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Doctoral student picks up bronze award for physics at STEM for BRITAIN 2024

28 March 2024

Two young women and one young man pose for a photograph with their awards at STEM for BRITAIN 2024 in Westminster.
PhD student Sama (left) won the bronze award in the physics category for her research on gravitational waves. Photo credit John Deehan Photography and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

A second-year PhD candidate from Cardiff University has won the bronze award for physics at a major scientific poster competition and exhibition hosted in the Houses of Parliament.

Sama Al-Shammari presented her research on gravitational waves to MPs at STEM for BRITAIN 2024 in Westminster.

Sama from Dublin came to Cardiff in 2020 to study for her MSc in Astrophysics at the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

Following her postgraduate degree, Sama decided to stay in Cardiff to pursue her doctoral study at the Gravity Exploration Institute under the supervision of Dr Vivien Raymond.

She said: “The research we do here is so exciting. I enjoy every second of it and am surrounded by such kind and supportive people. I relish every opportunity I get to share my research with others, and it brings me joy when they acknowledge how exciting it is too.”

Sama’s PhD focuses on using machine learning techniques to enhance parameter estimation from gravitational wave data and is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and UK Research and Innovation through the centre for doctoral training in artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced computing.

She added: “Astrophysics is a wonderful and vast topic. The more we study it and explore its hidden corners, the more we understand about our Universe.”

Slowly we are unravelling the secrets of the cosmos that have puzzled us for years such as black hole information and the nature of what is inside neutron stars. Cardiff is at the forefront of this research and it is an honour for me to be part of it.

Sama Al-Shammari

STEM for Britain was an opportunity for Sama to present findings from her PhD research so far to MPs and practitioners from a wide range of important scientific, engineering and mathematics institutions and organisations which lend their support to the event.

A young woman poses for a photograph alongside a poster about her research on gravitational waves.
“I relish every opportunity I get to share my research with others.” Sama presented her research on gravitational waves to MPs at STEM for BRITAIN 2024 in Westminster.

Stephen Doughty MP for Cardiff South and Penarth visited the University after the event to learn more about Sama’s work and the research underway among the wider doctoral cohort at the School of Physics and Astronomy.

He said: “It was a pleasure to meet Sama, to congratulate her on her success at STEM for Britain, and to see the fantastic work she and her colleagues at Cardiff University are doing.”

As a former amateur astronomer myself and someone who is fascinated by space and the cosmos, I was so impressed by her research - which is contributing to our wider understanding of the universe.

Stephen Doughty MP

Dr Vivien Raymond, a reader in the Gravity Exploration Institute at Cardiff University and Sama’s PhD supervisor, added: “This is a fantastic achievement by Sama.”

Halfway into her PhD her research has already won several awards. I can’t wait to see what she will do in the future!

Dr Vivien Raymond Reader
Gravity Exploration Institute

Chaired by Stephen Metcalfe MP and organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, STEM for BRITAIN has run since 1997 and aims to give members of both Houses of Parliament an insight into the outstanding research work being undertaken in UK universities by early-career researchers.

Find out more about the STEM for BRITAIN 2024 winners.

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We are currently inviting applications for a number of EPSRC fully funded PhD studentships available from 1 October in a range of research areas.