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Student View - Studying Physics at University

by YPU Admin on May 29, 2020, Comments. Tags: Physics, science, STEM, student view, and UoM

Introduction

My name is Yulia Yancheva and I am currently a third-year MPhys Physics student at the University of Manchester. The Physics course at UoM is a combination of theoretical and mathematics subjects, programming, and experimental laboratories.

How is Physics Different at Uni?

One of the main differences between university and high school is that at university, the degree is focused mainly on one topic, in my case Physics. This allows students to gain a lot of subject-specific knowledge in significant depth. For example, in Physics, we do not only learn different subjects, but we also learn how to think like physicists. This allows us to often know the answer to questions that we have not seen before just because we have enough knowledge of the basic physics laws in the world that surrounds us.

Another major difference between high school and university is that in university, students are mainly independent. This means that it is a personal choice for each student how to organise their time and make sure they are up to date with all new material. There are lectures, tutorials and workshops that help us to organise our time but we do not have a teacher who makes sure we have attended and learned the new material – it is our responsibility to do that! Everybody tries to keep up with all the new lessons because at the end of each semester we have exams where we can show what we have learned during the semester.

Physics at Manchester

I have studied a very diverse range of subjects during my university degree in Physics. For example, in my first year, I had a module on astrophysics and cosmology during which I learned about stars, planets, telescopes and the Universe in general. I also had a module on quantum physics and relativity, which was taught by Prof Brian Cox. During this module, I learned about time and space as scientific concepts as well as about black holes and even various scientific paradoxes.

Apart from the theoretical subjects, I also spend a lot of time in the experimental laboratory. For example, in my third year, I was working with graphene – this is a material that was discovered by Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. I spent four weeks in which I was investigating the electrical properties of graphene and I found the work very interesting and engaging – it felt like real research. Here is a photo of myself doing a task that was required for this experiment – I was handling ammonia and hence the safety goggles and the face mask.

At the University of Manchester, Physics students work in pairs in the laboratory. We also have lab demonstrators who introduce us to the experiments and help us if we get stuck. However, in third and fourth year, most of the time students work with their lab partners without the demonstrators being there all the time. This makes the lab experience unique – there is a lot of brainstorming going on between lab partners and it almost feels like solving a puzzle.

Going Further...


 

Student View - Engineering is for Everyone

by YPU Admin on May 28, 2020, Comments. Tags: Engineering, materials, materials science, science, STEM, and student view

Introduction

My name is Gabriele and I was born and raised in the marvellous lands of Lithuania, but for the past 2 years I have been living in the UK. I am a second year Materials Science and Engineering student at The University of Manchester. Many people ask me what Materials Engineering is and why I choose this subject. Well, I have always enjoyed Physics, Chemistry and Maths and I was searching for a course combining all of them. Until, nanotechnologies and graphene popped into my radar and without a second thought, I applied to the university where graphene was found. As a teenager, I was always striving for challenges so studying a course with so many different fields (biomaterials, tissue engineering, polymers, alloys, ceramics) was exactly what I was looking for.

Why I Like Being an Engineer

Engineering is the most male-dominated field in STEM; therefore, whenever I tell people my degree, I receive stereotypical questions about being a female in engineering. Engineering captivates me as I am in lectures with world-class researchers and this inspires me to improve personally, contribute to society using tools of engineering and make a difference. Being so interested in the academic world, I asked my favourite lecturer if I could do a summer project in his team. After my first year at university, I got an internship at Manchester Institute of Biotechnology where I conducted research on self-healing polymers, made from oxidised lactose.

Imagine getting a one-page long description of an experiment, where no measurements, concentrations, catalysts are given and you have to make a final product, which in theory, when pressure is applied, should be able to recover the tears. I was working with extremely time-consuming and expensive products and every small mistake could cost a lot of money but because of my hard work, the results of this extremely challenging project surprised the PhD students and raised eyebrows of post-doctorates. No one expected the first-year university student to succeed and be able to contribute to the academic paper – but I did it!

