The University of Southampton

Amy Knight MPhys in Physics and Astronomy

Physicist of the Year Award Winner and Ogden Trust Scholarship Awardee

My journey to studying Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton started in 2013.

I was in year 10 at Brighton Hill Community School, when my teacher nominated me for the Ogden Trust Schools Physicist of the Year award - which amazingly, I won!


Physics Award Winner 
I was presented my award by Dr Stacie Powell, Southampton alumni. Stacie also competed in the 2012 Olympics in the 10m diving event and I found both receiving this award and meeting Stacie very inspiring. It was at this point that I decided I wanted to do Physics at Southampton. I also really liked the fact it was so close to home, and I knew it had a really good reputation for Physics.

Summer Experiences
In order to achieve my dream of studying a Physics degree at Southampton I chose to study Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Music at A-level. It wasn’t till the summer before my undergraduate started that I also discovered an interest in Astronomy. In between doing designs for my custom guitar design company ‘Harkenshield Customs’, which I had just set up. I also found time to watch a lot of astronomy documentaries on TV!

I decided to study MPhys Physics with Astronomy. Because I had chosen a top Russell Group University and had previously been awarded the 'Physicist of the Year' prize, this meant that I was eligible to apply for a means-tested Ogden Trust Scholarship worth £1,500 to help fund my undergraduate studies for up to four years.

At the end of my first year, during the second semester exams I started to pester one of the new astronomy lecturers, Dr Mike Childress as I knew I wanted to stay here during the summer and do some astronomy research. Finally Mike agreed that I could do a research project with him on the high velocity features in Type Ia Supernova. I ended up working on this for 16 weeks during the summer break, even though I originally was only meant to work for 10 weeks! I am currently writing up this work on using high velocity features of Type Ia Supernovae, obtained from their optical spectra, to work out the distance to supernovae, as a research paper and I expect to submit to an astronomy journal MNRAS by March 2017.

Competing in International Competitions
This summer I have also been competing in Power-Cross competitions. I started this sport when I was in year 12, it is basically a mixture of everything, it includes two long distance events (a run and a swim) and three strength events, which can be anything, for example, clean and jerk, snatch etc. I work with a trainer for six months during the season. I won my latest competition and as a result of my victory, I was invited to take on further training, so that I could compete in more advanced international competitions. However, I love Physics and Astronomy too much and I don’t want to pause my degree at this exciting time, so I have turned down this opportunity, so I can complete my Physics degree.

My Future
I am very excited about the second year of my undergraduate degree, specifically looking forward to the Tenerife field trip, where I will get to work with research grade telescopes for a whole week. I am also getting into Cross Fit, which is a step-up from Power-Cross. This includes even more strength exercises and I hope to start competing soon.

Finally, I am already thinking about doing a PhD in Astronomy research; I really like the sound of the ones here at Southampton.