My name is Marcello
and I earned my PhD in particle physics at the University of Manchester, in
2013. Since then, I have been working as a researcher for the Science and
Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
STFC is a UK government body that carries out civil research
in science and engineering, and funds UK research in areas including particle
physics, nuclear physics, space science and astronomy.
I work in the technology department and I am
involved in projects dealing with the building of instrumentation for
experiments in nuclear physics. This type of instrumentation is not available
commercially because it has very particular requirements. Hence, STFC employs dedicated
teams of physicists and engineers to build this type of equipment. And I am one
I decided to continue my education after the age of 18
and so enrolled in a bachelor’s degree of physics at the University of
Manchester. This decision opened up many opportunities in my life.
I gained an objective view of natural phenomena and increased
Science and engineering have the power to change the
world we live in. These subjects produce the most amazing technology and fuel
the economy of many countries. For this reason, the analytical thinking of a
physicist is highly valued in the job market.
As a student, I did not always find physics easy to
understand and did not like all of its different branches equally. My favorite topic
is the interaction of radiation with matter, so I decided to specialize in this
area for my masters and PhD.
An education in physics gave me the opportunity to study
and work in an environment which is professional, multicultural and at the
forefront of human knowledge.
From the neighborhood I grew up in, I found myself
involved in international projects investigating important questions about our
existence. I spent time in laboratories in other countries to exchange
information about my work. During this time, I also made strong friendships and
discovered new places.
The knowledge I gained in high-school in mathematics,
physics and computer science, has been beneficial to my career.
To summarise, I wanted to include some figures about
salaries of researches in the initial and middle stages of their careers:
PhD student (22-25
years old): about £12,000 per year.
(25-35 years old): from £28,000 to £35,000 per year.
Academic staff or
senior researcher (35-45 years old): from £35,000 to £45,000.
Salaries will increase even further for managerial
positions within Universities or Research Institutes and are generally higher
in the private sector.
Apprenticeships are really good opportunities to boost
your experience in science and engineering and I’ve found that it is easier to
find apprenticeships in engineering than in science. Engineering or IT
apprenticeships are valuable opportunities for aspiring scientists.
Some organizations that help people to enter top
Get involved and become a STEM Ambassador.
As part of our Thinking Careers section, we explore the non-academic career options taken by those who have completed their PhDs. In this entry, Fiona Lynch discusses how she went from researching vascular physiology to working in student recruitment at the University of Manchester.
My name is Fiona Lynch and my
current role is Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Coordinator in the
University of Manchester. I have always
been interested in science and studied Biochemistry in University College
Galway, Ireland. Following this I moved
to Dublin and did a PhD in vascular physiology in University College Dublin. After this I moved to the UK to start my
first academic job or post-doctoral job in the University of Manchester. Originally I was supposed to stay for a three
year contract but fast forward 14 years and I am still happily in Manchester,
married with three young children.
I work in the Directorate for
Student Experience in the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation
Team. My job involves organising
presentations and tours for schools who wish to visit the campus and get a
taste for University life, organising the university open day and supporting
the widening participation and other recruitment activities. The job has a lot of variety and I am
constantly learning new skills and drawing on transferrable skills I used when
I was a researcher.
My first taste of serious
research was during my PhD in Dublin where is studied how our pulmonary
arteries behave to changes in carbon dioxide and pH levels as they would if
challenged by various pulmonary
disease. This interest in vascular
physiology and a drive to broaden my horizons led me to the University of
Manchester to start a three year post-doctoral research position to try and
understand the behaviour of the body’s smallest arteries, the resistance
arteries, to changes in blood pressure.
I studied human coronary arteries using pressure myography. This allowed me to replicate very closely the
environment these arteries would be exposed to in the human heart. I was fortunate to be offered further
contracts to continue my research and eventually settled into a project
studying how the fat which surrounds our blood vessels affects their
behaviour. One of the highlights of this
for me was being allowed to witness open heart surgery. Others included trips to international
conferences and the opportunity to convey my research and findings to peers,
not to mention the chance to see parts of the world I wouldn’t normally go to. Low points included experiments not working
after endless hours in the lab (although this is par for the course for a
researcher!) and grants being rejected (another normal occurrence in academic
So how do you go from the lab to
my present job? The key message I would
give is to develop your transferrable skills.
