Physicists of the future

Wednesday 7 October 2009

A world-leading £9.4M Doctoral Training Centre to train the elite physicists of tomorrow is to be opened this week at the University of St Andrews.

The Scottish Doctoral Training Centre in Condensed Matter Physics (CM-DTC) is a tri-institutional collaboration between the University of St Andrews, the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.

The Centre will be officially opened on Friday 9th October 2009 at 1pm in Lecture Theatre C, School of Physics and Astronomy. The Principal of the University, Dr Louise Richardson, will give the opening address.

The initiative is part of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), a broader and longer established collaborative venture.

50-60 elite graduate students will join the CM-DTC PhD programme over the next decade with the first ten graduates beginning their training in September this year.

CM-DTC PhDs are longer than most PhD courses, and each student is fully funded for four years. They will all be expected to pass a broad and testing set of graduate level course as well as performing a PhD level piece of original research.

Professor Andy Mackenzie said, “We are convinced that this breadth is one of our key strengths. UK physics departments have long wished for the opportunity to emulate the thoroughness of the PhD training that is given by, for example, the elite universities in the USA. This is our chance to do so, and we are determined to work to internationally benchmarked standards of excellence in both the scope and content of our training.”

A key aspiration is to share the benefits of the funding that has allowed the creation of the Centre, as well as the experience of the graduate students.

“Our aim is for the Centre to contribute to the whole UK academic community, as well as broader society and the economy that fuels it,” Professor Mackenzie continued. “As part of our programme, we will be holding Symposia, residential schools and public events at which international leaders in our field will speak.”

The first of these events will be hosted by the University of St Andrews on Saturday 28 November 2009. A one-day Symposium will include international speakers including the most recent British Nobel Laureate, Professor Tony Leggett from the University of Illinois, who will also deliver a public lecture during his visit.

A student-driven outreach programme will also aim to take condensed matter physics further afield into schools and the wider community.

“Finally, we are setting up affiliations with over 20 Industrial Associates across a broad spectrum of size and industry.  They appreciate the quality of training that we will provide, and the value of high academic standards. We hope to develop this programme and communication links between industries and the CM-DTC over the forthcoming years.”

The CM-DTC has been generously funded to the tune of £6.7 M by Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), plus pre-existing SUPA and institutional investment of £2.7M.




The Centre will be officially opened on Friday 9th October 2009 at 1pm in Lecture Theatre C, School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews.


Professor Mackenzie is available for interview on 9 October between 1.30 pm and 3 pm.




Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Philippa Dunn, Assistant Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 462529, Mobile: 07730 415015 or Email:
[email protected]
Ref:  CM-DTC 071009
View the latest University press releases at

Category Research

Related topics

Share this story