One of the challenges of being a PhD student in the UK is the experience of the transfer viva

But, what is a transfer viva? Is an oral exam where the student has to answer questions about the work they have been doing for 10 months since the beginning of the PhD. This represents an important step in this journey because the outcome of this determines whether you can continue or not in the program. I am very happy to say that I passed my transfer viva and officially I am a 2nd  year PhD student at the University of Leeds.

Moreover, before the end of  last year, I attended two interesting workshops that took place in ESAC, Spain.  One was the Third ASTERICS School, the focus for this was The Virtual Observatory (VO). In this, I learned about how to use different astrophysics tools, such as Topcat, Aladin, VOSA, etc.; and apply the knowledge in a scientific case. The ESAC DATA ANALYSIS & STATISTICS workshop was the second one I attended, where I learned about fundamental topics in statistics and data analysis from a group of experts in the field.

Finally, I helped my English advisor to create a short video presentation about the need for writing skills when doing research. This will be used in the near future as material for a course given by the Language centre of the University of Leeds. Also, I had the opportunity to show physics demos to groups of kids and the general public in the IOP outreach event, Stargazing Live 2018.

Every day is a new experience in the life of a PhD student.

A new year begins

A new year of ideas and expectatives begins while we are still gathering the results produced at the end of 2017. Rene Oudmaijer, my PhD main supervisor, came to visit ESAC at the end of December what resulted in a few days of intense hands-on work. Together we finished outlining the first segment of the project and planned for the future. Now the next milestone is Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2), planned for the second half of April, when we will face the new technical difficulties arising from a new catalogue. Therefore, the more we can do beforehand the better.

Shortly before Rene’s visit I attended, together with Alice, the ESAC Data Analysis and Statistics Workshop. We learnt a lot about Bayesian Statistics, Machine Learning and Python programming in statistics. The idea is to implement the new knowledge to the project as soon as possible, as it will be of the utmost importance in order to describe the results that will be obtained with DR2.

It is quite important to have an impact on the community. Hence, this January I presented the work I did during my first year of PhD at the Journal Club of the Astrobiology Center in Madrid. We plan to go to the Olympian Symposium in Greece at the end of May and, once in the deep Spanish summer, we will go to the national Spanish astronomy meeting in Salamanca.

Nonetheless, the event that made me happier was the public talk I gave about star formation at the Isabel the España college residence. It was heart-warming to see the reaction of the general public and the interest aroused.