Crunching stats in Excel and creating presentations for conferences and
writing papers are all excellent skills which can be used in many non-academic
roles. While I was a PhD student and
Post doc I undertook lots of public engagement activities. Some just involved going into schools talking
about my work and career path, others involved working closely with teachers to
develop academic enrichment activities and workshops. I won funding from The Physiology Society and
ran two big outreach events in the Museum of Science and Industry and I became
a Widening Participation Fellow. I also
took advantage of all the staff/student development courses on offer and
obtained a diploma in management. When
the time came for a career change I knew I wanted to work with schools in some
way and continue with outreach work so all of the above helped me secure my
current role, which I enjoy immensely.
To find out more about research and heart disease, click here.
For more information about the world of Physiology, click here.
You can find more information about public
engagement activities in the University of Manchester here.
The YPU's previous entry in the Thinking Careers section can be found here.
Are you interested in Science, Technology and Engineering?
Would you like to meet representatives from some of the biggest
companies in the UK?
Then come along to The University of
Manchester on Wednesday 23rd
October and find out more!
During the event, you will get the
opportunity to visit information stands from companies within the technology, engineering, manufacturing,
healthcare, construction, transport and media sectors.
Companies such as Samsung, JVC, BBC Academy, Network Rail, the NHS, 2Dtech and many more will
be at the exhibition.
You will also have
the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers on subjects such as ‘Choosing What and Where to Study’, ‘Student Life’ and ‘So you think you know the Sciences?’ Current students and staff from academic
schools will be available throughout the event to answer any questions you have
Location: The Great Hall, Sackville Street Building, The
North Campus, The University of Manchester
Please register completing a registration survey. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
The registration deadline is Friday
11th October at 5pm.
We look forward to seeing you at the
My name is Omar, and I am second year PhD student in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE). I’ve always had an interest in engineering but after finishing my A-Levels back in 2006, I was really struggling to choose one discipline of engineering to pursue. I’ve always enjoyed physics and mathematics which is utilised by all disciplines of engineering in different ways. After lengthy deliberation and discussions I decided to go for electrical and electronic engineering. The fact that EEE is involved in everything we do in modern life was fascinating, not to mention the fast paced development it has been displaying in the last 10 years producing some of the most exciting developments in the last decade or even century.
I joined the University of Manchester as an undergraduate and completed a Masters in Engineering (MEng) degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. During my final (fourth) year I was lucky enough to find myself working on an exciting project that was trying to help a charity, Find A Better Way (FABW), develop better tools for detecting landmines in countries affected by wars and previous conflicts. I was then offered a PhD studentship to continue my research upon graduation.
There are currently 110 million active landmines in place that would require around £20 billion and, more importantly, 1,000 years to clear using current clearance technologies. These mines are scattered across more than 65 countries and have been left behind as an enduring legacy of previous conflicts and wars. They continue to kill and maim civilians (particularly children) worldwide, thus the charity was launched with the focus of funding research to develop innovative ideas and technologies to aid the de-mining procedure.
Current demining procedures typically utilise mainly metal detectors to locate mines by interrogating the metal content within a mine. This method displays an imperative weakness as every metallic object needs to be treated as a mine, whether it is a nail, bullet shell, a can or in fact a mine (the picture to the right shows the relative size of a mine, compared to a bullet shell and a screw). In areas of previous conflict this metallic clutter decreases the rate of clearance severely as well as increasing the cost of clearance and risk. Hence, a number of projects have been launched at the University to try and provide the de-miners with more information about the objects detected in an effort to confidently eliminate clutter, speeding up the process and saving cost and lives.
