My experience as an Undergraduate Physics Student at UCLan

I am Christine Stokes, and I graduated from UCLan with July 2011 with an MPhys in Physics. During my time at UCLan I learned a lot through the lectures provided but probably more so from the many opportunities I was provided whilst a part of the computational physics group.

The lectures provided me with a fundamental understanding of many topics in Physics, such as electricity and magnetism, quantum and statistical mechanics and derivation of theoretical equations. As the classes were small, the class dynamic was more group discussions which for me personally was a good way to learn. The lectures were always helpful whenever any area was of difficult to understand and were always happy to arrange to see me outside of class to go over things again.

As mentioned above a lot more of experience came from joining the computational physics group. I was awarded an internship within the group in the summer following my second year of study. During this time I got to work on a really research project which the work done was subsequently published in Soft matter journal and I am a coauthor. In addition to being awarded the initial internship, I was awarded two more internships in the following two years and I also worked within the group alongside my lectures during the academic period.

Further to working on research within UCLan, I was also given the opportunity to do a research project at Leiden University after being awarded funding through the travel bursary scheme. The project gave me the experience of working both in another institution and at international University. Moreover, I was also given the opportunity to present my research at many conferences. Some of the conferences I was involved in are UCLan’s Annual research conference, URIS poster presentations, The 24th and 25th National Conference on Undergraduate Research (which were held at Montana University, Montana, USA and Ithaca College, New York State, USA respectively) and the 1st British Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Following my experience of research at UCLan and having seen the benefits to learning through research I started up UCLan’s Undergraduate Research Society along with other students who had a keen interest in research. I was the chair of this society for its first year and as part of that I increased the membership and helped in the organisation of the 1st British Conference on Undergraduate Research.

I have now left UCLan and have recently started my PhD project at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Dr Sven Schroeder. I was awarded a place on the NoWNANO Doctoral Training Centre which involved a six month taught period followed by a three and a half year PhD project. The objective of my project is to develop an iterative interface for Near Edge X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure spectroscopy to allow quantitative structural information around an absorbing atom during cluster formation to be determined.


Photo of me presenting my poster at the NoWNANO DTC conference held at Cranage Hall, Cheshire from the 11th to the 14th of June 2012. The poster title was “Towards the determination of cluster structures through iterative analysis of experimental NEXAFS”.

Although I have now left UCLan, I will always remember my experience there. I try to visit often to keep contact with the people who I feel I lead me to where I am today. My experience at UCLan can be experienced by many other people if they get involved and show interest. In my future, I would like to get into acedemia were I will be able to both be involved in research but also have the opportunity to provide other people with the experience and support I was provided.