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UCLan graduate seeing stars as she secures prestigious job

16 July 2013

Rachel Atkinson

NASA calls for PhD student

Caroline Alexander who received her PhD in Solar Physics from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) last week.

A star student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is over the moon to have landed a dream job at NASA.

Caroline Alexander, who received her PhD in Solar Physics last week, will be starting her post-doctoral position at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, in September.

The prestigious position will see her working on ultra-high resolution data of the Sun’s outer atmosphere and trying to see what physical processes occur on the smallest scales.

She was part of a team of international scientists from UCLan, the United States and Russia, who used a sounding rocket to launch the NASA High Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) to capture the sharpest images yet of the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

“The high reputation of the astrophysics department and the friendliness of the staff when I came for my interview attracted me to the course. Plus Lancashire is a lovely place to live.”

The 28-year-old, from Edinburgh, accompanied Professor Robert Walsh, the University’s Executive of Research, to present the new results at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Scotland earlier this month. The Hi-C team managed to obtain images of the solar atmosphere (the solar corona) five times sharper than anything seen before.

It was the high standard of research carried out by UCLan which attracted Caroline to undertake her PhD at the Preston-based University.

She said: “The high reputation of the astrophysics department and the friendliness of the staff when I came for my interview attracted me to the course. Plus Lancashire is a lovely place to live.”

Caroline added: “I enjoyed the opportunities to travel to wonderful places for conferences to present my work. The best one was definitely going to northern Finland where I got to see the Northern Lights. Another highlight was working with really great people in the department.”