Sky's the limit for Stephen Mercer – an Astronomy graduate turned Physics teacher
Studying Astronomy BSc (Hons) in 2016
UCLan Astronomy graduate, Stephen Mercer, has put his scientific knowledge to great use as a Physics teacher in secondary education and to further his research in this area.
Throughout Stephen’s life, he was always interested in astronomy and astrophysics. He chose to study BSc (Hons) Astronomy as it allowed him to study subjects close to his heart. Stephen cites that completing his degree at UCLan as “an extremely enjoyable time in my life”. The Astronomy degree gave him a great perspective on how the universe works and an increased understanding of how life was created.
Making a career out of a science degree
In order to become a full-time Physics teacher in a secondary school, Stephen went on to complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. His work now includes teaching at Key Stage Levels 3, 4 and 5 (A-Level), which he greatly enjoys. Speaking of his drive to be a Physics teacher, Stephen said: “This opportunity enabled me to directly apply what I learnt during my degree to my teaching career, in the hope that I can inspire the younger generation to get into physics and astronomy.”
Alongside his teaching career, Stephen is currently studying a postgraduate course, MSc Observational Astrophysics (at another university) where he is discovering new physics and taking part in research. This is to help him reach his long-term goal of achieving a PhD.
Success, publications and becoming a Royal Astronomical Society member
Through the skills gained from his undergraduate degree, within astrophotography, Stephen has had his images used and awarded within major astronomical publications, such as ‘Astronomy Now’ and ‘Sky at Night’. Another proud accomplishment of Stephen’s is that he has been invited to become a member of the Royal Astronomical Society due to his specialist master’s studies and physics teaching experience.
Looking back on his time at UCLan, Stephen positively recounted: “The help and support I received was exceptional. The opportunity of contacting and working with my peers on the course was a great experience. The fact that I have gained knowledge and experience of astronomy was a lasting experience, one of which will be with me for life.
Astronomy degree and its 'impact' on life
“The Astronomy degree has had a major impact on my life and changed it for the better. I have been able to conduct further educational research in areas of astronomy and astrophysics.”
When asked what advice he would give to graduates and prospective students wanting to follow a similar study and career path, Stephen stated: “A degree in astronomy is extremely rewarding. Not only have I had the amazing opportunity to embark on my chosen career as a Physics teacher, but the degree also opened doors to progress on to further postgraduate study within this field.”