Find out what life is really like at Durham University

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Memories of studying Physics in Durham

My journey to Durham

October 1st, 2008, I was a fresh graduate student, leaving China for the first time and coming to Durham, UK. I was supported by the Durham Doctoral Fellowship, which gave me the opportunity to commence my Phd study in Durham. I was full of curiosity about everything, looking forward to the upcoming study of astronomy, and at the same time with a hint of youthful tension about the new environment and uncertain future. At that time, I did not realize that Durham would have such a profound influence on me. And now, I have become an independent scientist, participating in a very exciting astronomical X-ray satellite project, which involves lots of collaborations between China and Europe.

Presentation of my research

Life in Durham

In my memory, Durham is a quiet and beautiful town, customized for conducting scientific research, allowing people to devote themselves to the world of research without distraction. In the beginning, I only had a passion for astronomy but didn’t know the specific research topic. My supervisors’ guidance made my enthusiasm concrete and transformed it into an interest in black hole research, and this interest continues to this day after a whole decade. I was also given a lot of freedom to conduct free exploration in specific research work. This independence is particularly important in my later career development. I was also encouraged to attend various conferences to introduce my work to the science community. The atmosphere in the Physics Department is also very good. I can easily get help and guidance from other teachers and colleagues.

My life in Durham was simple and happy. Apart from daily research, I also served as a teaching assistant, and as a representative of Chinese students to participate in an activity organized by the Durham University with Peking University. Sometimes, I attended parties organized by colleagues and friends and enjoyed lots of happy times. I especially miss the summer in Durham, the time walking and chatting with friends by the river.

View from a University building

What am I up to now?

The learning and research experience in Durham, especially the words and deeds taught by my supervisors and other teachers in the Physics Department, not only taught me how to do research independently but more importantly, how to be an excellent scientist. After graduation, I left Durham and started to explore my own independent academic career. I worked and lived in Munich and Beijing, but I have always been in close contact with Durham, especially in close collaboration with my supervisors. This year we also published two very interesting articles on “Black Hole‘s Heartbeat” in the journal of Monthly Notice of Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), which were also reported by the BBC and CNN.

After leaving Durham, my supervisors still provide continuous support and important suggestions for the development of my academic career. Now I have become a staff member of the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC), and serve as the deputy chief designer in the Einstein Probe satellite mission. Just like my supervisors, I now have the opportunity to participate in an exciting astronomy satellite project, and look forward to witnessing its launch and operation in two years.

Besides, I now have my own students. I realize that my supervisors gave me not only knowledge but also how to become a competent and respected teacher. In the process of guiding students, I often learn from my experience of studying in Durham, recalling how my supervisors helped me to grow.

Now, I visit Durham almost every year. It feels like going home and visiting my family members. Durham has become my second hometown. I look forward to continuing this close connection with Durham in the future.

Find out more

About the Physics department here.

Find out more about Astronomy and Cosmology at Durham here.

Sign up to our Knowledge Across Borders webinar Black Holes, Galaxies and the Evolution of the Universe. Jin will be one of the speakers at this event taking place on Tuesday 18 May.

Chichuan Jin

After studying for a PHD at Durham I am now an independent scientist, participating in a very exciting astronomical X-ray satellite project, which involves lots of collaborations between China and Europe.
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