Interns

Over the past few years, I have taken on a number of interns over the summer. This page contains information about my past interns: who they are, what they have done and what they aspire to go on to do.

Louise Smith - 2009

I competed my internship in 2009 during the summer vacation, between school years 12 & 13 in sixth form, studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. I am currently at Durham University studying Joint Honours Maths & Physics, within Natural Sciences.

The title of the project was 'Relationship between Galaxies and Black Holes' measuring the velocity of a black hole from the centre of a galaxy, after two black holes combine and escape from the centre of the galaxy. Clusters of stars bind to the escaping black hole, which make the path of the combined black hole observable.

I enjoyed visiting an observatory, working with PhD students who studied similar subjects to me, and getting a taste of what a PhD placement entails. Alongside learning more about black holes and how galaxies behave I gained experience within computer programming with simulations. I improved my communication, computer and skills. Also developed my maths and research approach. Also a greater understanding of black holes, and how they behave.

Mine was a Nuffield Bursary Scheme, which I found out about in the Physics department in sixth form, I attended a meeting where they presented us the basic structure of the program, contact details of our advisor and advertised the Crest Awards which we were eligible to partake.

After the 6 week placement, I produced a written report explaining the process, approach and findings of the project as well as an A0 poster summarising all ideas and findings. I took both of these along to Gold Crest Awards in Manchester, which Nuffield provided details about, where I was awarded a certificate to acknowledge the standard of my work.

Callum Bellhouse - 2010

I did the internship in 2010, last year and I was doing A-levels at Lady Manners school. I have just finished A-levels and I'm heading to University at the end of the summer to do a degree in Physics and Astrophysics. My project was based on the formation and evolution of galaxies and resulted in plotting the density of newly formed stars in a galaxy against the radius, basically giving an idea of where the stars form. I came back to Preston this year to start work on the second part of the project which is comparing that graph to a final density plot, to get an idea of the net radial movement of stars from where they form to where they end up.

I loved getting the chance to see how astrophysics research was carried out (since astronomy is a subject I really like anyway) and I gained a lot of experience with computer programming and more complex uses for a computer (which I use on a daily basis now) I also had a great time chatting to people who specialise in different areas of research.

For the Nuffield bursary all I had to do was fill in heaps of forms, and then more for the Crest award! I also had to make a poster and presentation for the Crest award to show at a presentation evening later in the year.

Hayden Alty - 2011

I am currently doing my A-levels at Cardinal Newman college. The subjects that I am doing are Maths, Further maths, Physics and music technology. I want to go to University to study Physics and then I intend to go into research or teaching. I chose to do the project because I thought that it would give me a good experience of what it would be like to have a career in physics research.

Tessa Darbyshire - 2011

Studying A-levels in Maths with mechanics, Physics, English Language and Religious studies at Canon Slade School. I want to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at University but maintain my interest in astrophysics through the Nuffield scheme and the Institute of Physics. From this project I wish to feed my interest in Astrophysics as well as gaining experience in the field of research.

Charlie Gatehouse - 2011

I have just completed my AS Year (Year 12) in which I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Modern History. I have always had a passion for Physics and receiving a bursary from the Nuffield Foundation allowed me to see what a career in research may be like.

My project, 'Exploring the Morphologies of the Milky Way's Bulge' involved me comparing simulated data to observational data to try to determine whether the theory of Saito et. al. [2011] that the Milky Way has an X-shaped bulge was a strong theory. The results were exciting and will hopefully lead to more work being done.

I am hoping to go to University to study Natural Sciences, as I also enjoy Chemistry, but I think Physics and eventually Astrophysics is the path that I want to take. I am interested in a job in research and so this internship has given me an insight into what that might be like.

Matt Ripley - 2011

I have just finished my second year doing Maths at Cambridge. I've been trying to think about what I want to do after University (not be a banker) and I'd always enjoyed Physics in school, so I got this placement at UCLan to see what working in research would be like.

