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Ferard and Leney Travel report – Ethan Carragher (2022, DPhil Theoretical Physics)

For 52 years now, PhD students in theoretical particle physics across the UK have been making the pilgrimage to attend the appropriately named British Universities Summer School in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics (BUSSTEPP). The purpose of this school is to cover advanced topics that go beyond what is included in a typical graduate curriculum, as well as cutting-edge developments in the field that are essential for a modern researcher to know. I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s BUSSTEPP, held at the University of Liverpool, thanks in part to the generous support of the Ferard and Leney Travel Fund.

I arrived to a warm welcome from the other students, who had gathered together sharing their excitement and getting to know each other before the school started. Over the next two weeks we would undergo a rigorous program of eight different lecture series taught by some of the world’s foremost experts in their respective subjects. I particularly enjoyed the courses on string theory and holography as I have long had an interest in these areas, and they even helped me think through some of my research problems. Between lectures there were many tea breaks that were packed full of delicious pastries and stimulating conversation, and each day finished with a tutorial session to solidify the concepts we were learning.

Perhaps just as important as the academic aspect of the school was the social aspect. BUSSTEPP provided the ideal environment to meet other students and make lasting personal and professional connections. As part of the school, everyone gave a five-minute presentation of their research – just enough time to get a sense of what others were working on and identify interesting people to meet. The resulting bonds strengthened further outside of work as we explored Liverpool together, visiting the beautiful docks, museums, various Beatles attractions, and a healthy number of pubs in our time there.

BUSSTEPP was an invaluable experience for me, both for broadening my knowledge of particle physics and for engaging with the wider research community. It was a pleasure to meet other passionate young researchers whose paths I am sure to cross again in the coming years as we navigate the research world. I am incredibly grateful to the Trustees of the Ferard and Leney Travel Fund for helping to make this possible.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 12 December 2023

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