Christina Smith

One of the things I've really enjoyed about my PhD is the opportunity to travel, both for conferences and for observing. I've visited five continents in three years, including places like Hawaii, Australia and Chile.

I knew that I wanted to work in astrophysics – I've always been fascinated by the stars and planets and so on, so the decision to begin a PhD in Astrophysics was pretty easy!

Choosing Manchester

Originally I chose Manchester for my undergraduate degree because the department had a good reputation in physics, it had strong ties to Jodrell Bank and I loved the city.

For my PhD, I decided to stay in Manchester because I still loved the city, I knew the department well and there were some great projects on offer working with some fantastic people. Also, I really like getting involved in extra-curricular activities and I could carry on with everything I'd become part of as an undergraduate and take up some new ones too!

Studying for a PhD

One of the things I've really enjoyed about my PhD is the opportunity to travel, both for conferences and for observing. I've visited five continents in three years, including places like Hawaii, Australia and Chile.

Through my programme, I've gained work independence and discipline – in a PhD you have be able to think your way out of a problem on your own sometimes, but also you have to realise when you need to ask for help.

I've also gained some confidence in public speaking due to presenting work at conferences and talking within the group. My scientific writing has had quite a bit of practice too. I've also gotten involved in a lot of outreach so I've had a lot of experience talking about science, astronomy and sometimes my own work with the general public, at a variety of levels.

There will always be ups and downs in research, and it may not be quite what you expect. Quite often, in the first few months you don't really fully understand what you're doing – but this is only temporary and lots of people have this! Even later on there'll be some days you'll make no progress and other days you'll fly through the work, but the feeling when things do work and you get interesting results is priceless.

Student life

When I first came to Manchester I remember thinking the city and university were huge and there was so much going on. It was fantastic suddenly being surrounded by people who were as interested in Physics as I was.

Definitely look into the societies, there's so many and it’s a great way to meet new people when you've moved to a new place. I am very involved in activities and societies, including sports, music and running the outreach podcast in the department for a year and a half. All of these have definitely helped my organisational and team work skills!

Thinking of choosing Physics at Manchester?

When I first came to Manchester I remember thinking the city and university were huge and there was so much going on. It was fantastic suddenly being surrounded by people who were as interested in Physics as I was.

Definitely look into the societies, there's so many and it's a great way to meet new people when you've moved to a new place. I am very involved in activities and societies, including sports, music and running the outreach podcast in the department for a year and a half. All of these have definitely helped my organisational and team work skills!

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