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Silver Award in Physics Awarded to Past A Level Student

A past Coleg Menai student has won a silver award for physics after presenting her research in the Houses of Parliament as part of the STEM for Britain competition.

Laura Hanks, who studied A Levels in Physics, Maths, Chemistry and Biology at the college’s Bangor campus, now works as a postdoctoral researcher in Physics, at Lancaster University.

Laura presented her research, titled “Sensing at Your Fingertips: A Path to Spectrally Selective Infrared Detectors for You and Your Environment”, at the Parliamentary event held during March.

‘STEM for Britain’ is a major scientific poster competition and exhibition which has been held in Parliament since 1997, and is organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee. The event aims to raise the profile of the UK’s early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK.

Following her time at college, Laura was successful in gaining a place to study Physics with an integrated Master’s Degree at Cardiff University. She then moved on to study a PhD at Lancaster University, where she now works as a Senior Research Associate.

Laura’s work involves smart monitoring of various health metrics such as blood glucose, which could enable people to monitor their own health at home.

Bethan Lloyd Owen-Hughes, Programme Area Manager for A Levels at Coleg Menai, said,

“We’re immensely proud of Laura’s success, she’s a fantastic role model for our current science students who hope to go on to do similar things after their time at college!”

“The recent multi-million investment in our campuses ensure that our young people are taught using industry-standard laboratories - preparing them for a successful STEM career”

She added,

“I’d like to wish Laura all the best as she continues to carry out research in such an impactful area of physics. We at Coleg Menai look forward to hearing what she does next.”

Laura said,

“The event at Parliament was a fantastic opportunity to step out of what is usually a very focused social bubble of people who know exactly what you do and discuss your research in a much broader context. It was a very unique experience.”

“My chemistry and physics lecturer during my time at Coleg Menai inspired me a lot. He was fantastic at explaining all sorts of concepts, and would practise and demonstrate them until they were second nature to us”

“My current research is primarily focused on designing and developing infrared detectors for a variety of applications. Infrared detectors can be used to; sort plastics for recycling, monitor methane and carbon dioxide as well as non-invasively measure blood glucose. We are imagining a world where each of these sensors are built into a smart phone or watch, available to everyone. Infrared detectors are full of possible societally impactful applications, we just need more people to help us research!”

Photographs Courtesy of: "The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and John Deehan Photography"