Learning from the students

Today was the day our MPhys students give their talks, saying what they did on their Research Years. All our MPhys students spend a year doing research near the end of their 4-year course.

I learnt something from all 4 talks I attended, and I was very impressed. They had all done very good work and the presentation skills were impressive. I wish I had given talks like that when I was that age. It seems like yesterday they were quiet first years, now they giving talks, even wearing ties. They did the work and should take 95% of the credit, but I can’t help think that the Department must be doing something right.

I learnt that the plastic transistors people want to use to make 3D tvs etc don’t work well when damp. Water vapour can harm them, so waterproof coatings are in order. I also learnt what brachytherapy is. It is a type of radiotherapy used to treat cancer where a very small radioactive source is actually placed inside the body – right at the tumour where it can do most good. Paddy Regan, the academic who runs the Research Year knew that but it was new to me.

Another of our students used the fact that you can build precise structures out of Lego(TM) to test MRI scanners. The MRI scanners used in hospitals suffer from distortion as the magnetic fields they rely on are never as uniform as you would want, but she showed how you can use a CT scanner to calibrate a MRI scanner. A really nice useful idea. Better scanning means better patient diagnosis and if I have indirectly contributed to that then I’m quite proud.