Ben Thompson - 2011-2012

I have just finished the second year of Physics with astronomy at Durham University. I am currently on a 4 year MPhys course. I have A levels in Maths, Further maths, Physics, Chemistry, Computing, Philosophy and Critical thinking from Nelson and Colne College.

My project involves analyzing the intracluster light of N-body simulations. I have done this project because I would like to acquire research experience in preparation for my PhD application which I would hope to obtain in the future in the field of Astrophysics. I also have always had an interest in Astrophysics for a couple of years and this is the chance for me to explore my interest in front line research.

Sally Woodhouse - 2011

I am currently doing A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry at Cardinal Newman, I have just finished my AS Levels.

I am applying for a physics degree and after that am unsure about what I want to do. I have thought about going into research and hopefully this project will help me decide whether I am interested in research or not. The main reasons I applied for the project are to get experience in research and it also sounded really interesting!

Paul Stanford - 2012

I completed my project in summer 2012, between lower sixth and upper sixth. The A levels I am studying are maths, further maths, physics, chemistry and critical thinking. My project involved me writing programs to organize and interpret a range of data from three galaxy simulations regarding dark matter. The objective of the project was to see how the orbits of these particles affected the shape of a galaxy's dark matter halo. This internship provided an insight as to what real scientific research is like. I would like to go to university to study mathematics, the experience I have had with programming during this internship will be helpful for this.

Henry Andrew - 2012

I have been studying physics, maths, chemistry and psychology at AS level at Runshaw College. In my internship I have been working with Paul Stanford and Victor Debattista. My project involved analysing data obtained by galaxy simulations and writing programs to work out certain statistics about the particles which got closest to the galactic center, it was called: "Orbits of particles within triaxial dark matter halos". I did this internship in the year 2012 in my summer holiday between 1st and 2nd year of college. I did the internship with the Nuffield Scheme, and enjoyed learning about programing and galaxies/dark matter. It gave me an insight as to what being at university was like, and what sort of things researchers did.

Peter Tipping - 2012

I had just finished studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths with Mechanics and Physics for AS at Hutton CofE Grammar Sixth Form when I did my internship. The aim of the project was to create a computer code that output the Cartesian coordinates of the peaks of x-shaped galactic bulges from their Galactic coordinates. I spent 6 weeks on the internship; 2 weeks of training and 4 weeks working on the project. It involved large amounts of coding which was all new to me, a basic introduction to viewing galactic bulges and some new, basic math formulae. No prior coding experience is required which was a great relief. The learning curve was steep but being one of a few interns definitely helped as it allowed us to throw ideas back and forth in order to overcome some challenging, coding problems. The atmosphere is very friendly and helpful which made the experience even more enjoyable.

This internship gave me a good insight into university work and helped me improve my communication skills, self confidence and problem solving abilities, as well as develop a better mentality for working on extended projects; which should be extremely useful in the years to come as I intend on studying physics at degree level and hopefully going into a research career. I highly recommend this for anyone who has an interest in computer coding and wants experience in research based projects.

As a result of his project, Peter was invited to participate at the Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair. This is an animation showing the X-shape of a barred galaxy simulation.

Jessica Mowatt - 2012

I had just completed my second year at Durham University (MPhys Theoretical Physics) when I undertook an internship analysing stellar velocities within galactic bulges obtained from various simulations. The internship was very theoretical in nature, and focused on using and creating Fortran code to measure the kinematics. Representing these values via graphical methods allowed analysis of potential characteristic shapes, anomalies and asymmetries through varied parameters. The aim of the investigation was to attempt to establish relationships between the stellar velocities and the shape of the bulge, using results of the investigation carried out by Charlie Gatehouse (an intern in 2011). Having an opportunity to conduct supervised research has borne many rewards, such as developing group working, presentation and independent/logical thinking skills. It also gave me a fantastic opportunity to develop my coding skills, having only previously experienced some Python at Uni (and Logo in primary school!). I thoroughly enjoyed working at UCLan, the environment was very welcoming and heavily focused on education, displayed through the helpful and friendly staff within the department and the multitude of seminars hosted each week. The opportunity to undergo a theoretical internship was not only extremely helpful in finalising my decisions to continue with a theoretical physics degree, but has also fuelled my desire to aim for a PhD and has provided me with a small glimpse of what may be in store in the future.

