Rebecca

Materials Science at Oxford

UCAS Personal Statement

I first discovered my interest in Materials Science whilst reading 'Stuff Matters' by Mark Miodownik. Not only had I found a subject which combined my keen interests in science and maths, I also became intrigued by how integral materials are to our lifestyles as well as how discoveries can change the world around us and solve the challenges facing society.

 

My favourite chapter was 'Immortal' which focuses on the medical applications of materials science such as using bioglass to make scaffolds to grow implants with stem cells. This allows replacement body parts to be made from the patient's own cells however further research surrounding connecting it to the body's blood supply and keeping the implant sterile is required. I researched this further when listening to 'Print Me a New Body' on BBC Radio 4. In the future, I would like to be involved in the development of biomaterials for use in areas such as orthopaedics and transplants. With an ageing population, improving orthopaedics will be vital so the implants last longer in the body to avoid further invasive surgery for an already frail patient. After attending Miodownik's talk "Can Materials Science Save Us?" at the Cheltenham Science Festival, I was inspired to do further wider reading.

 

In order to discover what studying Materials Science is like, I went on a taster course at QMUL that included a practical on chocolate and, using knowledge about its polymorphs and crystalline structure, how to create melt in the mouth chocolate. It was intriguing to see the parallels between two seemingly different materials: chocolate and metals.

 

Attending talks on quantum physics and visiting the Antimatter Factory at CERN gave me an insight into scientific research. In the summer, I did some work experience at Renishaw, an engineering company, which involved managing a team of work experience students to develop a measuring device. This allowed me to experience managing a project and keeping to deadlines within an industrial environment. Additionally, as part of an engineering project at school, we are making an electric race car. I have experienced many challenges along the way from funding, to how to keep the battery going for one hour in order for it to go as far as possible as well as the best-suited material for each part of the car, which we are hoping to race at Green Power events.

 

Outside of school, I have played the oboe for over ten years and am the principal oboist for Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra, a national award-winning youth wind band. I have played solos at events like National Concert Band Festival and Music For Youth and recorded a solo this year with GYWO which was played on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. This involves dealing with high-pressure situations as well as working in a team and independently as I have to practise my parts outside of rehearsal time in order to meet the high standards required. In addition, after enjoying French at GCSE, I continued to study French and enrolled on a Future Learn course in Italian which involved learning some of the basic concepts of the language. Although challenging, this was a lot of fun as I was able to spot patterns between the two languages which helped to extend my understanding of French. I hope to use the skills I have learnt as a musician and through learning languages throughout my degree.

 

At university, I am looking forward to studying advanced materials and how these are being developed. After university, I currently would hope to enter the front line of research developing new biomaterials.

Behind the Statement

How did you make start on your personal statement or begin planning?

I made a bullet point list on everything I could possibly include.

How did you decide what experiences to include in your personal statement? What did you cut out?

I wrote around my bullet points and included the ones I easily wrote lots about (the parts I was most passionate about basically). I then linked these together into an order that kind of flowed, looking for links between paragraphs.

How did you get these experiences in the first place?

Mostly through reading the annoying emails my sixth form would regularly send out! I also just researched books/lectures online! Ask your teachers they might know of some good things you can do.

How did you structure your personal statement? 

I used my bullet points to find a natural order to my personal statement.

How did you decide on an introduction for your personal statement?

I started off with how I found my interest in the subject I study- I think this is a great way to start!

How did you decide on a conclusion for your personal statement?

I felt like I had to do a conclusion so I did a sentence on my future plans of what to do with my degree but honestly think that was a waste of characters now!

What do you think are the strengths of your personal statement?

I think my second paragraph is my good one- it gives an insight into what I did after reading a book and shows a more active response.

Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand/advice? 

I probably did too much on extracurriculars?! I think planning beforehand is essential - there’s nothing more intimidating than a blank page! Also that you don’t need flashy experiences!! Podcasts/documentaries/books/lectures are impressive if you have something insightful to say/something you’ve done afterwards!! 

Oxford college instagrams are actually really good resources I didn’t know about!