Summer Students

Scroll down to read what summer students think abut working in the LEAP group.

2017 Group project for 2nd yr students: Glen Hunter, Megan Worters, Drew Millard (with Christiane Helling/Peter Woitke): paper & Comparison Catalogue of Gas-Equilibrium Constants, Kp
2017 George Turner (with Peter Woitke/Christiane Helling): paper& Graphical Comparison of Mineral Gibbs Free Energy Data
2017 Conor Straub (with Irena Vorgul)

2016 Daniel Tootill (RAS funded, with Christiane Helling): paper

2015 Jessica Khaimova (Rosen fellowship holder, with Christiane Helling): paper
2015 Matthew Swayne (with Paul Rimmer)
2015 Asa Unger (with Christiane Helling): paper

2014 Anna Rice (RES Cormack Bequest studentship, with Christiane Helling): paper
2014 Ruben Asensio Torres (RAS & Physics Trust fund summer studentship,
with Irena Vorgul/Christiane Helling): paper

2013 Inna Bozhinova (Physics Trust fund, with Christiane Helling): conference proceeding, paper
2013 Helen Giles (Nuffield Bursary studentship, with Christiane Helling): paper

2012 Graham Lee (RAS summer studentship, with Christiane Helling): paper
2012 Rachel Bailey (Physics Trust fund, with Christiane Helling/Craig Stark): paper
2012 Aleksandrs Bolhovitins (Physics Trust fund, with Craig Stark)
2012 Isabel Rodríguez Barrera (with Christiane Helling)

2011 Aleksejs Fomins: (St Andrews EPSRC Undergraduate Research Internship Programme): paper

2008 James A Sinclair: paper
2008 William Lucas: paper


Students experiences:

Megan Worters
LEAP summer students 2017

“As a student it’s hard to understand what a job in research entails… This Summer Project really gave us an idea of what kind tasks an Astronomer undertakes on a daily basis.

I worked with 2 of my fellow students in a group project that aimed to compare several data sets that allow for planetary atmospheres to be modelled. The Eight-week project was certainly challenging at times but was ultimately an invaluable and tremendously rewarding experience. The skills and qualities you learn whilst undertaking such a project are simply too great to list. The most profound skills we learned was team-work and communication. Not only did we have to communicate well with each other, we also had to frequently discuss our progress with our supervisors and describe our work to other groups of students and staff. I, myself, had very little knowledge of what research actually involves and had little experience with computer programming or with planetary atmospheres. Our days consisted of processing all of the raw data and then preparing code that could utilise the data from the different sources and create plots that would allow us to compare and make judgements on which source gave the best data to use in the atmosphere simulations.

We were then given the opportunity to express our results in the form of a paper, which was in itself an amazing prospect. Not only were we able to learn vital skills and discover what a career in Astrophysics involves, the research we were doing was actually valuable and will be used by others in the future. To be able to say that our summer was spent doing real and important research is just incredible! Add to that the fact that we were able to write and publish a paper on the subject made the whole project just so exceptional and rewarding.

I thoroughly recommend a Summer Project with the LEAP group to anyone who would like to spend their summer learning priceless skills and working within a highly supportive team”


Daniel Tootill
LEAP summer students 2016

“I came into my summer project with only vague ideas of what ‘research’ actually entailed. Would it be as depicted in movies, a bunch of people huddled around a whiteboard, hastily scrawling arcane symbols while smoke drifted from some experiment in the background? Or would it mean sitting in a library from dusk till dawn surrounded by dusty manuscripts and doorstopper sized textbooks?

While the reality was not as dramatic as the former, my experience over 10 weeks suggests it’s a good deal more exciting than the latter. I was studying cloud formation in carbon rich planetary atmospheres, not a topic I knew much if anything about prior to starting, but one that proved captivating over the duration of my project. It provided a fantastic insight into the joys of research: from teaching me how to write and use complex computer programs to both create and display my results, to helping me hone my strategies for overcoming any encountered problems. It also introduced me to that moment when you realise that the questions you’re attempting to find answers for simply haven’t been answered before: that your day to day activities truly are ground-breaking!

All of this was accomplished from within a tight and supportive research team who were not only genuinely interested in the work I was doing but were also excited to share their results. All in all it was an invaluable experience and one I would recommend to anyone interested in a challenging but fantastically rewarding summer!”


Jessica Khaimova
My Experience as a Summer Student at St Andrews 2015

”When I was applying for the Rosen Fellowship, which is generously offered by my university, Brooklyn College – City University of New York, I wanted to finally have the opportunity to study planetary atmospheres, a field that I have been always been interested in, for the first time. I reached out to various professors around Europe whose research interests aligned with my own. In the end, I decided to work with Dr. Christiane Helling, an astrophysics professor at the University of St. Andrews. The project involved comparing the cloud formation on HD189b and HD209b, two extrasolar planets that each have unique characteristics.
Throughout my two and a half month research experience, I learned about cloud formation, astronomy, and gained new coding skills. I spent my days plotting the elements and molecules that are most abundant on various points on each planet, in addition to other variables. I am still collaborating with Dr. Helling as we are preparing a manuscript for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
I had never thought about looking at planetary atmospheres through an astrophysical – as opposed to an atmospheric – lens until I had the opportunity to actually study planetary atmospheres at St Andrews. This experience also finalised my decision to study astrophysics in my postgraduate career. I became so interested in the field that I am currently self-studying it using textbooks that have been recommended to me by professors and students at St Andrews in order to prepare myself for a masters degree. Being abroad made the experience much more enriching as I was able to be immersed in a culture different from the one I grew up in. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity.”

Matthew Swayne  (student at University of St Andrews, School of Physics & Astronomy)
LEAP Summer Student 2015

”As a student who is thinking of pursuing a career in research, my summer internship as part of the LEAP project in St Andrews was a fantastic opportunity and one that I immensely enjoyed. Being part of an active research team in exoplanetary science was an exciting and fun experience. However one of the most useful parts for me was seeing how such a team operates and gaining a first-hand insight into the workings of the research world. Add to that the opportunity to look at and learn more about exoplanetary science, and a friendly and welcoming team, and you have the makings of a brilliant summer!”