CGG on campus & recruiting physicists


Are you passionate about science and technology and want to use your skills to solve real problems?

CGG provide geological, geophysical and reservoir expertise to natural resource clients around the globe. They are looking for people with excellent analytical and problem solving skills, who will apply these skills to solving these complex data issues.

CGG will be visiting the University of Edinburgh to share information with you about their graduate and internship programmes, their image processing technology & offer advice on how to prepare for their video interviews & assessment centres.

If you are currently studying Physics, Geophysics, Geology, Maths or Engineering, see them on Thursday 15th March from 1pm – 2pm.

Details here:


Women in physics – roles and role models

Female physicists responded in overwhelming numbers to a twitter campaign that the IOP ran to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with women from all over the world tweeting selfies along with brief descriptions of what they do.

Women across the world tweet in IOP’s #Iamaphysicist campaign

IOP Media Officer Melissa Brobby sent out a tweet on 5 February asking women working as physicists to tweet a selfie using #Iamaphysicist and ran this for the rest of the week until the international day on 11 February. More than 200 women responded by sharing selfies, with participants ranging from PhD students to senior particle physicists.

Women across the world tweet in IOP’s #Iamaphysicist campaign

Among them was IOP member Candice Basson, a first-year PhD student working in the University of Manchester Particle Physics Research Group and on the ATLAS experiment at CERN. The furthest afield came from New Zealand and there were tweets from scientists at Jodrell Bank, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the European Space Agency, a staff scientist at NASA and IOP Fellow Mary Whitehouse, who is Chair-Elect of the Association from Science Education.

Bridge between academia & industry: Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

What is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme helps businesses in the UK to innovate and grow. It does this by linking them with an academic or research organisation and a graduate.

A KTP enables a business to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project through a knowledge-based partnership.

The academic or research organisation partner will help to recruit a suitable graduate, known as an Associate. They will act as the employer of the graduate, who then works at the company for the duration.

The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business.

KTP is one of the UK’s largest graduate recruitment programmes. There are over 300 job opportunities each year . It supports career development and often leads to a permanent job.  For more information and national vacancies, visit their website

You can find more about KTP Scotland opportunities here:

Be aware, even if they don’t specify a Physics degree, the criteria for many vacancies connect well to a Physics degree so it’s always worth discussing with them if you are interested.


No smoke without fire…fire engineering opportunities for MPhys finalists

Interesting opportunity on MyCareerHub:

JGA Fire Engineering are actively looking for fire engineers – final years and recent graduates – and targeting physics students. You should have a minimum 2.1 BSc + MSc OR on be on track for a minimum 2.1 MPhys.

“Considerable advances in the understanding of fire and smoke movement, and the effects of fire on buildings, has led to a fire engineering approach to building fire safety that has allowed more efficient design of highly complex buildings. A successful fire engineering approach requires the application of scientific principles to engineering problems.

JGA are looking for graduates who can apply their education and knowledge to developing solutions to those problems. As a Design Engineer you would be responsible for the fire engineering analysis of buildings including shopping centres, airport terminals and large office buildings. This would include modelling of fire growth, smoke movement, structural fire resistance and occupant behaviour, using software packages including Computational Fluid Dynamics, and the production of technical reports.

JGA are a specialist fire consultancy with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Dublin, Belfast and Galway. One of their current projects is the fire engineering for the St. James Centre redevelopment in Edinburgh, but they also undertake much smaller projects – so quite a range.

They encourage early responsibility in engineers and you will be given the opportunity to progress rapidly. Working with experienced engineers you would rapidly gain experience and knowledge. JGA actively encourage engineers to achieve chartered status and offer any help they can with the process.”

More info on MCH

The physics of beer

beer soc

Dr Anne Pawsey is from the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems (research area Soft Matters Physics). She will be presenting with The Beer Society to show the science in your pint.

Interested? Sign up here

To tie in with this event next week, I thought you’d enjoy a few more stories about the physics of beer tapping, beer and physics, 5 physics facts you didn’t know about beer and the science behind the perfect pint. If your taste runs to champagne, see my earlier blog post

There are many opportunities for physicists in research & development in the food and drink industries.

Our very own Dr Tiffany Wood, Director of the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership works with companies from a wide range of industries including the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and drink and agrochemical sectors. Dr Wood is also on the Member’s Advisory Group of the Society of Chemical Industries (SCI) which brings together physicists, chemists, engineers, biologists and other disciplines working in a range of academic and industry contexts

The SCI has a number of Technical Interest Groups, providing opportunities to exchange ideas and gain new perspectives on markets, technologies, strategies and people. The Food group is one of the largest and it:

actively encourages university-level students to take up careers in food related subjects through competitions and through our programme of topical, challenging and interesting meetings”.


Astrophysics & success with the Hyperloop Team HYPED

Elisha Jhoti, 4th Year Astrophysics student, describes how studying physics helped her technical work with The University of Edinburgh Hyperloop Team.

