St Peter's Physicists

St Peter's Physicists

Helen Miller, former M.Phys. student:

"When I arrived at St. Peter's I knew I loved physics, but not which area in particular. The first three years gave me a great background in general physics, with tutors who were happy to explain the answers to my 'stupid questions' time and again - although I now know what they told me every single time - there are no stupid questions! I decided that it was experimental physics that I enjoyed the most. I was encouraged to go and explore the various areas, not just the tutors' own specialities. The tutors somehow managed to move tutorials around packed schedules to let me go to lectures on modules that ran at odd times of day - something some of my friends in other colleges were rather envious of! In my final year I took major options in condensed matter physics and biophysics, so I wasn't taught by my college tutors any more, but we still had chats to check I was doing ok and getting ready for my next steps.
I'm now at the University of York, studying for a PhD in biophysics - I build microscopes that let you beat the optical diffraction limit and localise fluorophores to about 15nm. Recently I've been working on locating dyes that bind between base pairs of DNA, and I'm hoping to combine this with a technique called magnetic tweezers so that I can twist the DNA (which happens in cells) and study the dynamics as the structure changes. By studying physics at St Peter's I gained not just a degree, but also the freedom, knowledge and confidence to pursue research in a field I hadn't even heard of when I started.”

Helen Miller

Catherine Jones, former M.Phys. student:

"I learned so much while I was at St Peter's and had great fun doing it. The friendly environment made it easy for all of the Physics students to work together to solve homework problems and study for exams, and the older students were always happy to answer any questions that we had. The tutors were well prepared for tutorials, and frequently spent more time with us than was required (something that I appreciate more now, because I know how busy they must have been). Most importantly, they made Physics fun and were always prepared to talk about what research they were doing. I think their encouragement is what inspired me to pursue a PhD myself.

I am currently a PhD candidate in Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California. I'm exploring the role of salinity in setting the strength of large scale ocean circulation. This basically involves running a computer model and doing lots of algebra! My background in Physics from St Peter's has prepared me well for both of these things, making it possible for me to work in a field that I love.”

Catherine Jones