Student Profiles & Alumni

Students

Aliyu

Hello I’m Aliyu

I developed an interest in neutron physics after my MSc thesis, titled “Development of a Neutron Source for the European Spallation Source” at the University of Glasgow. My MSc project supervisor David Hamilton at the University Glasgow suggested his nuclear research group or the nuclear research group at the University of York. 

I became more interested in neutron physics after I had an interview with my Ph.D. supervisor David Jenkins and some of his colleagues on phone for quite long while I was still in Nigeria. Since my arrival at the University of York in 2017, I have had a very conducive research and learning environment. I’m so far very happy with my relation to the staff of nuclear group of this university as well as the fellow research students.

"Since my arrival at the University of York in 2017, I have had a very conducive research and learning environment."

My research topic is Development of a new Generation Neutron Detector for Oil and Gas exploration. After successful completion of this research, I’m very confident it will contribute immensely towards logging related application and many other physics experiment.  

Nicola

Hi, my name is Nicola and I’m studying for a joint physics and maths PhD here at York. I am part of the expanding Biophysics group in the Physics department specialising in imaging the flow due to bacterial swimming. My PhD evolved from the MPhys project I worked on in York and I was given a lot of freedom as to the direction of the project. The interdisciplinary element of my project has been greatly advantaged by simply being in York because there are great collaboratory links between the departments. We have a dedicated BPSI (Biological Physical Sciences Institute) network of members from all across the university who meet twice a year to discuss projects.

Studying for a PhD is a great way to follow your curiosity and to feel the excitement of discovering something new but it is also a great way to travel and hone your transferable skills. Since I started my PhD I’ve presented at 3 national and 2 international conferences which has helped me improve my public speaking and networking skills. I have worked with an academic and industrial collaborators which have given me connections for the future.

"Studying for a PhD is a great way to follow your curiosity and to feel the excitement of discovering something new but it is also a great way to travel and hone your transferable skills."

I have loved my PhD experience so I would highly recommend it as an option. If you think it could be for you, my advice would be to find a project that you are really passionate about but remember that the people you work with can really influence your postgraduate experience. Once you’ve decided what area you want to study, meet supervisors and other PhD students to help you decide where you want to study.    

Siobhan

‌‌‌Hi, I’m Siobhan.

I did my physics undergraduate at the University of York, starting out with the foundation year. My passion for physics grew throughout the degree; summer internships with the physics department at York and at CERN inspired me to go into research and verified my decision to do a PhD. I completed my masters project in low temperature plasmas but I knew I wanted to be part of fusion research, motivated by a field that could change the future with a carbon-free source of energy.

I am currently doing my PhD with the Fusion CDT in magnetic confinement fusion, doing simulations of instabilities called edge localised modes, which occur in tokamak plasmas. I have access to international supercomputing facilities to carry out my work. I chose to do my PhD at York because the Fusion CDT offers a fantastic programme to people coming from various areas of physics, as it starts with 6 months of relevant modules at York Plasma Institute.

I am now based at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) the UK's national fusion research laboratory and home of the tokamaks JET and MAST. During my second year I had the opportunity to collaborate with Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratories, with funding provided by the CDT, and I spent 5 weeks in the USA. I have the opportunity to travel to South Korea for a week where a collaboration with the tokamak facility - KSTAR could develop.

I knew I wanted to be part of fusion research, motivated by a field that could change the future with a carbon-free source of energy.

I’ve had many opportunities to attend conferences, workshops and summer schools, some of them are international, which is great for exposing your work to others in the same research area. In the past I’ve attended the IoP conference in Oxford, a workshop in Prague for the code I’m working on, a HPC workshop in Edinburgh and the CCFE Plasma Physics Summer School, which were great opportunities for networking. Over the coming months I am hoping to attend conferences in Prague, Belfast and South Korea with more opportunities in the following couple of years; all of which are really good experiences that will help my PhD to progress.