Hot on the heels of Elon Musk sending one of his Tesla cars into space, the (rather successful) UoE student Hyperloop team are running an event next week around designing a hyperloop track.  More here

HYPED social media:

I am a 4th year Astrophysics student and I joined The University of Edinburgh Hyperloop Team, HYPED, this semester. Even though I have only been in the society for one semester, I am already consumed by all things Hyperloop.
As a physicist I was unsure how I could be of much help when I first joined HYPED. On the contrary, physics is the foundation of every engineering decision we have to make. How much force can this material take? What is the pressure force exerted on this vessel? How thin can this part be? All of these questions require basic physical principles to be answered.

My knowledge of physics has helped me provide a different angle to tackle problems from, in addition to conventional engineering methods. Rewind four years and if you told me I would be involved in an engineering focused society at university I would have never believed it. Before university I wasn’t really sure what engineering was. However, I knew that I wanted to learn everything I could about astrophysics.

From the age of 14 I was obsessed with all things space; and so I applied to study Astrophysics at Edinburgh. I chose Edinburgh because I knew they had a lot of flexibility in their degree program; allowing you to pick and choose from a wide range of courses, and I knew that studying at a prestigious, research-led university would give me opportunities that would not be available to me at other universities, for example, studying abroad. Last year I was studying abroad on the international exchange program.

When I came back I realised I wanted to get more involved in societies at my university which I had previously overlooked. I discovered HYPED at the Societies Fair at the beginning of my first semester of my fourth year. After attending the first meeting, I realised how passionate HYPED members were; it was unlike anything I had ever seen at any other university society; they actually cared
about what they were working on. I decided I wanted to be a part of the team.

After attending the first technical meeting, I decided to join the static team; their responsibility is to design the static components of the pod, including the structure and body. This seemed the most relevant team for my skill set at the time, and getting to design the structural components of the pod sounded like a welcome challenge. I joined the Pressure sub-team within Static; we design the pressure vessel that will house the dummy, and eventually passengers. I was very interested in this component, as the team had not tried to design a livable environment in the pod last year, so we were starting from scratch. The inside of the pressure vessel will be at atmospheric pressure; whilst outside the pod it will be close to a vacuum. I was interested in how our design ideas could be applied to other applications, such as space travel and
hyperbaric chambers; the possibilities could be endless.

Over the course of the  semester I became more involved in HYPED; after presenting on behalf of the Pressure team at our first society-wide meeting I was given the opportunity to attend the InnovateUK 2017 conference to which HYPED had been invited. This was an invaluable experience and allowed me to gain insight into the overview of the whole project and what the future plans for HYPED were.

Whilst speaking to engineering experts and industry delegates at the conference I realised the effect the idea of Hyperloop had on other people outside of our society. Many were excited and impressed at the prospect of Hyperloop becoming a reality, some did not even believe we were only university students. The reaction from these delegates made me realise the importance of the society; if we could already make industry experts begin to question their ideas about the future of transport then we were already beginning to change the game.

Being a part of the technical team in HYPED has made me realise how physics can be applied to a wide range of problems, and how the problem solving skills perfected during the physics degree can be used in any number of situations; from modelling completely abstract concepts to designing parts in an engineering project, such as HYPED. This is the reason I love physics; it can be used as a tool to solve almost any problem, as long as you have the physical laws in place, you can predict and model behaviours of particles, materials and forces.

When I chose to study astrophysics I did consider that perhaps I was choosing a very specialised field, which I knew I would enjoy studying, but that it may limit me. However, I have found this is not the case; concepts and skills I have learnt during my degree I have realised are applicable anywhere and everywhere, from solving engineering problems, to carrying out astrobiology experiments. I am looking forward to what new projects HYPED will bring my way and I hope that reading this blog has shown you how studying physics can allow you to use it as an interdisciplinary tool, helping you solve a wide range of problems that can help make the world a better place

Earning and learning to be a teacher

PGCE with Supported Induction Route (SIR) –  a new course at the University of Dundee designed:

  • to help you become a teacher in a 52-week course
  • to meet Scotland’s demand for secondary teachers of STEM subjects
  • to combine Master-level training with school-based experience

Unlike other routes into teaching currently available in Scotland, with this programme you can study while receiving the equivalent of a probationer teacher’s salary (£22416 p.a. as at 1st April 2016).

Running from January to January, it brings together the first two steps in your career as a teacher, the initial teacher education programme and the Teacher Induction Scheme, and you will be fully registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), allowing you to teach pupils of secondary age in your subject specialism (Physics, Chemistry, Computing, Mathematic,) in Scottish schools.

Rather than the three 6-week placements you experience in a traditional teacher training course, the PGCE with SIR features a 37-week school placement, enabling the development of stronger, continuous working relationships with the school, its staff, pupils and the community.

