MPhys (Hons) Astrophysics
Dr Samuel Nathan Richards
Meet Dr Samuel Nathan Richards, who has taken his degree out of this world. Samuel currently works for NASA as the Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for NASA/DLR mission: SOFIA in California.Read more stories BSc (Hons) Astrophysics
|Current job role||Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for NASA/DLR mission: SOFIA|
|Year of graduation||2012|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Astrophysics with Sandwich Year|
Samuel currently works as the Mission Director & Instrument Scientist for the SOFIA mission, based in Palmdale, California at the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Nathan has worked toward this role since completing his degree and a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Sydney, Australia.
He says, 'I would not be where I am without the opportunities that were available while studying at the University of Hertfordshire. From extracurricular projects, to connections with other world ranking universities. I'm thankful to the University for its guidance and support that kick-started my career.'
Samuel decided to study at the University after seeing a promo video in sixth-form that featured the Bayfordbury Observatory. He says, 'When I discovered how strong the University's Astronomy department was, I felt that this was an environment that I could thrive in.'
'The lecturers were world-class, active astronomers, so each class was dynamic to the ever-changing knowledge of their respective fields of research. Their willingness to accept keen students for extracurricular research projects gave me early first-hand experience of the career I was about to launch myself into. Their international connections opened a path for me to do a research year at the University of Sydney, where I would later return to complete a PhD!'
Just the beginning
Pursuing a career in astronomy is highly competitive but incredibly exciting. Opportunities in these industries are truly global and roles are very diverse. 'I didn't know I'd end up working at NASA, but I took all opportunities as they arose.' Samuel encourages new and current students to do the same. 'Find what you enjoy and do that, over money, status and fame. There are many routes to where I am now, my colleagues come from very different backgrounds: astronomy, electrical and mechanical engineering and computer science, and that is just within my role, let alone all the other roles under NASA's umbrella.'
'I'm still learning, developing and taking on new opportunities!'
Meet Thomas Owen who discovered his passion for analytics while at university. He is currently a Sales and Capacity Planner at Ocado.Read more stories BSc (Hons) Physics
|Current job role||Sales and Capacity Planner|
|Year of graduation||2015|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Physics|
University life and experience
Thomas initially decided to come to the University of Hertfordshire based on our excellent Physics facilities, including Bayfordbury Observatory. While visiting the campus at an Open Day he was impressed with the amount of support available and our ranking in league tables for Physics evidenced in the expertise of our lecturers.
Throughout his time at the University, Thomas felt fully supported. He says, ‘There was never a point where I felt I had to go it alone and help was always on hand if things got tough. Lecturers took the time to meet with me personally if I had questions and the 24/7 LRC had everything I'd need for self-study and exam practice.’
After graduating, he has realised that the challenges he faced throughout his degree have fully prepared him for his working life and future career.
‘My studies helped me prepare for working in busy, dynamic environments by challenging me all the time. Whether it was working on a big project, my dissertation, or preparing for my exams – my experiences encouraged me to take challenges head on.’
While he worked hard throughout his time at university, he is pleased that it paid off. He explains that handing in his final year dissertation and being awarded a first made it all worthwhile.
Thomas initially did not think that he would be working in online grocery and retail, however, he has found the industry to be challenging, rewarding and fast-growing. He explains that he likes the variety of roles and ‘different areas of aspire to work in.’