Meet our postgraduate researchers: Karen Westland

Published on 19 August 2021

Karen is working at the intersection of science and art, having joined the Physics group from a background of silversmithing in order to research solar lasers.

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What has been the most challenging aspect so far?

As someone who finds verbally communicating my greatest challenge, I find myself continually moving between pushing myself to expand my ability but also giving myself space to be in my comfort zone to be comfortable with this aspect of my personality. I have found taking part in the programs the Centre for Entrepreneurship host have really helped me have more opportunities to practice speaking in a safe environment, making networking events and conferences that much easier.

How are you hoping your research will benefit others?

First and foremost, I hope this research will encourage others to pursue interests out with their own field to open the possibility to discover. Did I imagine I’d be conducting research within the School of Physics- absolutely not: but my curiosity led me from the Japanese prints to here. On a practical level, my optical components play a small role in the overall development of solar lasers, and the sustainable craft processing is of relevance for material processing in sunny developing countries. Lastly my findings for interdisciplinary collaboration can be applied to similar projects to improve the overall experience. 

What advice would you give to postgraduate research students?

When you start to feel yourself approaching the points where you need to make a decision about your research direction or which methods to employ etc.: remember, this research is yours! Therefore, make sure you are forming it in a direction that interests you and you can proudly own and justify at the end of all your hard work. Seek advice and learn from others, then make the executive decisions for where you take your project, ensuring you are fulfilling your project parameters whilst taking initiative.

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