Susan Skelton

Susan Skelton

Susan graduated in 2008 and a few months after this was awarded the "Best Physics Student in the UK" Prize, having been nominated by the School after her major successes in her final year project.

The "Science Engineering and Technology Student of the Year" award have been running for a number of years, and are organised by the "World Leadership Forum" in collaboration with a number of professional bodies.

Susan did her final year MPhys research project supervised by Prof Kishan Dholakia in the field of optical vortices and optical tweezers. Her title was "White Light Takes Hold: Diffraction and Trapping". Susan impressed the judges with the synopsis of her project that she had written in an article style, and at her interview. The prize was presented at a gala dinner in the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.

Susan Skelton is presented with the "Best Physics Student in the UK" prize 2008

Susan is pictured here being presented with her trophy by the Managing Director of the National Physical Laboratory, Steve McQuillan.

She says

" I was very flattered to be nominated by the University for this Award, and then to actually go on to win felt amazing! 

My project involved investigating the use of white light for applications in micromanipulation ­ the phenomenon of using forces from a tightly focussed light beam to hold and manipulate objects, like a sort of microscopic tractor beam.  Being able to undertake my Masters project within the Optical Trapping Research Group was great as it allowed me to benefit from the expert knowledge and skills of the other researchers within the group, as well as having access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. 

I am very grateful to all the academic and support staff at the University who gave me such a huge amount of friendly support and encouragement throughout my degree, especially my supervisor, Prof Kishan Dholakia, for his enormous amount of enthusiasm and encouragement. 

St Andrews has been a fantastic place to study, grow and develop as a scientist and I think this award is a tribute to the fantastic teaching and support available within the Department and the University as a whole.  I am very sad to be leaving such a wonderful town, but I couldn't have hoped for a nicer end to my degree!"

Susan then did a PhD in the Optical Tweezers Group in the Department of Physics at University College London. She investigated the use of laser beams with interesting polarisation structure for applications in optical trapping. After completing her PhD she moved to Osaka University in Japan where she is a postdoctoral researcher in plasmonics and nanophotonics.

First posted BDS 2.10.08