to my top 10 position in the Target Jobs Male Undergraduate of the year competition. The role required data analysis and preparing presentations for companies that stocked L’Oreal products.
IOP helped me to develop the first all Welsh Physics students’ conference. The aim of the conference was to highlight the range of industry and research across Wales, while creating a student community.
In 2018, I became a full member of the IOP Wales committee and my experience working on the committee has been really interesting. To see the wide variation in needs across Wales has been eye opening. There is a wide range of talent and areas of interest in Welsh Physics but the communities are fairly isolated with very few opportunities. Also being able to represent my home town of Swansea at discussions and help highlight some amazing new events, such as the Swansea Science festival, has been very rewarding.
The best thing about the IOP is the chance to be a part of a community of brilliant people with a wealth of knowledge and experience is something that everyone should make the most of. In April of this year the IOP helped me to develop the first all Welsh Physics students’ conference. The aim of the conference was to highlight the range of industry and research across Wales while creating a student community.
During my final semester I spent three months working at CERN for my master’s dissertation as a part of the ALPHA experiment. I was looking into the transport of positrons in their new beamline extension and found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. This is an opportunity offered to Swansea MPhys students every year but CERN has a summer student program that anyone from a member state can apply for while in University.
My next step will hopefully be returning to the ALPHA team and starting postgraduate studies with a Canadian University. As for a longer term goal I intend to keep my options open and keep following interesting and exciting opportunities in whatever form they may come.