'The best thing about my research is being able to create something original...'
Bachelor of Science in Astronomy
Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Physics
Master of Science in Physics
Studying towards a PhD in Physics
Chrissy’s PhD research at UC focuses on condensed matter physics to create thin metallic films.
‘My research focuses on the development of metallic ferromagnetic thin films called Heusler alloys which we intend to develop for use in spintronic based devices,’ she says. ‘I create these thin films via a technique called pulsed laser deposition here at UC using an ultra-high vacuum chamber and an ultra violet-pulsed laser source.
‘The best thing about my research is being able to create something original. The pulsed laser deposition technique has the potential to easily create any thin film material that can consist of a simple element or a material with extremely complex stoichiometry.’
Chrissy originally came to UC to study Astronomy for her undergrad.
‘I have always been really interested in science and I was really passionate about Astronomy while in high school. A BSc seemed like the best way for me to develop the skills I needed for a career in science.
‘I came for Orientation and got to see and experience the department and the campus. The strength of the Physics Department at UC relative to other NZ universities was a major factor as well as the diverse range of Astronomy courses and access to Mt. John Observatory.’
Field trips to the Mt. John Observatory were easily a highlight for Chrissy during undergrad.
‘In my third year I stayed on site with another student using the 0.6m telescope for a research project. I loved it, we were given complete freedom to stay and use the equipment.
‘Even though I am no longer focussing on Astronomy, the skills I learnt in my BSc are completely translatable and helped to prepare me for my current study. The small condensed matter projects I did in my third year introduced me to the major research taking place in the department and getting involved introduced me to my current supervisors.
‘I have been given a lot of opportunities I didn’t expect which has been crucial to further my studies; there was a lot of flexibility to alter my studies especially in my MSc.’
To give back to the department, Chrissy has taken on a role encouraging high school students to consider taking up Physics at university.
‘Between semester breaks I help with the Physics Outreach Program by teaching Christchurch high school students about radiation. We discuss their own annual exposure levels and compare them to major nuclear disasters in history and we also let them do experiments with radioactive sources in the laboratory.’
Chrissy also teaches laboratory sessions as a senior demonstrator for 100-level Physics courses.
‘The Physics Department encourages to you to get involved with teaching. It’s really satisfying to help others get the most out of the courses that I once did. Teaching is a huge asset, as well as reinforcing your understanding it helps with public speaking and the ability to explain complex ideas quickly and concisely which are invaluable when presenting your research.’
She highly encourages others wanting to study Physics to give it a go even if you are worried about your maths skills.
‘Being a great mathematician is not a requirement for being a great physicist.’