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Spotlight: Laura Martin, Master's Student in Astrophysics at Liverpool John Moores University

Updated: Oct 7


Tell us a fun fact about yourself


I like to do a bit of amateur photography, particularly landscapes. I tend to go visiting Scottish islands when I can, as they have amazing landscapes. Barra has been my favourite place so far.


Tell us about your career journey so far


I went to university to study maths for my undergraduate degree. After finishing, I made a subject change to astronomy and undertook a postgraduate diploma. I'd barely done any astronomy or physics study before, so it was all new to me. I've now graduated and started doing a master's degree in astrophysics, via distance learning. Alongside my studies, I volunteer for the UK's national student space society (UKSEDS), in which I help with SpaceCareers.uk; a careers website for young people (and early career people) about careers and pathways into the space sector.


What was your favourite subject in school and why?


Maths because I loved to solve problems. Plus, I had a fantastic teacher who was really encouraging and made it fun!


What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?


Physics and maths subjects are top of the list. Depending on your interests, studying other sciences, such as chemistry and biology, and computing studies/sciences can be useful too. There's a lot of different specialisations within astronomy research.


What is your favourite thing about your job?


As a student, I'm still learning about a wide variety of topics. For each class, I'm always doing something different, whether that's studying planets or stellar physics or cosmology. So right now, it feels like I get to do a bit of everything!


What is a normal day in your role like?


My days vary depending on the classes I'm studying at the time. I can go from researching about exoplanets to working with telescope image data of a supernova explosion. I've also started my master's research project, so currently I'm working on an observing programme for time on the Liverpool Telescope; a fully-robotic telescope located on La Palma in the Canary Islands. I'll be observing a variable object, an object which is seen to change over time, like a variable star. There's always something new and super interesting to do.


Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?


The National Schools Observatory, which gives pupils access to the Liverpool Telescope to carry out their own observations, provides lots of exciting resources on their website. Activities range from 'hunting for asteroids' using telescope data files, to 'quick activities' such as how to calculate your weight on another planet! https://www.schoolsobservatory.org/


Also, UKSEDS outreach activities, for example, making paper rockets and designing a Lunar base, are available online at https://ukseds.org/aurora/?p=outreach




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Tel: 01383 626070

Email: sae@sserc.scot

Address: 2 Pitreavie Court, Dunfermline, KY11 8UU

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The UK-wide STEM Ambassador programme is managed by STEM Learning Limited, which operates the National STEM Learning Network, alongside other projects supporting STEM education. To find out more please go to the STEM Learning website