I have always had a keen interest in science and finding an answer for why something works the way it does, whether that be a tangible and obvious phenomenon such as water drops running down a window-pane or an 'invisible' and less apparent phenomenon such as quantum physics.
I’ve always been that annoying person that wants to know: “but why?”. In high school I would pester my teachers to no end so that I could satisfactorily understand a tricky concept.
I decided that I wanted to pursue science as a career after spending two weeks at Cambridge University in Year 10 on a Summer Programmes scholarship, which opened my eyes to how fascinating university science is.
The Dalyell Scholars Program is a great opportunity to experience the research side of the university whilst you are still an undergraduate. It’s like a taste-test for research, in the way that you can see what research is like before committing to it for an extended amount of time (such as honours or further research projects).
In this program you might also have the chance to meet and build relationships with academic staff and postgraduate students, which is a rare opportunity. I have really enjoyed and appreciated the valuable experiences that I have learnt through participating in research projects within this program.
As a science student, you’ll be at uni all day, but you’ll be learning so many interesting things in lectures, labs and tutorials. It’s good to have lectures in the morning when you’re ready to learn, and labs are a great way to spend the afternoon since you have the opportunity to get your hands dirty (only if the chemcials are safe, otherwise you’ll be wearing gloves and keeping them nice and clean!) and make great friends in the process.
The most surprising thing about my degree is the flexibility that it has provided me to pursue what interests me most. I didn’t expect to be able to partake in so many exciting research opportunities as part of the Talented Student Program, and I didn’t expect to be able to share my passions with other students in the School of Physics as a paid demonstrator whilst still an undergraduate either!
I took Italian units in my first year as well, since I had an elective and wanted to branch out – the degree is very flexible and you can pursue your own interests and create your own path through that.
After I finish my coursework, I will enrol in an honours project with the School of Chemistry. I’m looking forward to being involved with a longer research project than what I’ve done so far. If that suits me, I’ll do a further qualification like a PhD, and then I’ll see where that takes me after uni. Maybe I’ll stay doing research at uni, maybe I’ll work for a private industry, maybe I will retrain as a teacher, maybe I will do a combination of these things or maybe something completely different. In any case, I want to work somewhere where I can use the knowledge that I’ve gained from my degree to help and inspire others and improve the way that we live.
Go for it! Science is a wonderful degree with fascinating content, fantastic people and fabulous opportunities. Not only will you learn about the intriguingly intricate way the world works, you’ll be taught how to think critically, carefully and curiously – like a true scientist!