St Andrews host CAPS 2014

23 July 2014

This year, the University of St Andrews played host to the annual Institute of Physics Conference of Astronomy and Physics Students (CAPS). On 19 June, undergraduate and postgraduate students from 20 different universities all over the UK descended on the small seaside town on the coast of Fife.

St Andrews host CAPS 2014
Credit: Henry Legg

Over the course of the weekend, 19 students practised their public speaking skills by giving a talk on an area of physics or astronomy they were especially interested in. Topics ranged from manipulating electron spins in three dimensions to using Bayesian interference to find flares in Kepler data, and everything in between. There was also a poster session on the Saturday afternoon, in which eight students presented their posters to the judges, Dr Frances Saunders, the President of the IOP, and Prof Andrew Cameron, the Head of the St Andrews' School of Physics and Astronomy. The students judged to have presented the best undergraduate or postgraduate talk, or the best poster, were awarded a copy of the complete Feynman Lectures.

As the chair of this year's organising committee, I hope that CAPS provided an excellent opportunity for students from institutions all over the country to meet and forge invaluable links with one another, potential employers, and representatives from the IOP. One of the main goals of the conference this year was to encourage networking between societies – with the help of the IOP University Student Network – and promote the exchange of ideas.

The conference wasn't all about academic lectures and making new contacts though; I'd like to think that there was the opportunity for students to have a bit of fun and (perhaps) explore a part of the country they've never visited before! With a quiz, a scavenger hunt, and a games night, I hope that there was something for everyone to enjoy. A highlight of the weekend for me was the Saturday Awards Dinner in the form of a (very unseasonable) Burns supper, which with any luck gave students an insight into Scottish culture. If not, then at least they had the bruises on their arms from ceilidhing to take away as a memento!

Lauren Kathleen Cowan