Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology in the School of Physics and Astronomy talks about his job.
Tell us about the key parts of your role?
I teach a popular undergraduate course in astrobiology that is enormously enjoyable to deliver. I also set up and run a project in Scottish prisons called ‘Life Beyond’ to get prisoners to design stations for Mars. They’ve even published a book on their work.
The other side of my role is in research on life in extreme environments, space missions and other aspects of astrobiology. I try to get into the lab at least once a week if I can. It’s difficult with other duties, but doing science is a huge pleasure and particularly helping others get on their way to doing the same.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Freedom. Provided I’ve done what’s expected of my more formal roles – the freedom to walk into a prison and propose a new way of educating prisoners, the freedom to write a popular science book, the freedom to spend my lunch break designing and registering a Mars exploration tartan.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
When I was 24, I designed and built a moth catching ultralight aircraft that I flew at dusk over the tropical rainforest canopy in Indonesia. I suppose you might regard it as a more serious phase of my interest in butterflies and moths. I flew with night vision goggles provided by the Dambusters (617) Squadron who were our expedition Patron.
I crashed the moth machine about two months into the expedition. Actually, I wouldn’t generally recommend catching moths using an aircraft.
(Adapted from UoE CSE staff newsletter)
Our recent PhD Horizons event went very well with around 160 PhD students and research staff attend on the day, and 29 speakers, including the School of Physics and Astronomy’s very own Dr Ross Galloway, talking about his career experience.
We had speaker panels covering areas including policy & research, entrepreneurial, non-academic science, creative industries, professional roles in higher education, academic careers, business & consultancy
Feedback on the day was very positive. Summaries from all speaker panels will be available on our website soon and the summaries from 2017 are still available on the PhD section of our website
Find out more here
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.
Michal Tomaszewski, who graduated as the top student on Mathematical Physics degree, is currently working on his PhD in cancer research at Cambridge and you can listen to him explain his ground breaking work in this video clip
Michal followed an interesting path. He did a business internship in the City and gained experience from various financial institutions before he changed his path to cancer research. Having done a purely theoretical degree he is now at home in a wet lab.
It just shows:
- it’s good to try different things to work out where your preferences lie
- starting in one area doesn’t mean you have to stay there
- no matter what you do, you develop personally and professionally from it
It was great to work with some of the students doing project placements as part of this programme. It’s a competitive programme open to students in later years of their BSc or MPhys.
This year I offered two sessions. The first one was co-delivered with Ross Galloway, the academic in the School whose remits includes this programme. This was to prepare students for their placements (academic & industry), address any questions and concerns and help them move confidently into their project placements.
The second one today was to help students reflect on what they did, what went well, what went less well, how they coped with the challenges and how it might influence future career plans.
Importantly, it was also about how to present what they gained from doing the project. There was lots of animated discussion, constructive peer feedback and hopefully everyone felt a lot more confident about how to talk about their project and what it means they can do.
I also think those in the group today will do a much better job at the end-of-placement presentation event as well as in future applications, interviews and networking events.
CDT Photonics | Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics
Meeting industry’s need for highly skilled engineers in the photonics-electronics interface
The CDT in Applied Photonics works with companies developing photonics-enabled products and services, from consumer technology and mobile computing devices to healthcare and security. Each of their collaborations is built around an EngD or PhD student, providing them with masters-level technical and business qualifications, along with an industrially-connected doctoral research project.
What is an EngD?
The EngD is an alternative to a traditional PhD aimed at students wanting a career in industry.
Students spend about 75% of their time working directly with a company in addition to receiving advanced-level training from a broad portfolio of technical and business courses. On completion students are awarded the PhD-equivalent Engineering Doctorate.
The Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics has a number of FULLY FUNDED VACANCIES for Engineering Doctorate (EngD) and PhD positions in Applied Photonics. An EngD combines PhD level research, technical courses & research based in industry. EngD stipend in the region of £21,000 are available for UK students and EU students who are resident in the UK. PhD stipends are in the region of £15,000.
Visit www.cdtphotonics.hw.ac.uk for further information about the CDT in Applied Photonics, twitter feed @CDTAP or contact EngD@hw.ac.uk
Organised by School of Physics academic Dr Tiffany Wood, Director of Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership and Chair, SCI Scotland Group
Calling UG and PG students across all scientific disciplines
SCI’s Day of Science & Careers , University of Edinburgh, 5 April 2017
Explore a wide range of careers in science-based industries. Speakers from industrial, academic and independent backgrounds will present their career pathway and offer insights in to what to look out for, and what to consider when choosing your next steps. Plus sessions on interview skills and CV writing, with opportunities to network with speakers and fellow delegates.
Talks will include the following areas:
- Working in Analytical Chemistry
- Intellectual Property & Patents
- Life in an SME
- Scientific Publishing
- Academic Careers
- Regulatory Affairs
- Academic/Industrial Partnerships
- Scientific Marketing
For the full timed programme and to book online please visit: http://bit.ly/DOSCS17
Day of Science and Careers Scotland 2017 flyer_final