URSS Diaries #4
After four weeks of doing my project, I am officially half way through! It’s been a cracking few weeks, so I thought I would do a short round-up of my favourite parts so far!
Since my project is in the astrophysics group, I expected it to include a hefty element of programming. However, I didn’t realise just how much about programming and computer science I would learn. I have worked on my Python coding skills to build and adapt scripts (Python is a common language used in the sciences). Along with this I also have learnt how to use command line programming, which I found very exciting. This is a way of using a computer by bypassing the graphical interface, like the icons and drop down menus. It enables the user to utilise more of the computer, can be much quicker and it makes you look really cool too!
I haven’t studied statistics since college so my knowledge is very limited. I didn’t expect to use it a lot, but in fact it has been really important. Since astrophysics involves creating models to match observational results, researchers need to be able to estimate the errors in the model and see how well the model “fits” the data. This is done with various sophisticated statistical models and has been very interesting to learn more about.
The style of working/learning in doing research has been quite refreshing. During term 3 I got used to a routine of reading, past papers and more reading, and so having flexibility and independence during my project has been a nice change. At times it has been hard to motivate myself, but at the end of the day I am doing something very exciting and interesting so it definitely worth it!
4. Meeting new people
The URSS drop-in session I attended a couple of weeks ago was a great opportunity to meet other undergraduate researchers. The physics department also run a similar event, with the first happening this week. It involved pizza (win) and some students presenting their research and I really enjoyed it, especially the pizza and snacks. Oh, and the physics of course!