Umair Asif - 2013

After having completed yr 12 at Nelson and Colne College (studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry), I participated in the Nuffield Research Scheme and got a placement working under Victor researching the cooling effects of gas in disk galaxies.

During the 6 weeks of the project I worked closely with my fellow interns Amy Thompson and Nadia Johnson, we had to learn coding from scratch as well as get used to the different operating system used. We had to produce several plots which could then be analysed using some coding to extract the relevant data and eventually I even managed to make a great piece of code to turn coolon time 'ON' or 'OFF'.

I have gained some great transferable skills which will prove to be very valuable in future and have thoroughly enjoyed my time during the placement. I plan to continue on to study Maths with Physics and this experience helped me make that choice.

Cat Miller - 2013

I undertook an internship at UCLan in the summer of 2013 through the Nuffield Research Placement Scheme. At the time, I had just finished Year 12 at Merchant Taylors' Girls' School studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and ICT.

The 6 week project focused on investigating the similarities and differences between galaxies with counter-rotating gas and stellar discs, and those with co-rotating. Throughout the placement, I worked closely with my fellow Nuffield research intern, Hannah Woodward, writing computer code to produce many graphs and finding (some) unexpected results. I was also required to write a report detailing our findings, as well as produce a poster to showcase our work.

Over the course of the internship, I learned a great deal about coding and computer programming, and now have a range of transferable skills for the future. The weeks were extremely beneficial for me, and greatly opened my eyes to the world of scientific research within University departments. Ultimately, I hope to become an Astrophysics researcher after completing a Physics degree and possibly a PhD, so this experience was greatly appreciated.

Hannah Woodward - 2013

I have just finished my first year at Winstanley College studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry As levels. My internship, under the supervision of Victor Debattista and Adam Clarke, was 'Investigating galaxies with counter rotating discs.' The aim of the project was to write codes to extract data then plot the data for analysis. We found lots of interesting properties of the flipped disc simulation such as warping and surpressed star formation.The coding and computer skills I gained were fantastic and I learnt so much not only from my own project but from interacting with the other interns. The project gave me an insight into working at university and what research would be like and I would recomend it to anyone interested in physics or astronomy. I did this project through Nuffield who really helped a lot and I am also entering for a Gold Crest award. All this experience is invaluble and can be applied to my university ambitions.

Roberta Wilkinson - 2013

I have just finished my A-levels (Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and German) at Parrs Wood Sixth Form and hope to go to university to study physics in a few months. I really wanted to gain some more practical skills related to physics before going to uni, and during my 2 and a half weeks here at UCLan I've been able to learn some useful programming from scratch in a short space of time. I've enjoyed working together with other interns and UCLan students to improve my code. I've also been editing the website, through which I've developed valuable skills. Attending talks and group meetings in the department gave me a great insight into what an astrophysics research environment is really like.

Chloe James-Turner and Alex Gresty - 2014

We did our internship in 2014 between years 12 and 13. Chloe is studying Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Art at King George V college in Southport. Alex is studying Physics, Maths, Chemistry and English Literature at Xaverian College in Manchester. We both want to study Physics at University and this internship has has given us an insight into what that will entail. During our placement we worked with Samuel Earp (a PhD student at UCLan) to research the angular momentum of dark matter and stars. This internship has been beneficial as learning various computational skills will be very useful at University.

Daniel Lea-Wilson and James Fallon

I'm Dan, I go to Carmel College and am going into year 13 in September having done Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry at AS level.

I'm James, I currently attend Sir John Deane's college and am also about to begin year 13. I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Music at AS level.

