Reflections on the third year project

After 1,610 simulations and 14,916 words, my third year project on modelling metal foam formation in helium nanodroplets has finally been handed in, and from watching it develop from all the way back in October, I think I’m actually quite proud of it. It’s been an odd experience going from juggling several modules at once to increasingly focusing on one piece of work, until in the last six weeks every waking (and sleeping) moment is spent agonising over the smallest detail. I don’t know if other people found this, but for me I seemed to go through this cycle of knowing exactly what I was setting out to achieve and feeling full of confidence, to discovering something new or getting an unusual result that would just throw everything in disarray and almost redefine the focus of the project. As I got deeper into the research area, there were just so many more questions to investigate and alternative approaches to testing certain parameters. Towards the end of the project as I (foolishly) thought everything was tied up and I was beginning to add the final touches to my discussion, I encountered a particularly interesting result, which paved the way for some very fruitful research just days before the hand in date!

Overall I think I may have discovered several novel (and in a few cases quite significant) results for my particular system, providing of course they stand up to the scrutiny of the upcoming viva! Similar to a PhD thesis, both 3rd and 4th year natural sciences students have to defend their project for 30 minutes to their supervisor and another researcher in that area. It sounds like a nerve racking experience, but after thinking about nothing but helium nanodroplets for so long, part of me is just really eager to talk about everything I’ve done (my girlfriend appears to be getting tired of it..).

With the third year projects coming to end there’s not much time to celebrate this week however, as the inaugural employability symposium the Interdisciplinary Science Society has been planning for months is now just days away, and it’s starting to look like we might actually pull it off. Expect photos soon!

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About David

David has now graduated from the University of Leicester. I’m currently a fourth year natural sciences student on the Msci course, with the aim to go onto a PhD. I have a great interest in areas of research that cross more than one discipline, in particular astrobiology and computational chemistry, so I knew this course was what I was looking for. Outside of my course I’m pretty into amateur astronomy, running and will generally be at a piano any chance I get.

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