Archive for PhD students

A Blast from the Past

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , on September 5, 2011 by telescoper

I’ve just remembered that the annual STFC summer school for all new PhD Students in Astronomy finished last week. This year it was held in the fine city of Glasgow and I trust a fine time was had by all,  thanks both to the excellent astronomy staff there who organised the whole thing,  and to the eminent invited speakers who supplied specialist lectures.

When I was just about to start my PhD (or, more accurately, DPhil) in 1985 there was a summer school like this too only that was before STFC and even before its predecessor,  PPARC. The Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC)  summer school I went to was actually held at Durham University; we all stayed in St Mary’s College, just over the road from the Physics Department. I remember it well and indeed still have the notes I took during the lectures there.

Coincidentally, I recently unearthed this picture which has, unfortunately, been slightly damaged on the left  hand side. It might be interesting for all those who attended this year’s School to see how many of this group are still doing research 26 years later; the newbies may even be able to identify their PhD supervisors!

I’m in the middle with the Peter Beardsley haircut, and you can easily pick out a number of people who are still active in astronomy research, e.g. Melvin Hoare (Leeds), Moira Jardine (St Andrews), Alan Fitzsimmons (QUB), Steve Warren (Imperial), Alastair Edge (Durham), and Jon Loveday (Sussex), to name but a few. Anyone else see anyone they recognize? Or anyone else who was there happen to be reading this blog? Please do let me know through the comments box!

UPDATE: I’m grateful to Melvin for pointing out to me that Andy Norton has already posted a version of this picture elsewhere, with a much more complete list of identifications!


Posted in Education, Football with tags , , on June 23, 2010 by telescoper

My agenda for today was dominated by three events, each involving a different form of progression. The timing was a coincidence, I think.

First, this morning, a bunch of interviews with our first-year postgraduate research students. Like most universities, the first year of a PhD at Cardiff University is a probationary period so we get the students to write a report on what they’ve been doing and also get input from their supervisor. This is then followed up by a panel interview, with 3-4 members of staff, at which a judgement is made as to whether to allow them continue. This used to be a relatively informal thing involving supervisor and one other member of staff, but I’ve recently taken over as Director of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Physics & Astronomy and made the process a bit more rigorous, having the same panel talk to all the students. It all passed off pretty well apart from the fact that a couple of students are away and I’ll have to put them through the process later on in the summer when they get back from their observing trips and whatnot.

After a spot of form-filling and a quick lunch we went straight into another examiners’ meeting, this time for undergraduate students. We already went through the marks for graduating students a couple of weeks ago, but today we had to look at the results for our Prelim candidates, and Years 1 and 2. Here the focus for most staff is on their personal tutees, usually 4 in each year, checking they all progress as intended to the following year and presenting any special circumstances.  This meeting can be quite fraught, but this year went smoothly.

Which brought us to the last issue of progression, and the one I was less optimistic about  prior to the event. However, England did manage to win their game against Slovenia in the FIFA World Cup by the not entirely convincing scoreline of 1-0. That means they too progress to the next round, although how much further than that they can go is not very clear. Well done to the USA too, who beat Algeria to win the group and take their place in the last 16.

All in all, a busy but productive and satisfying day. Now I’m going to watch one more game of football and have a glass or two of wine before having an early night.