Find out more here

From Astrophysics to Data Science at First Derivatives – Edinburgh grad profile

Henry Noonan

Thanks to Henry Noonan, an Edinburgh astrophysics graduate, for this great profile

I recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh in July with a degree in Astrophysics. Following the completion of my time at university I began my professional career at First Derivatives. First Derivatives (FD) is a consulting firm based in Northern Ireland specializing in their high speed database technology, kdb+. This technology is used in a number of different fields including finance, pharma, F1 racing and even the space industry.

However in my opinion, the most appealing part of working for FD is the ability to travel around the world and work on these interesting projects. Almost all of the Data Scientists I entered the company with back in August have been deployed around the U.K. and the world (including New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong).

After joining in August, I was sent to New York in September to start on a surveillance project with a hedge fund. I am in a technical role, which for the moment involves testing a wide variety of the back-end code the team has developed. This project has not only helped develop my technical skills but has introduced me to the financial world, specifically to that of U.S. equities and options markets. Working at FD is a great opportunity to get into and experience the financial world, even if you did not study any finance at university.

How physics helps

Studying physics prepared me well with what I have faced in the professional world so far. Specifically, the coding modules (like computer modelling) and statistical analysis courses I took at the UoE helped me with the coding that I am doing on the job. Completing my senior honours dissertation (amongst other projects) helped show me how to balance time in a long-term project as well as deliver a professional result, all while effectively communicating with my supervisor. Communication is a big part of working with FD; you are expected to be able to interact in a professional setting with clients (it is not just sitting at an isolated desk coding!). This balance of a technical environment mixed in with face-to-face interaction is something I was looking for when I was searching for a job after university. FD has certainly delivered with regards to this.

Application process

In terms of applying to First Derivatives, the application process was quite easy, easier than other jobs I applied to. I found FD through the UoE’s career services website and applied online. I had three interviews: a phone call, a skype call and finally a technical “shared screen” interview on skype where I had to demonstrate some basic coding abilities in a windows command prompt terminal. Following these three interviews I received an offer.

Advice to UoE students

Start early. I started my job search back in October of my final year and I am so happy that I did it then. Many of my friends waited until the summer of graduation and regret waiting so long. Additionally, a lot of the grad-scheme applications close by January so starting on the job applications early is highly beneficial. I know there is a lot of work in the final year of the degree; finding a good balance between university work and the applications is important. My last piece of advice is to understand what role you are applying to. What I mean by this is know what the job entails before you apply for it, especially if you get invited for an interview. All in all I would say that it may seem daunting applying for jobs but know that there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to flourish in.”

First Derivatives are currently recruiting for graduate data science roles & other roles .  Closing date 30 November

Finance to cancer research: student story

MPhys graduate Michal Tomaszewski  graduated as the top student on Mathematical Physics degree. Here he shares his story of gaining experience from various financial institutions before changing his path to cancer research.


When I was starting the masters year of my degree in Edinburgh, I was not sure what I would like to be doing. The several summer internships in the trading departments of investment banks, definitely helped my soft skills and business awareness, but I did not really feel like this is the work I would like to be doing for the years to come.

The idea of doing a PhD came to me as soon as I started the MPhys project I did with Dr Bartlomiej Waclaw in experimental biophysics. The exploratory nature of the work we did on the growth patterns of 3D bacterial colonies, trying to put together the various experimental and theoretical observations to make a coherent picture really appealed to me and I started looking online for PhD opportunities combining physics and biology.

While one needs to consider multiple factors such as the project formulation, research focus of the group and group leader, location and financial arrangements, the choice of a suitable PhD very much comes down to meeting the people and seeing the lab and the town – after all this is the environment you would be spending the next three to four years of your life in.

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MPhys in Mathematical Physics in 2014 and went on to a PhD in cancer imaging at Cambridge University. I focus on the development of a new imaging technique to visualise the blood vessels in cancer tumour and measure their condition. The technology we are working with is called optoacoustics, and it relies on generation of ultrasound in the tissue following laser illumination. When the laser light gets absorbed, especially by strong absorbers such as haemoglobin in the blood, a small amount of heat is generated, causing thermal expansion and creation of a pressure wave which can get detected the same way as in traditional ultrasound imaging. During my work in Cambridge, I’ve developed a way to use this technology to gain insight into how well the tumour vasculature works, which gives doctors an indication of the aggressiveness of the disease and can guide the treatment.

Just like my work involves a mixture of physics and cancer biology, my affiliation is joint between the Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The latter is where my experiments are, and where I spend most time. Working for Cancer Research UK is a great pleasure, as a generously funded Cambridge Institute greatly supports our research. Especially in the field of imaging, where open access to large and expensive scanners is essential, a well-equipped centre helps the researchers greatly.

I find the work I do incredibly exciting and fulfilling for many reasons:

  • the wide scope of the project, involving working with in vivo tumour models
  • using various imaging modalities and learning to use the equipment as well as
  • being involved on the technical side of signal and image processing
  • writing code…….makes the work very varied and interesting.

Working directly with a cancer research charity, collaborating with clinician scientists provides great motivation as we can feel our advances, although preclinical, could in the future make a real difference in clinical care.