Careers Scholarship Summer Programme 2017

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.

Industry collaborative funded PhDs in Applied Photonics

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 for further information about the CDT in Applied Photonics,  twitter feed @CDTAP or contact

Glasgow Science Festival: Physics Phrenzy

Physics frenzy

This is run as part of SUPA Graduate School “Hanging your research out in public” course and promises to be entertaining.

In this fast-paced ‘speed science’ social, Scotland’s up-and-coming physicists will compete to enthral and inspire you with their fascinating research stories. Prizes and pride are at stake in this informal and friendly event! Hosted by the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

  • Venue: DRAM!, Woodlands Rd
  • Date: Thurs 8 June
  •  Time: 18:30-20:00
  •  Cost: Free
  •  Details and booking: Online

This is just one of a plethora of events to celebrate Glasgow Science Festival 2017. From 8-18 June, venues across the city will be a-buzz with a huge range of activities.

All is revealed at

You can join the mailing list for the latest news and updates.

Physics degrees and the Physics of trees


Hi, I’m Sam Henderson. I graduated with an MPhys from the University of Edinburgh about six months ago. In this career orientated post, I’m going to let you know about my EngD. Importantly, I’ll let you know how I got the job, as well as what I see as the pros and cons.

So, I graduated, hoorah. Like many people, I didn’t manage (nor did I want to) jump straight into a graduate scheme or PhD. As a reaction to five years I had spent hunched over a desk solving differential equations, I initially spent just looked for jobs that would get me outside. After a few discussions, I settled on criterion for the jobs I would look for.

Primarily, I wanted sensible hours. I know who I am, and there are too many books, films, games, mountains, valleys and people to read, see, play, explore and meet working entrepreneurial hours. Additionally, I didn’t want to spend the next few years of my life in front of a screen. So, I applied, and applied and applied and… nothing, until I saw a position in Forest Research (Forestry Commission’s research division) on the civil service jobs website.

I applied for it even though I wasn’t confident I met the criteria (I was right, I didn’t get the job or even an interview). However, my application was seen, spotted by the person who would become my boss. A few days later, I got an invitation to come to an interview, which turned into an offer, which turned into my job.

My EngD is a collaboration between the University of Surrey and Forest Research (the research division of the Forestry Commission). For those who don’t know, an EngD is a doctorate, but one where you primarily work in industry. This means that you get an amazing qualification, experience working for an employer, and, you get generally get paid more (roughly £18-24K tax free).

For those interested, in my project, I’m studying if and how changing water conditions can cause cracking inside living trees. To do this I’m using a combined experimental and computational approach. Experimentally, I’m using a custom-built MRI machine to look at the water distribution inside living trees. I’ll use the data from experiments to help me develop a computer model of the tree cells, which will incorporate realistic fluid dynamics.

I’ll admit I have had to make some compromises. Truthfully, a large amount of my work is desk-bound, and I have had some long days writing reports for deadlines.

On the other hand, I get to work in a scenic location on a project I care about, I get to cycle to work, I get to grow/perform experiments on real trees, and I generally have a regular 38 hour working week.

Something that is important to remember about EngDs, is that each project, and each company is different. Do your research, and, if you have the luxury, think about what is important to you.

My experience of reading a stranger’s words on the internet has been that I can only take one point away. If you feel the same, take with you the comforting fact that with some time and planning, and a bit of work, physics can probably get you where you want to go.

I’m totally happy to be contacted by email, if anyone wants any advice from a student who was in a similar place to them.  Sam Henderson