Another academic year is about to begin; as we greet some eager new PhD students, it's time to reflect on the past and look to the future. Last year I went to Colorado again, getting some vital data for my own PhD thesis, as well as continuing work on the electronics systems of their capillary discharge laser. A useful endeavour, it turns out, as the University of York has just agreed to buy one and I've accepted a 6 month post-doctoral position to commission it. This means that I will have to observe the now-emerging tradition of going there again at the start of next year to get everything ready for us to install it. All the while, I have to finish my thesis in time for next April - no sweat, then!
It's been a great year for the York Plasma Institute, too. For the last few months, many of us have moved out to allow a whole new wing to be built. It has been quite cosy living in a pre-fab chemistry building. I've been sharing a room with mostly other third and fourth year students, so the attitude here has been mostly one of a grim determination to finish the last bit of research and get the next thesis chapter written up. I'm not going to tell you how many pages of mine I have written so far, but it's about halfway done. In the meantime myself and a desk-mate have been growing some chilli plants on our windowsill, as a good excuse to occasionally procrastinate.
These plants have grown up at the same time as the extension to our institute - and almost as quickly!
Overall, I'm starting my final PhD year feeling a little older and a lot wiser (perhaps justifiably so). I've felt wise enough to tutor a couple of university applicants in the last few months. Doing some public outreach about science – we have just had YorNight, an open event to celebrate research at York – I feel a lot more like a scientist. I can only hope for a year as successful as the last one!