2008 Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate student Nick Wardle

"I would certainly recommend an undergraduate who is thinking about post-graduate study to undertake a research project of this type to get a feel for what new research within a group is like and gain the skills necessary to continue a research career in physics."

Dr K Phillips, Nick Wardle, Dr C Foullon, Dom Walton, Paul Prior & Dr S Grimald in front of MSSL

In 2008, Nicholas Wardle worked with Dr Claire Foullon in the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at UCL. A student at the University of Warwick at the time, Nick was involved in a project which looked at the heliospheric current sheet (a layer betweeen outward directed and inward directed open magnetic fields), and whether multiple crossings of the HCS are caused by waves on the current sheet surface, or by multiple current sheets embedded in the structure. Nick used multi-point in situ measurements, from the new STEREO mission and other spacecraft such as Cluster.

Speaking to Dr Foullon, she explained:

“The main reason why I was keen to find opportunities to supervise summer students is that I like to share my knowledge and to encourage interactions. I had several positive experiences myself being involved in projects as an undergraduate, and this was a sort of favour that I wanted to return to society, passing the knowledge and experience to the next generation. Motivated also to have a well focused project for the student's individual development and performance, I made sure the project would lead to significant and timely scientific results. At the same time, I was able to increase my experience in supervising and the manpower to accomplish the project.”

“The project has prompted interactions within and outside the group and has brought together a number of international collaborations. Overall, this Bursary proved particularly valuable to establish a new and timely research direction in the group. The results have been presented at national and international meetings and are now published in the STEREO special issue of Solar Physics."

Nick is now studying for a PhD at Imperial College London and, looking back on his experiences, said: “I would say that the chance to work with new data and gain experience with modern areas of research in physics during my undergraduate degree assisted my decision to take my studies further to PhD level. I believe that the experience I gained from MSSL boosted my strength as a potential candidate for acceptance onto the course.”