Alumni

Matthew D

York is an amazing city to study in, with plenty of historical attractions, restaurants and great pubs (especially the House of Trembling Madness in the Shambles). This warm atmosphere extends to the Plasma Institute, where the people are extremely helpful and welcoming. From the day I started studying for the MSc I immediately felt accepted into the community of students and staff working there. I thoroughly enjoyed studying the wide range of courses available; the core modules included interesting lectures on inertial and magnetic fusion and plasma physics, with the option to study more broad topics such as astrophysical plasmas and low temperature plasmas.

"From the day I started studying for the MSc I immediately felt accepted into the community of students and staff working there."

There were also opportunities to develop computer programming and data analysis skills as part of the labs. After completing the masters, I was accepted onto a PhD program at the University of Strathclyde. My project involves a mix of both experimental and simulation work, and my time at York was excellent preparation for both aspects. I had a great year at York and would highly recommend the MSc to anyone with an interest in fusion, or who just wants to learn some interesting new physics in a supportive and friendly environment.

Matthew K

I completed the MSc in Fusion energy here at York in September 2017 and am now working towards my PhD under the supervision of Professor Nigel Woolsey. The focus of my work will be on shock ignition; an advanced drive variant of inertial fusion experiments, with the title “Plasma kinetics, pre-heat, and the emergence of strong shocks in laser fusion”. As part of my project I have been attending conferences and placements all over the country as well as taking part in experiments at national facilities. Involved with any experiment is prior simulation and analysis of the results collected. Shock ignition is an exciting field as it is in the early proof-of-concept phase so all the research that is conducted is by its nature cutting edge.

"The course pushed me to progress my abilities as a physicist and researcher while providing the support necessary to do so."

The MSc was invaluable in providing the foundational knowledge and experience that is needed for a PhD project. The course offered a specialisation into fusion that others masters didn’t. It managed to achieve this without losing any of the breadth of the field as a whole. It pushed me to progress my abilities as a physicist and researcher while providing the support necessary to do so. Being able to start my PhD with a firm grasp of not only the subject matter but also understanding of the process has made the transition so much easier and meant that I can start producing relevant work quicker.

Laura

Hi, I'm Laura.

In my first year I went to Germany (GSI) for a week for a data analysis workshop, spent three weeks at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) for an experiment and was given the opportunity to work in Japan (near Tokyo) for six months for an IPA (International Program Associate). The work in Japan was very varied, from helping to set up experiments, writing reports, assembling equipment and monitoring experiments. During a three day holiday I also managed to climb Mount Fuji and visit Kyoto!

During my A-Levels I gained a strong interest in Nuclear physics. During my undergraduate degree this interest grew further, as I learnt more about the area. In my third year I had the privilege to work with Drs. Alison Laird and Christian Diget, for a few weeks in the summer, to learn more about Nuclear physics at the University and the work it entails. I learnt from various students and staff that the group works abroad a lot for their research and conferences. On my first day I had a meeting with my supervisor, Prof. Bob Wadsworth, who mentioned potential experiments abroad, and the possibility of a Long Term Attachment (LTA) in a foreign laboratory.

"My overseas travel and exposure to other labs / ways of working has put me in good standing for my final year."

During my second year I spent two weeks in Japan, one for a conference and one for data analysis. I did a LTA in Finland for five months working on a vacuum mode separator, as well as working on experiments with two groups at the laboratory. Both these opportunities allowed me to work and meet people from different institutes from North America, Europe and Asia. I am now back in York and am coming to the end of my second year.  My overseas travel and exposure to other labs / ways of working has put me in good standing for my final year.

In this photo you can see me presenting my latest poster overseas.

Christian

Hello, my name is Christian.

Former PhD student Christian Schuster (now a PostDoc in the Department) has likened research study to detective work where one discovers new things. 

His research interests lie in the area of photovoltaics, i.e. the conversion of light into electricity and his PhD project focused on the control of light via surface nanostructures.

His final goal in the project was to trap as much light as possible in a thin absorbing slab, as today's solar cells are mostly made of thick layers. However, while reducing the thickness meant less material and lower costs, any increase in optical losses had to be compensated by novel and smart optical design - a challenge that he expects will boost the next generation of solar cells.

"Research study is like detective work where one discovers new things."

Christian not only recently passed his viva voce exam, started as a post doc, but also got married!

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