How asking a question on Stack Exchange kick started my career in research

I did my undergraduate degree at Aberystwyth University in Wales. I took the astrophysics course, which ran in parallel to the plain physics degree for the first two years, covering all the basics such as mathematical methods, classical mechanics, waves, optics, thermodynamics and so on. In the third year the astrophysics became the main focus,…… Continue reading How asking a question on Stack Exchange kick started my career in research

Travelling during the pandemic

This week has been a particularly exciting one, and not just due to the XENON experiment result that has set both the arXiv and cosmology Twitter abuzz. Fate finally smiled on me and the Spanish borders have reopened to non-residents, thereby allowing me a small window of opportunity to return to Madrid to collect the…… Continue reading Travelling during the pandemic

The joy of journal clubs

Presenting papers in journal clubs is one of my least favourite things to do. While I enjoy reading in general, I find reading academic papers a chore, especially if the writing is uninspired or the results obscured by reams of unfamiliar theory. However, papers are the currency of academia and, to stretch the analogy, journal…… Continue reading The joy of journal clubs

If at first you don’t succeed: Madrid week five

Last week was a week of success for me. I solved a problem that’s been plaguing me for about six months! I’m not going to talk in great detail about what exactly the problem was (I’m saving that for a post in a couple of weeks’ time), but it was one of those small, persistent…… Continue reading If at first you don’t succeed: Madrid week five

Surviving burn out and the post-paper blues

I published my first paper at the end of February. I won’t beat about the bush: writing this paper was exhausting. I’d had unrealistic expectations for how quickly I’d get publishable results, and consequently every delay to our draft felt like a disaster. At first we were going to be ready by July (2018). Then…… Continue reading Surviving burn out and the post-paper blues

A collaborative week in Leiden

I spent the past week at the Lorentz Institute, the theoretical cosmology part of the physics community at Leiden University. My collaborators there are fellow members of CANTATA, an EU COST-Action that is mainly focused on creating and testing alternative theories of gravity, and I was awarded my second STSM (short-term scientific mission) by CANTATA…… Continue reading A collaborative week in Leiden

Slow progress — but progress nonetheless

This week I’m in the Netherlands, visiting colleagues at the Lorentz Institute at Leiden University. Leiden is a beautiful place– a scaled-down, tourist-free version of Amsterdam– and the institute is nice too. It’s the oldest theoretical physics institute in the Netherlands and has played host to many greats of the field, including Ehrenfest, Fermi and…… Continue reading Slow progress — but progress nonetheless

Year Two

It turns out that maintaining a blog is somewhat difficult when faced with the time-consuming Cerberus that is a PhD. But, fuelled with a desire to practice my non-technical writing, I am dusting off my typing fingers and trying again. Two weeks ago I had my Major Review, which is essentially Portsmouth’s qualifying exam for…… Continue reading Year Two

Applying for a PhD in physics

Almost exactly one year ago, I sent my final two applications off for PhD places in cosmology. One year on, as my department prepares to interview the candidates for October 2018 entry, I wanted to reflect on the application process. In total, I sent off nine applications and had three interviews. I was fortunate in…… Continue reading Applying for a PhD in physics