What motivates you?
I place a lot of importance on my friendships and social life, and so one of my primary motivators is to be located somewhere close to my main friend base, in a role with a work-life balance where I can be enriched by both success at work and socialising outside of it. Working at Airbus meant that I was able to return to living in London so it suits me perfectly right now. Looking forwards, I am strongly motivated to have a positive impact on the direction of travel of the space sector. This new era of space commercialisation has certainly brought about innovation but there is danger that if left unchecked, private industry will be able to exploit space without restraint. I aim to work towards a position of influence within the UK sector such that I can advocate for space to be explored in a sustainable way that ultimately puts people before profit.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
My sister actually studied at UoB seven years before me, and I became awed by the whole university experience from a young age when I used to go up and stay with her over weekends. When it came to my own time to apply, Birmingham seemed to best tick all my boxes: a proper campus university in a large city, a top Physics department and an exciting social scene. Initially, my sister was not too happy with the idea of me copying her student experience, but she eventually came round when it meant she had an excuse to revisit the campus and Selly Oak.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
Too many to choose from! My first year as a fresher on the Vale was a blast, especially given the nature of the inter-block comradery that happened at Tennis Courts. One standout memory from University was evading campus security whilst myself and a few friends wheeled round a shopping trolley with a portable DJ station and speakers on top around campus to advertise the student night we had set up! Another great feature of my years at Birmingham was the Strictly Come Dancing watch-parties we hosted every weekend at our flat during which we would be pretty unforgiving critics. I also have a strange fondness for the months of revision sessions leading up to exams – a big group of us from Physics would revise together in the Med School Library each day. Whilst the grind was fairly grim during finals, we were in it together and would entertain ourselves with games and a daily dose of HQ Trivia (I’m pretty sure all the medics hated us though!).
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?
A huge part of my university experience was the Poynting Physical Society (PPS); the departmental society for physicists. I initially missed out on a place in halls and so didn’t get the chance to form an immediate friendship group. As a result, I decided to rock up in my second week to PPS’s AGM to join the committee as a way to branch out and meet fellow physicists. It turned out that decision would define my university experience! I got immersed with the society, became Secretary the following year and eventually went on to be President. My most memorable PPS moments have to be performing a series of ten iconic dance routines during one of PPS’s wacky quizzes as well as hosting a Spring Ball in the Great Hall that was attended by over 380 staff and students. I also had a radio show called ‘Gingers Have Soul!’ on Burn FM which was a great escape from the stress of university (though I think only my Mum tuned in!). Outside of university, I organised a student club night in Digbeth called FUZE with a group of friends which provided some of my own best nights out from my time at Birmingham.
How did your time at University help you start your career? What was your biggest influence?
The group project I did with the Radar Group at Birmingham, and the focus on gravitational wave astronomy within the Astrophysics Group both proved to be key talking points during my job interview due to their relevance to instruments used in space (i.e the LISA Mission). I was also always supported by great staff within Physics who take a real interest in the future careers of their students. I am especially indebted to the Head of School at the time Martin Freer who put me forward for the Michael Sheppard Award at graduation, which helped to massively boost my CV.
What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?
If you enjoy PPS’ events, don’t hesitate to get involved with the committee! Also, I would strongly recommend forming a group to revise together with as being able to trade answers and discuss exam problems is a really effective way to improve your own understanding and better prepare yourself.