Maria Weikum, Physics PhD student

Maria Weikum


Maria, from south-west Germany, arrived at Strathclyde in 2009 to study an undergraduate degree in Physics. She completed a five-year integrated Masters programme - which included a year studying in Canada - last year, before starting a three-year PhD in Physics in October. The PhD programme is a partnership between Strathclyde and DESY, a particle physics institute in Hamburg, Germany. Maria currently spends half her time in Glasgow and half in her home country.

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

I wanted to study abroad and Scotland offered me the possibility for free university education. Even though I had never been to Scotland before, I liked what I had heard and read about it, so I took my chances.
At Strathclyde, particularly, I was excited about its good location in Glasgow, but also about how friendly and welcoming the physics department was when making me an offer.

Why did you choose to study physics?

Since I was young, I've always wanted to be a researcher. I was particularly fascinated (and still am) at how this field combines the abstractness and beauty of mathematics with the possibility for real everyday life applications.
Apart from that, it is also a very versatile degree that helps you develop a lot of skills desirable for the job market.

Looking back at your undergraduate programme, what parts of the course did you most enjoy?

My favourite part of studying at Strathclyde has been the support available for students. We're encouraged to approach people, be it lecturers, staff within the department and university or the student community, to get help with any kind of academic or other problems. This has made me feel welcome at the university and has given me the confidence that they care that I finish my degree with the best results possible.

You spent a year at McMaster University near Toronto, what did you take from this experience?

My stay abroad was great and to get to know a different culture and attitude towards life was a very interesting experience. I was also able to take a number of exciting courses at McMaster that weren't available at Strathclyde.

In addition to Germany, your PhD studies involve further travel - where have your studies taken you to?

As a PhD student, it's quite common to attend workshops and conferences held in Europe or all over the world. During the first six months of my PhD, for example, I've already presented a poster at the Rutherford Appleton Lab near Oxford. This was very interesting.

What do you enjoy about living in Glasgow?

Glasgow is an exciting city. There's an abundance of bars, cafés and restaurants with a very lively music and art scene. It's all combined in such a compact way that almost everything is within walking distance.
For first year, I'd definitely recommend staying in university halls, if possible, as it's easy to meet fellow students this way.

What's been the best thing about coming to Glasgow to study?

For me, the atmosphere in the city and the University. It's a very friendly and international place with a variety of different communities, so there's always something new to explore and someone new to meet.