Joe Poleshaw

PhD Astrophysics student, Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast

Joe Poleshaw

The opportunity to be involved in original research as an undergraduate is one of the great features of the MPhys degree, and Manchester is host to researchers in a wide variety of disciplines and fields.

Physics with Astrophysics (4 years) [MPhys]

From: September 2008 to July 2012

I have had a keen interest in physics and astronomy since I was a child, although seriously considering it as a career option came from my time at Manchester.

My PhD

I am currently working within the Supernova group at the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. My work involves using optical telescopes in locations such as the Canary Islands and Chile to study supernovae, which are extremely energetic cosmic explosions. I spend most of my time studying and analysing data, attending meetings, writing, and giving presentations.

My work offers many opportunities for travel, including attending conferences and observing at the telescopes. So far, I have visited Asiago in Italy, Madrid in Spain, and La Palma in the Canary Islands. This has given me the chance to meet many like-minded people from all over the world. I also enjoy the flexible work hours and freedom; although the work is challenging, I am free to work whenever I like, within reason, as long as I make progress. I am also free to take my research in different directions depending on my interests.

In addition, I have taken part in public outreach events such as Jupiter Watch, which was associated with the BBC Stargazing Live program, and I also helped teach a lesson in GCSE astronomy.

Studying at Manchester

I thoroughly enjoyed the many lecture courses taught at Manchester, but my favourite aspect was my internship at Jodrell Bank during the summer of my third year, where I worked as part of the research group and continued this research during my final year project. This experience was vital in allowing me to successfully apply for PhD positions.

The opportunity to be involved in original research as an undergraduate is one of the great features of the MPhys degree, and Manchester is host to researchers in a wide variety of disciplines and fields. Travelling to Jodrell Bank every week was great fun and one of the main factors in my deciding to continue working in science.

Many of the skills I learnt during my time in Manchester have proven essential to me. These include computing skills, critical thinking, presentation skills, scientific writing, and working as part of a team, along with an in-depth knowledge of many areas of physics and astrophysics.

Student life

The University is within the city itself and close to the centre, which is very convenient. Manchester is a fantastic place to live; it's a city bustling with activity and things to do, and yet it's very easy to escape to the peace and quiet of the countryside, like the Peak District.

The city is extremely cosmopolitan, with people from all over the world living there. The atmosphere is friendly and laid back, the nightlife is fantastic and there are great places to eat out. Apart from less rain, what more could you ask for?

Thinking of choosing Physics at Manchester?

Manchester is the perfect place to study Physics. It boasts a rich scientific heritage and experts in many different areas of physics and astronomy.

The key factor in applying to study physics is genuine interest and passion for the subject. The degree is very challenging, but at the same time it is extremely rewarding and highly desirable to employers.

It doesn't require genius to pass the degree – just hard work, determination and continued interest in the subject material. Although the work is demanding, there is still plenty of time for a social life and extra activities.

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