Student Profile

Daniel - Level 4 Physics

I knew that I wanted to come to St Andrews probably since my second year in high school. My brother came here before me and I just fell in love with the place when I used to come visit him. I thankfully got all my qualifications and got my place at St Andrews. When I first came to St Andrew my original degree intention was chemistry. I quickly decided that this was not for me. Luckily due to the Scottish university system I was allowed to easily switch to a full physics degree in my second year as long as I ticked all the right boxes with my module choices in my first year. Now I am about to enter the last year of my MPhys physics degree I can safely say I have never looked back.

Over the last few years I have become hugely involved with the student physics society otherwise known as QuantumSoc. When I first joined the committee I was the academic convener. This essentially entailed me organising all the talks for the society as well helping out with the other various events the society put on such as cheese & wine, movie nights and the list goes on. This was a great way to get to know all the staff round the department. Due to various reasons part way through my first year on the committee I was elected as president of the society. This was massive eye opener. Not only was I in charge of the running of the society I also ended up on the organising committee of the Star Ball (which is an annual ball put together by members of AstroSoc, SUMS and QuantumSoc). I had never organised anything of that scale before so it was a huge challenge with ridiculous amounts of fun thrown into the mix from organising a root vegetable race to ordering hundreds of cupcakes and glow sticks.

It was during my time as QuantumSoc president that learned about the recently formed UK Institute of Physics University Student Network (USN). They are generally involved with supporting physics students and societies up and down the UK. They also organise an annual conference for students known as the Conference for Astronomy and Physics Students (CAPS). I and a few other members of QuantumSoc went down to CAPS which was taking place in Royal Holloway in 2013 to bid for the conference to take place in St Andrews in 2014. Much to our surprise we won the bid so I have spent the last year helping lead a small team in organising the conference - I am pictured with some of the participants below.

Recently at CAPS 2014 in St Andrews the IOP USN held its AGM. During this I stood for and was elected to president of the University Student Network. Having worked with the committee previously this has been a great experience working with students at a national level to help promote physics in the UK and Ireland. This is the executive committee pictured outside the IOP headquarters in London.

Also during my time as president of QuantumSoc I was put in contact with the organising committee of the International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) that was taking place in Heriot Watt in 2013. I was lucky enough to get a position on the organising committee. This mostly just meant that I helped guide people round for a week during the conference but I got to enjoy all the benefits of attending the conference at the same time. This was such a great experience getting to meet like-minded physics students from all over the world.

In the brief moments I escape from the world of physics I play several instruments. I recently picked up the violin again when I helped form, and now manage, a ceilidh band with several friends from my physics classes. The band is incredibly fun and has been successful beyond our wildest dreams with gigs almost every other week for different balls, societies and university hall events. I have also been involved the St Andrews string group for three years playing the viola and with a variety of other bands over the years.

During my last two summers I have worked with several research groups working on cutting edge research taking place within the same building we have lectures in. I often forget that all this awesome stuff is going on behind the scenes while we are sat in lectures. During my time with these groups I undertook small projects that my supervisors thought were suitable. In my first year under the guidance of Dr Pascal André I worked on developing and characterising polymers for encapsulating molecules for bio-medical purposes. In my second year, under the guidance of Dr Andrea DiFalco I fabricated metamaterials. During the course of this project I got to work in the school clean room operating many of the highly specialised pieces of equipment with in it. It’s a great feeling to finally take what you have been learning in lectures and see it applied in so many different ways.

Now going in to my final year I am sure this year will be more exciting than ever!

First posted BDS 2.9.14