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Student story

Alex Chapman

20 July 2023

"The sheer potential for discovery and advancement that is available has never been higher..."


Studying towards a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics

As someone endlessly fascinated by the great unknowns of the universe, Alex understands just how important it is to investigate more of how our world functions.

"For me, everything we simply do not know makes the areas of Physics and Astronomy so particularly alluring. Space is literally the final frontier, and as someone who loves to explore, what better field is there to enter but the one which shall make possible that expedition into the unknown?

"The sheer amount of potential for discovery and advancement that is available to the global academic and scientific community has never been higher than it is now, at the turn of the 21st century, and I find that very exciting," he says.

UC being his local and first choice, Alex received a UC Undergraduate Scholarship towards his Physics and Mathematics degree when enrolling.

The campus environment is his favourite part of study here, where he can stay in Christchurch "while still being exposed to new people and places".

"The campus is a pleasure to be on, with fantastic wide pathways which are great to longboard and bike along. Ilam Gardens, just over the road from campus is a great place for walks, and to go slack-lining in," he says. "The construction of the new Science block is very exciting, everyone can hardly wait to make use of it."

Getting to see the universe close-up on a field trip to Mt John Observatory in his first year was an unforgettable experience for Alex.

"It was a marvellous trip. The opportunity to be able to get up close and personal with the telescopes while they were in operation was thrilling, an experience enhanced by the personnel guiding us, who gave us a good understanding of the mechanical and scientific background of these machines. I highly recommend getting on board one the multiple trips that head down to Mt John each year, be it with the Astronomy department, the Aurora School, or PhysSoc."

Alex is the current President of PhysSoc Physics and Astronomy Society at UC since his first year, and organises events for students including "the Cold and Hot Rocket Challenges, the Glider Run, the Trebuchet Trails, Combust, and more".

Another club Alex has joined is the UC Climbing Club, with one of his highlights being the annual trip to the Port Hills climbing at the Cattle Stop.

"It was a truly enjoyable day, with a very chill atmosphere overall, which contrasted nicely with the short and sharp outbursts of effort, climbing in the blazing sunlight. I can highly recommend the UCCC, they're a fun-loving, active club."

Other interests outside study include learning foreign languages, particularly German, practicing photography, tinkering with machines, and a passion for music playing the saxophone and collecting vinyl.

With so many hobbies keeping him busy, Alex's main advice to other students looking at doing a Science degree is to make sure they have a clear focus and passion about their study.

"Be sure to have fun, and keep your own unique interest in science alive," he says. "The fact that there is so much incredible and beautiful things to learn about the universe that we already know is amazing. All it takes is for you to sit down, and spend some time learning it. Every day, there is the potential to learn something new, something incredible."

Alex has his sights set on a future looking further into the unknown than any other.

"A career in scientific research and teaching is something that really appeals to me. To conduct research, to discover, to see things the literally no one else has ever seen before, and then teaching the world about it is something that I want to dedicate my life to."

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