Throughout my study at university I have gained vast knowledge and developed vital skills that will hopefully help me when looking for a job. During my undergraduate and research degrees I was able to learn about the world of EEE, opening the opportunity to pursue a career in some of the most exciting firms that are involved in technological developments around the world, from Apple to Jaguar to Airbus. Engineering naturally helps to develop an analytical mindset and heightens your attention to detail: values that are sought out by employers in every sector. I have also developed my team working skills, as well as problem solving abilities, through the numerous projects I undertook during my undergraduate degree. So, hopefully, with these recent additions to my skill set, I am looking to pursue a career in consultancy and engineering. The fast paced nature of consultancy and the broad exposure you get for the sector is an attractive aspect; however, a departure from the engineering world still seems like an upsetting prospect so I will also be looking for opportunities within it. In a way, that is the beauty of engineering; the fact that you can always pursue it as a career path but, if you feel like moving to something different, all other industries are keen to employ you as a result of the unique set of skills it nurtures.
For more information about EEE at the University of Manchester, visit the department's webpages.
If you would like to find out more about Find A Better Way (FABW), the projects it funds and the work it does to help communities affected by mines, click here.
The Institute of Engineering and Technology will help you discover more about EEE and its career prospects. You can also find out more about study and careers in Engineering through the Brightside Trust's Bright Knowledge pages.
up and run by researchers from the University of Manchester, the Barometer
podcast aims to inform the listener about the wonders of Earth’s atmosphere and
climate. The podcast team is made up of scientists working at the Centre for Atmospheric Science (CAS), who produce regular episodes on a wide range of informative and
discussing meteorological phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes, examining
public health issues such as air quality and pollution, or light-heartedly
debating the origins of weather folklore, each episode aims to enlighten and
educate in equal measure.
podcast episodes lean towards topical, as well as interesting, points of
discussion. With the help of several internationally renowned weather experts,
the team investigated the destructive power of hurricane Sandy in November 2012,
as well as the more recent Oklahoma tornadoes in May of this year.
more light-hearted features also utilise this approach of informing the
listener through well-articulated debate and discussion. For example, in the
latest episode, the Barometer team makes a bold forecast for the rest of the summer based upon some ancient weather folklore.
well as informative podcast episodes, the Barometer team also aims to promote
the cutting-edge research being done at the University of Manchester through
various outreach activities.
2011, as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the podcasters ran a live
interactive episode that involved panel discussion and demonstrations in front
of an adult studio audience, focusing on the differences between weather and climate.
2012, again as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the team designed a set
of interactive experiments geared towards school children that illustrated the
importance of science in our everyday lives. This work laid the foundation for
the National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) in March 2013, when over 850
local school children from years 5-9 visited the University of Manchester and
participated in experiments. The Barometer podcast set up an interactive stall,
demonstrating the basics of cloud formation using only a bottle of water and a
match! During their time at NSEW, several podcasters caught up with the pupils
to find out what they thought of the stall, and how they’d been inspired by what
they’d seen and learnt.
the coming months the Barometer podcast team has big plans to continue their
expansive outreach programme, with a third consecutive appearance at the
Manchester Science Festival already booked for autumn 2013. This will double
previous efforts and incorporate both an hour-long live episode on 29 October,
and an afternoon of interactive and engaging weather-related experiments on 2
the meantime, with the forthcoming 5th assessment report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the focus of the team will be
on climate change. A summary of the physical science basis of the report is
published on 27 September 2013, with an episode planned to discuss its findings
and implications. Tied in with this, several podcast members will be attending the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine conference on 26July, hoping to explore historical perspectives on climate change and discuss previous assessment reports of the IPCC with experts from a diverse range of disciplines. Podcasters will
interview these distinguished speakers, providing background and context before
the release of the next report.
fortnightly to monthly episodes will continue to cover interesting weather
events from across the globe and to explore the vagaries of weather folklore.
If there is a topic that you want covering or a weather myth that you want
busting, please let us know so that we can help out!
Links to other
Link to the latest episode or post
Archive of all episodes
Official Facebook page
Official Twitter account
Podcaster Will Morgan’s blog
The International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine runs from 22-26 July 2013. A timetable of the public events is available here