Student profile: Louisa Mason, first year Physics with Astrophysics
Student experience 13th August 2020
Louisa is studying Physics with Astrophysics – she’s just completed first year. She told us about her favourite area of astrophysics, why she loves the library, and where to get the best coffee on campus…
Why did you choose Physics, and why did you choose Manchester?
I have always wanted to study Physics from a young age, since becoming interested in astronomy and watching documentaries. Manchester is one of the leading physics departments, and I have always loved visiting Jodrell Bank (the observatory linked with the University of Manchester). It is also close to where I live, so I am able to live at home whilst studying!
What’s been the best (and the worst!) thing about your degree?
Best: Studying from and working with leading lecturers and physicists on campus. Especially for the astrophysics department, many of your lecturers and tutors have made definitive research in areas such as Pulsars, Cosmology and Radio Astronomy.
Worst: Electronic Modules in Labs – I’ve never been the best experimental scientist, but my abilities in logic and circuit building are definitely not my strong suit! Despite this, me and my lab partner passed both electronics modules with a muddle-through-and-hope-not-to-blow-anything-up approach!
What are your plans after uni?
I want to continue to study, hopefully taking a PhD. I hope to become a lecturer in astrophysics, so a lot more physics studying to go!
What area of physics are you most interested in?
Astrophysics is the area of physics that most excited me, in particular pulsars. I think it’s very interesting that you can use pulsars as evidence for Einstein’s General Relativity and potentially they could be used to detect gravitational waves. So relativistic astrophysics is of particular interest to me!
What’s been your experience of labs?
I have been pleasantly surprised by labs at uni! During my A-levels, I wasn’t the greatest at lab work and uncertainties seemed impossible to understand. However, since starting at university, I have loved my lab work (especially any astro lab modules). We have learnt to code (very basically) in Python, as well as a better understanding of uncertainties and how to conduct good science experiments (instead of just getting good results).
What’s your favourite place on campus?
The library, because I am a book worm! I love bringing physics books home, even if I only understand a chapter of it, because I feel like I’m broadening my knowledge. But I don’t spend enough time in the library. My second favourite place is the coffee shop (the best is called Benugo in Simon Building), where you can find me most frees with friends and a piece of cake, working through my tutorials and discussing the world!
What do you wish you’d known going into first year?
Not everyone taking physics is perfect. It really stressed me out coming into my first year, worrying that everyone would be smarter and that I should know all the answers in physics. But the first year of university is the most exciting (and sometimes most stressful) time – enjoy the challenge and experience, you wouldn’t be choosing physics if you weren’t up to it!