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Otago Physics student gains prestigious scholarship to pursue Cambridge PhD


Monday 11 November 2013 3:25pm

A top University of Otago Physics student has gained a prestigious international PhD scholarship to pursue his studies at the University of Cambridge.

Edward Linscott, who recently completed a BSc (Hons) in Physics, has been awarded a Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial Scholarship to further his research into the often bizarre behaviour of condensed matter systems.

Edward-LinscottEdward Linscott

Successful applicants receive a living allowance of approximately £11,000 per annum, for up to a maximum of three years. The Scholarship also covers their PhD course and college fees over this period. In addition, they will be eligible for one return airfare between the United Kingdom and New Zealand each year.

Edward plans to join the Theory of Condensed Matter Research Group of Cambridge’s world-renowned Cavendish Laboratory.

He says he is excited to be following in the steps of Lord Ernest Rutherford, who himself undertook doctoral study at the Laboratory, of which he later became Director.

“The opportunity to study with world-leading researchers at Cambridge is a dream come true,” he says. At Otago, Edward was a student in the Jack Dodd Centre for Quantum Technology with his honours project supervised by Associate Professor Blair Blakie.

The project involved investigating the behaviour of ultra-cold gases called “Bose-Einstein condensates” (BECs), a form of matter first experimentally created in 1995. Within the space of three years, Otago Department of Physics researchers became the first group in the Southern Hemisphere to replicate this feat.

Experimentalists can contain and manipulate BECs very precisely, providing the opportunity to study a vast range of fundamental phenomena in a clean and highly controlled environment. Furthermore, BECs exhibit many interesting properties such as superconductivity and superfluidity. Edward’s research considered novel theoretical models for handling BECs, to provide new insights into their behaviour.

The Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial Scholarship’s aim is to build human capability in Science and Technology by providing early career support for New Zealand’s brightest and most promising researchers. The Scholarships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Rutherford Foundation Trust.

Edward will commence his study at Cambridge in October 2014.

Project description: “Condensed matter physics”

Edward is in the process of finalising a PhD project, which will fall under the broad umbrella of “condensed matter physics”. The scope of condensed matter research is enormous, and it is one of the most active branches of contemporary physics. Condensed matter spans solids, liquids, and some more exotic phases of matter. Research in this area has led to many applications, from semiconductor transistor and laser technology to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The theoretical research conducted in this field involves developing mathematical models to help understand and predict the behaviour of condensed matter, as observed by experimentalists.

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