The best part of my placement at CERN was the freedom to achieve goals

Freya Bottom
Freya Bottom
Undergraduate student
Physics MPhys
During her placement year, Freya worked on the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN research institute in Switzerland, where the groundbreaking Higgs boson discovery was made.

I worked at CERN within the opto-electronics group where I was a technical student testing the optical data links for the particle detector upgrades.

During my placement I did quality assurance work for optical links for the next Large Hadron Collider upgrade, and tested the links being designed for the upgrade after that. I worked in multiple labs doing experimental physics and coding to control the experiments. I did radiation tests on the devices, working in Switzerland and Belgium, and some days I would be simulating the semiconductor devices and radiation damage they would experience in the detectors.

The experience I have gained of a research facility also solidified my plans to aim to go into research.

Freya Bottom

Physics with Employment Experience MPhys

I learned about the electronics required in a particle detector to send information to the control rooms, and the tests that the optical-links need to undergo to be integrated. An important lesson that I learned on placement was that answers often are not available in research (that's why it's called research) and that's a good thing, it provides more avenues to explore. Generally attitude was far more important than knowledge.

The most enjoyable part of my placement year was the freedom given to achieve goals. There was freedom to improve systems that I felt were more time consuming than necessary or perform more tests that could provide insightful information. That, and the opportunity to work in another country and meet such amazing people.

Taking a year away from studying has helped me focus in my final year, because it was very easy to get used to having evenings and weekends with no work to do. The experience I have gained of a research facility also solidified my plans to aim to go into research. I attended a seminar on the CLOUD experiment and learned that I could use a physics degree to investigate climate change, a field I hadn't realised was physics based until then. Since then it has been my goal to pursue a PhD in this field.

REF 2021 illustration showing University building and subject areas

Research Excellence Framework 2021

We have been rated 1st in the UK in terms of the quality of our research. In the latest REF, 100 per cent of research and impact from our department has been classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Search for a course

Use our search to find the right course for you.