Profile: Philip Pearcy
Philip Pearcy, Bob Thomas Scholar, is studying a DPhil in Chemistry at Univ and is MCR Social Secretary. In this profile, he discusses MCR events, atom centres and tips on settling into Oxford.
What did you do before coming to Univ?
I originally come from Hitchin in Hertfordshire. Before coming to Oxford in October 2020, I had been at the University of Warwick for four years to study for an MChem in Chemistry. This also included a year-long industrial placement at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, working on the CLF Artemis laser system. This work involved me setting up and running experiments for visiting academics who wished to use our facilities. Following this, I completed my master’s project on naturally occurring sunscreen molecules by studying how they absorbed ultraviolet light using ultrafast laser spectroscopy.
Why did you choose to do a DPhil?
I was interested in continuing in the field of laser spectroscopy after my undergraduate degree, so I took time during my industrial placement to visit different academics and institutions to see the research they were performing. I met my current supervisor, Prof. Stuart Mackenzie, at a conference in January 2019 before completing a summer placement within his group the following summer. This, in turn, led to me applying to do a DPhil within the Mackenzie group as I really enjoyed my time there, and I found the field to be very interesting.
What is the current direction of your research?
My research focuses on the interaction of small molecules with single metal atom centres as well as metal clusters in the gas phase using infrared spectroscopy. This is of interest in the field of catalysis, as small clusters can possess very different properties to bulk metal surfaces. Additionally, I am focusing on designing, building and testing a new cluster source that will allow our group to produce larger, bimetallic clusters. The aim behind this is to see how changing the composition of cluster can affect their reactivity with gases. This may give an insight into the processes that occur within catalytic converters which are made of multiple materials.
How do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
I have been able to gain a wider view of everything that is involved within the world of scientific research. I have gained valuable experience by spending many hours in the lab, whether that is working on my own to complete a mini-project or working with the rest of the group to resolve problems that arise with the experiment or the chemical calculations that we run. Furthermore, I have been able to interact with arguably more people from a much broader range of subjects than ever before. It has been great to talk with those within the Univ community who have completely different research interests to my own, as well as being able to become good friends with them outside of the working environment.
What do you do in your role as MCR social secretary? Have you got anything exciting planned?
I have been the MCR Social Secretary since the start of Trinity Term 2021. My role within the committee was to arrange and run social events for the graduate community within Univ. Whilst it was tricky at the beginning with the pandemic restrictions that were in place, I managed to run bar events, bops, college exchanges, a chocolate tasting event, and so on. It has required a lot of commitment and motivation to get events up and running, but I believe that the people who attended the events really enjoyed themselves and got to experience what it is like to be part of an active Univ graduate community. For the next few weeks, we have a number of fun events coming up, including our weekly Sunday Social, a film night and an end-of-term bop. I would encourage all of you reading this to come along and join in!
Any tips for settling into Oxford/Univ life?
Try your best to find something to do with your friends that is outside of your work. I have found that doing something separate from my work, mainly my role within the MCR committee and doing events with my housemates, has been helpful to allow me to switch off from work at the end of the day. This allows me to revitalise myself and work more effectively when I am in the laboratory.
Describe Univ in three words.
Open. To. Everyone.
Published: 28 February 2022