2014 Summer Vacation Studentships

There are a number of opportunities to study within the group in the summer vacation. They provide an excellent way to experience academic research. There are currently no openings for summer vacation studentships but please keep checking back in the new academic year for more information. In the past, we have also typically offered one place through the IAESTE international exchange scheme, but we are unfortunately unable to do in 2014.

Click below to read some personal accounts of students who have taken part in previous studentships.

Yi Xue Chong (2013)

Christina Raith (2012)

Jon White (2006)

Ash Matadeen (2004)

Nathan Laurie (2003)

Contact: Elizabeth Blackburn for further details of the available studentships.

Details of past summer placements can be found here.


In 2013, we hosted two summer students, both from the University of Birmingham:

Yi Xue Chong

Chong built and tested an experiment to measure resistivity and heat capacity simultaneously on a copper coil, for use in a 3rd year undergraduate lab. Chong's description of his project is available here.

Matthew Hunt

Matthew looked at samples of fd virus, an example of a liquid crystal, using a high speed camera to monitor changes in the sample as a function of magnetic field.

The purpose of the experiment was to examine how rod shaped fd virus molecules suspended in a aqueous solution behave under magnetic fields of various strengths. To examine how the molecules behave known optical properties of liquid crystal structures can be used. A normal isotropic fluid has the same refractive index from whatever direction you observe it. This means by placing polarisers at right angles to each other on either side of the fluid and shining a light through them, the fluid will appear black. A liquid crystal structure is anisotropic and will affect the polarisation of light shinned through it, in the case of fd virus the direction the light wave is incident on a molecule will give a different refractive index. Through the analyser (second polariser) an observer is now able to see the liquid crystal as a colour/colours which is a collaboration of all wavelengths which arenít blocked by the analyser.

Fd virus is also diamagnetic, magnetic dipoles are induced under the application of a magnetic field. It becomes more energy efficient for the molecules to align with the magnetic field in order to decrease distortion to the magnetic flux. Since the orientation of the molecules will determine how the incident light is affected, the effect of the magnetic field should be visible through the analyser.

By taking images of the sample through the analyser at fixed time intervals within a variety of strength magnetic field, and then writing programs which deduce how the colours change in the image it can be analytically determined how the sample behaves. A functional form can be attributed to the data which shows how the sample changes and under what timescale.

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