Milly Kelly

Case Study: Milly Kelly

Originally from Durham, Milly took a two week work experience placement with Think Physics to support her in finding out more about physics at university. Milly also volunteers at Kielder Observatory, one of our project partners, where she enjoys learning more about astronomy and helping other people learn more too. Her other hobbies include singing, playing the guitar, spending time with friends and –rather randomly – working as a ‘beater’ for the grouse shooting! She offers a key piece of safety advice for anyone interested in that line of work:

“Don’t get shot.”

A former student of Wolsingham 6th Form, Milly studied A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, originally aiming towards a career in medicine. However as the courses progressed she started to study areas such as quantum physics, and physics became her favoured subject. Her studies have allowed Milly to develop skills including:

  • An understanding of physics and astrophysics
  • Physics has cemented Milly’s interests in astrophysics and volunteering, thus allowing Milly to indulge her passion further as well as meet new friends with similar interests
  • Develop investigation, analytical and questioning skills
  • Become a more accomplished researcher

In late 2015, Milly started a foundation degree in physics at Kent University. Having not studied Maths at A level she’s having to do this extra year, but she reports that she’s loving it, and the time is allowing her to explore the options available later in the course. She currently thinks she’ll focus on astrophysics and space science.


Milly reports her inspirations as:

  • A talk by Princeton University’s Professor Jenny Greene in 2014 at the Centre for Life, about stars, galaxies and black holes
  • Gary Fildes from Kielder; his talks and passion for astronomy are inspiring
  • Her mum, who has fully supported her desire to pursue physics (even more so after the talk by Greene)
  • Brian Cox and his ‘night with the stars’ series, which she watched with friends
  • Physics teacher Mr Coates, whose enthusiasm was infectious, super supportive and encouraging

Milly’s advice to others:

“Don’t pick a career, rather take subjects that open up pathways and keep your options open. Studying science has allowed me to consider a number of different options.”

Caitlin Pugh

Case Study: Caitlin Pugh

Originally from Doncaster, Caitlin began a BSc degree course in Physics & Astrophysics at Northumbria University in 2014.

Studying Physics

In year 12, Caitlin studied Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and General Studies AS Levels. She carried on with Physics, Maths and Chemistry to A2. Physics was her favourite subject:

“I find it fascinating how much we know about the universe, and equally how much there is still to learn. It’s such a fast-developing subject and I want to play some part in it. To me, physics is the most important subject, and that’s why I chose it.”

As for her studies at Northumbria:

“I am really enjoying the course, it’s structured well and our grades come from a mixture of exams and coursework. Most of the content so far has been consolidating the things I learned at A level and then taking them slightly further. I have enjoyed this because I expected to be thrown in at the deep end and swamped with work from the start, however the course really eases you in and lets you settle into uni life before becoming more challenging.

“One of the best things about studying here is the support available, I know where to find my tutors and I know they will be happy to help if I’m having a problem with the content. If you send them an email, they always respond quickly and with helpful advice. Also, there are no shortage of places to sit and work or just to sit and talk to your course friends.”

What’s next?

Caitlin might stay on for a Master’s course after her BSc degree — an extra year of study that’s more about independent learning than a taught course, and is often a stepping-stone to a research career. She’s looking to use her astrophysics knowledge, so her dream job would be working for a space agency, but before she has to make any decisions she has a year in industry as part of her course. So everything could change!

Caitlin’s advice for others

“Choose something you enjoy, but also something that opens lots of doors. University is a huge investment, not just of money, but time as well. There’s no point studying a subject for three years that you might really enjoy, but then at the end of it not being able to find a good job afterwards. I chose Physics because I know that even if I don’t get a Physics-related job when I graduate, I’ve still gained an array of useful skills that employers look for. Choosing a degree subject should be a balance between what you enjoy and what is going to benefit you the most in the future.”