Why I Joined a Society

Universities are famous for their range of different societies. As I was interested in Aeronautical Engineering, I joined Flight Simulation society where I soon became a part of the committee. During my time here I expanded my knowledge by designing my own aircraft with some help from Aerospace Engineering students and in my second year in the society, me and my teammate (we were the ‘strangest’ team, as I was the only female participating and he is a first-year student) designed a vertical take-off and landing aircraft and were chosen to represent the university at an aircraft designing and handling competition in the United States of America.

It is such an amazing feeling to be surrounded by like-minded people who are passionate about their field of studies and it has encouraged me to learn more and participate in discussions about new concepts. In the beginning, it was difficult to be a part of this society as I had no knowledge how an aircraft works, but slowly I became equal to all other members and involved in socials and events. This year, I taught first-year members how to use flight simulators, shared my experience about ‘living conditions’ in the simulator room and got to fly my aircraft in it with the full motion power – I felt like I was a real-life pilot!

What Lies Ahead?

During my second year at university I found out that Rolls Royce together with Target Jobs were conducting a competition for Female Undergraduate of the Year. Over 800 applications were sent and only 20 students were invited to attend an assessment centre in Rolls Royce. Proudly, I can say that I was one of those females. They were 2 amazing days, filled with networking, getting to know the company and finding out possibilities for after I graduate. One of Rolls Royce’s goals is to have more senior female engineers and attract them to the engineering world. This company conducts a wide range of projects where you can put yourself in a position of a real engineer and what it feels like working there and I really saw myself undertaking the challenges in a world-leading company and who knows – maybe in a couple of years I will go back there and lead a group of apprentices into the engineering world.

I cannot imagine studying another subject. Engineering intrigues me every day with new technologies, new materials being invented, and it gives me many different opportunities to improve.

Read more about engineering here:


 

Student View – Is Computer Science for You?

Introduction

My name is Gladys. I am doing my Master’s in Advanced Computer Science at the University of Manchester. Growing up watching movies portraying how scientists achieved some of their missions using various intelligent computer applications made me fond of computer-related courses. That's why I did a BSc degree in Computer Engineering. As the world is now technologically based and computing is the foundation of so many advancements happening in this digital era; my passion for computer science has been enhanced.

If someone asks me why I wanted to study Computer Science at the University of Manchester; my answer would be that I wanted to study this course at one of the best Universities in the UK and the world. With enough lecturers who know their area of interest intensely, it has led to the production of graduates/experts who are doing well in the computing industry hence inspiring new applicants like me, to opt for UoM.

Why You Should Study Computer Science

Everyone at one point wants to be a problem solver and the most important aspect of computer science is problem-solving! Most successful businessmen such as Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), the late Steve Jobs (founder of Apple), and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of  Facebook) are from the computer science industry. As a computer science student, you will study the design, development, and analysis of software and hardware used to solve problems in a variety of business, scientific, and social contexts.

Here's some reasons why I think Computer Science is such an important degree:

  • Computing and computer technology are part of just about everything that touches our lives from the cars we drive, the movies we watch, to the ways businesses and governments deal with us.
  • Computing enables you to make the difference in the world as it drives innovation in sciences from impacting the health industry, automation of the majority of business processes, and enhancing our social life just to name few.
  • Computing jobs are among the highest-paid and have the highest job satisfaction.

Why Manchester?

The University of Manchester is the best place to highly consider as it has state-of-the-art computer laboratories, experienced lecturers who provide constant support whenever you need it, big libraries with about 4 million books, the list goes on! UoM is home to great scientists who transformed the computing industry. Alan Turing, the pioneer of modern computing and a great Mathematician; and Thomas Kilburn, who invented the world's first electronic stored-program computer also known as "Manchester Baby". To honor them, the Computer Science building is named after Kilburn and the school of Mathematics building is named after Turing.

The computer science modules at all years of study are interesting and very engaging preparing you for a prosperous career, with room for modifications/improvements to keep up with the industry demand. I am confident in saying that this course has everything one would wish for in this computing industry. There’s room to learn modules such as software engineering where you will learn various programming languages such as python and java; machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, etc. and you can do modules from other courses too in order to strengthen your knowledge base.

The career path for computer science students is smooth as there is a huge increase in demand for computer science professionals all over the world. Some popular jobs are data scientists, software engineers (programmers and developers), cybersecurity specialists, game designers and developers, IT consultants, information system auditors, machine learning and artificial intelligence experts and so many other opportunities.