In our project, led under the supervision of Victor, Adam and Sam, we were researching on how gas particles disappear in a galaxy. We adapted a program to be able to read IORD binary files and identify the IDs of gas particles which go missing in a galaxy. We investigated the conditions in which the particles go missing.

This project has been very beneficial to both of us. We have enjoyed working on this project together and have developed programming skills as well as our teamwork skills. We were offered this placement through the Nuffield research scheme.

(Update August 2015): After his placement at UCLan, James used the skills he had picked up on his Nuffield Placement to do an EPQ on N-body simulations.

Dan confirmed his place on the Natural Sciences course at Lancaster after receiving an unconditional offer. James has chosen to study Physics at Oxford and has achieved the necessary A Level grades.

Javiera Leemhuis and Colm Whitehead

Colm: I study Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics as A-level, and will be studying Further-Maths next year. I presently attend Loreto College in Manchester with Javiera. Javiera: My A-levels include Maths, Further Maths, Physics, English Literature and Spanish. Currently I'm waiting for the next academic year to begin in September, in which I'll move on to Year 13.

We were introduced to the placement by the Nuffield Research Foundation, which sponsored our transport for the duration of our internship. During these past 6 weeks, we have been investigating the vertical motion of stars within spiral galaxies through programs such as tipsy. We also taught ourselves to program in Fortran 77, which was the main language the code we used produced our graphical data. We found the placement informative but challenging, as a lot of the work is done independently, but overall it was an enjoyable experience.

Connor Marvell

I recently finished my first year at Cowley Sixth Form studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics & Chemistry at AS level. My research project, under the supervision of Victor Debattista and Samuel Earp, was "an analysis of the alignment of a galaxy within its dark matter halo, and the effect of the galaxy's mass on it", in which we wrote codes, using the Python language, to extract data, calculate values with it, and plot various graphs and charts to analyse it. Through my project, I have learned how to code, something I never thought I'd get the hang of, and I feel I got a real insight into what research, and working at a university is like. I'd recommend this internship to anybody with an interest in physics, astronomy or coding, it is immensely interesting and I believe it to be very rewarding. My experience here will be very significant in my university ambitions. I applied for this project through Nuffield, & am very grateful to them and to Victor for the opportunity.

Rachel Hyde, Victoria Stanforth, and Aishvarya Raj

When we did our internship we had just finished Year 12. At A-Level, we are all studying Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, and Physics. We hope to study Physics or Maths at University, so the six week placement gave us a good insight into life in research. The project we undertook was to analyse galactic warps. The first few weeks were spent learning Python, and how to operate Linux. We then put these newly learnt skills into action when we began creating simulations and graphs to observe the effects of warps within a galaxy. Although we worked under a PhD supervisor, who gave us help and direction when needed, we developed independent study skills as well as the ability to work cooperatively with others to reach an end goal. Working in the Astrophysics department meant that we encountered academics of all levels on a day-to-day basis; hearing about their current research projects has inspired us all to continue with careers in research. In the last week, we wrote up a report of all our findings, thus learning a valuable skill, which will help us greatly in our academic careers. We highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in any area of astrophysics.

Suhyun Maeng, Alex Walls, Joshua Watts - 2018

We have all just finished Year 12, and are studying A-Level physics, maths, further maths, and computer science. Between us, we are planning to study computer science, astrophysics and pure maths at university. All three of us applied through the Nuffield Foundation for a research placement, and were put in contact with Victor.

Our project involved investigating the hypothesis that bars in galaxies can be destroyed by the formation of a smaller secondary bar. To do so, we calculated and plotted the amplitude and angle of the bar across the time of a series of simulations, for different radii. We also used maps of light intensity and density to visually confirm the existence of the bars. Since finding the double bar structure and the destruction of the larger bar, we have been analysing the density of the stars in the galaxy at different radii, and observed an increase in the density of young stars, which is preceded by the bar destruction. The experience has been extremely valuable and has given us useful insight into what genuine scientific research is like, and has made us even more secure in our decisions to pursue careers in our chosen fields.