Rose Waugh

The Magnetic Fields of Low Mass Stars
University of St Andrews
Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?
I’m a final year PhD student, my project is focussed on modelling stars similar to what the sun would have been like in its youth (though I have also done some work on smaller stars too). I model where massive stellar clouds (“prominences”) could form around these stars with the aim of understanding better the magnetic fields of these stars. Stellar magnetic fields are incredibly important as they’re responsible and related to the activity of the star, and how the star will evolve over its life. It is also important in terms of determining if any orbiting planets might be habitable!

What does a typical day or week look like for you?

Currently, with the new normal of lockdown, things are a little strange as I’m at home all day balancing work with caring for my 1 year old. But even outside of lockdown I would often have worked from home because my work is computational – which I’m very glad gives me the opportunity to complete my work from anywhere! I am usually up about 6, thanks to the little one, but I don’t typically get much work done until 10. Work is sporadic, but I enjoy that my PhD gives me the freedom to fit work around other aspects of my life. I don’t have too many meetings to attend – I have one scheduled in with my supervisor each week, and a group meeting too, but mostly everything else varies from week to week! I try to set myself 1 task to do each day. Even slow progress is still progress!

What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?
Learning that a PhD isn’t just about research there are many opportunities to get involved in eg outreach, teaching, EDI work, societies…

What’s been the most challenging part of it?
When things get tough, there is no answer! Your PhD is new work and there’s no one else to show you the answer. People will try to help of course, but your project is your responsibility and whilst most of the time that is fantastic, it can also be the hard part!

Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
I would like to still be contributing to science. I’d like to go on to do a postdoc, but also continue contributing to the EDI aspect of academia, I think that’s as important a contribution as the research itself.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
It’s important to consider many things when picking your phd – don’t just go for the best ever project. That won’t be enough to get you through if you don’t like the school, don’t get on with your supervisor, feel alone as the only person from a minority background in a department or simply hate the city. There is more to it than the project itself!

What makes your university a good place to study?

St. Andrews is very unique. It’s a town with about 3 streets, not a massive city. It doesn’t have any nightclubs. I love it because it’s small that it can feel like a family as we are a pretty close knit community. I love that it’s easy to escape into the wilderness, as the Scottish highlands aren’t too far away, but equally it’s not that far from Edinburgh if you really wanted a city moment!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Right now I spend most of it with family, but when I get a moment to myself I also love to read, play computer games and go walking. I also spend a lot of time on science outreach, which sometimes feels like work but also sometimes like a hobby (as I enjoy combining science with art). I’m also currently learning Spanish!

Want to know more about Rose?
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