The Alan Turing Building on UoM Campus

Is Computer Science for Me? 

This is the one question most of you desire to get answers when you are faced with several options especially when it comes to University and degree selection. It is not necessary to be certain about what specialty in computer science you would like to follow. Just have some passion for technology and you will find yourself in the richness of this beautiful computing world. 

Keep calm and join computer science. The current and the future is digital!

To learn more about Computer Science at UoM, please visit: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00560/bsc-computer-science/entry-requirements/ 

For more information about Computer Science careers visit: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/computer-science


 

Exploring Endometriosis

by YPU Admin on December 13, 2019, Comments. Tags: biology, BMH, endometriosis, Health, medicine, pharmacology, PhD, and science

Introduction

My name is Jessica Traynor and I am a second year PhD student at the University of Manchester. My research is based on producing a localised drug delivery system for people suffering from endometriosis. Endometriosis is a common gynaecological condition that affects roughly 10% of women at reproductive age. Endometriosis occurs when lesions grow outside of the uterus. These lesions can cause painful periods, pelvic pain and fatigue. Although this disease is common, the treatment options are still limited. Women are most likely to be given anti-inflammatory drugs, hormone-based therapies (such as the pill or the coil) or undergo surgery to remove the lesions. These treatment options are not ideal, especially surgery, as there is a high chance the lesions will grow back.

My lab work is trying to find a way to deliver old and new drugs directly onto the lesions. This will hopefully stop the lesions from growing as well as reduce the side effects of these drugs!

In depth

My initial interest in pharmacology (the study of drugs) began in sixth form. I knew that I was interested in science in general during my GCSEs, so I picked biology, chemistry, physics and maths. I realised that although Biology wasn’t my strongest subject, I found it the most interesting, especially topics surrounding the human body and disease. I decided to look into biomedical sciences for University, which I soon realised included a lot of other topics, such as genetics, biochemistry and immunology. When I looked at the list, I found pharmacology the most interesting subject as I wanted to learn more about the production of drugs and treating diseases. I chose to study pharmacology at Newcastle University.

In my final year at Newcastle I started my research project, which was based on lithium action within the brain and how this can help treat bipolar disorder. This made me realise that I loved the research environment; I loved researching a topic where the answer was unknown.

Overall, my degree taught me a lot of research techniques that can be brought into any research environment, of course, not all labs are the same but University provided me with the confidence to learn and master techniques that I’d never seen before!

I graduated from Newcastle in 2017 with a first class degree in Pharmacology, and if I’m truly honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do next! I knew I wanted to carry on in research, but I wasn’t certain on where or on what topic. I spent the year researching PhD topics whilst working within an NHS virology lab as a research assistant. I found this PhD online and thought it was right up my street! Not only was it a PhD based on drug design/delivery but it was also based around an under-researched disease that affects so many women. I had a skype interview with the supervisors and then was put forward for funding!

My lab group consists of people from different backgrounds, whether that is pharmacology, cancer research or pharmacy. We all work alongside other groups to gain a better understanding of disease and its treatment. We all use a variety of different techniques throughout our research, so every day is different. Personally, I find my day is split between lab work, writing papers/reviews, planning future studies and teaching!

After my PhD, I don’t have a set plan on what I want to do next! My opinions may change throughout the years and I could learn new skills that change my perception on what I want my career to be!

Going Further

If you want to find out more about endometriosis and its effects on women, the BBC have recently produced a popular article explaining what endometriosis is and the idea of the ‘gender pain gap’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/stories-49925760/endometriosis-the-condition-that-can-take-over-seven-years-to-diagnose)

To learn more about the research that is happening in my faculty: (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/)

If you want more information about Biomedical Sciences/Pharmacology you can find that here (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00532/bsc-biomedical-sciences/) and here (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/pharmacology)

Something that sparked my interest in the treatment of disease was a podcast that talks about medical history, you can give it a listen if you’re interested, too! (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/


 

Biomedical Materials: my research into bone regeneration

by YPU Admin on November 15, 2019, Comments. Tags: biomedical materials, material science, PhD, science, and STEM

Introduction

Hi, my name is Negin Kamyar and I am a 2nd year PhD student at University of Manchester. I am doing my PhD in Biomedical materials and I am a part of Bio-Active Materials group headed by Dr. Jonny Blaker.

So, about my background - I did my bachelor’s in biomedical engineering in Azad Tehran University. During my bachelor’s, I worked on fabrication of skin patches for wound healing. As I was getting to know my research interest more and more in the biomedical field, I became more passionate to discover new things in my field. To further progress and improve in my field, I decided to apply to University of Manchester to study my Master’s. I successfully got accepted to study Biomaterials at University of Manchester and I graduated with distinction. During my master’s project I worked on the fabrication of three-dimensional (3-D) materials composed of polymers and two-dimensional (2-D) materials for bone regeneration. Since I was very excited about my master’s project, I decided to start my PhD in Biomedical Material and continue my research with more passion and time. My research is focused on the fabrication of 3-D bone implants which can be degraded over time so that the body’s new tissue can replace the degraded implant. These materials can be used for bone fractures and patients with osteoporosis.

So far, my PhD has been great. I published one paper in the ACS applied nanomaterials journal and I also presented my work to one of the biggest world conferences “Material Research Society (MRS)” in Boston. Participation in this conference gave me the chance to meet a lot of researchers around the world and learn new things in my field and share my research with them. I am looking forward to new achievements and opportunities during my PhD research.

In Depth…

When I was a child, I was always very keen on studying medicine in the future due to having a strong feeling and passion for helping people’s lives. My main inspiration in my life was my family who have always supported me to follow my dreams, since I was a child, and still support me today. While studying at school I was very enthusiastic about biomedical science and my parents bought me many science related books which helped me to be sure that it was what I wanted to do. I remember, when I was in the final year of high school, I met one of our family friends, who was doing research on heart stents and I had very long conversation with her about this field. After that day, I started reading more about the different applications of biomedical devices and I became more and more interested in inventing biomedical devices to improve humans’ lives. So, my dream towards medicine always stayed in my mind, but its direction changed to a more interesting and challenging field for me as biomedical engineer. During my bachelor’s, I worked on the fabrication of skin patches for wound healing and I presented my work in an international conference in Poland. One year after getting my bachelor’s degree, I successfully collaborated in publishing an academic book in Persian called “Nanomaterial in Biomedical Engineering” with my supervisor. During my master’s at Manchester University, I found I was more interested in the topic of bone implants because of current challenges in this field. In my master’s project, I worked on the fabrication of a 3-D fibre-based scaffold for potential bone regeneration which could be degraded over time.

Since I was fascinated by my Master’s project, I decided to continue the topic for my PhD. So, I am currently a second year PhD student and absolutely love my research with all its challenges and adventures. My project is a multidisciplinary topic which focuses on the fabrication of tissue scaffolds with different techniques. These scaffolds are 3-D structures which are composed of polymers and two-dimensional materials which can mimic the natural bone’s tissue. These 3-D scaffolds are integrated with biological factors and cells to mimic the physiological environment. In the physiological environment, these scaffolds can degrade over time and stimulate the formation of new tissue. The main aim of this research is finding a new way to help patients who are suffering from bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Now, I am almost midway through my PhD and I still absolutely love my research. I find every day challenging and adventurous for myself. I definitely can say that research is an unlimited area, that every day I learn and discover new things in my field. Beside doing my research, I also help other bachelor’s and master’s students in the lab with their projects which makes me feel more excited about continuing my own research in my field to a higher level. I have to say that that I am very thankful to all my parents’ support that gave me lots of opportunity to experience an amazing adventure in my life.

Figure 1 3-D scaffold for bone regeneration.

Going Further…

If you are interested in reading my paper, please visit the website: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsanm.8b00938?af=R

If you are interest in finding more information about the biomaterial and our group, please visit the websites: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/jonny.blaker.html and https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/david.lewis-4.html

If you are interested in perusing Materials sciences, please visit the website: http://www.materials.manchester.ac.uk/

We also have a school blog which details life as a materials student and interviews a range of students and lecturers: http://www.mub.eps.manchester.ac.uk/uommaterialsblog/