Simon Lock - Natural Sciences (Physical)
Originally from Kendal, a small town on the edge of the English Lake District, Simon attended Kirkbie Kendal School. He studied A-levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics before arriving at St John’s in 2008. After graduating with a 1st class honours degree in Natural Sciences (specializing in Experimental and Theoretical Physics) in 2012, Simon is currently studying towards a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.
I really didn’t know much about Cambridge and the colleges before applying. When I was looking for a college to apply to my stereotypical preconception of Cambridge as being ‘stuck up’ meant I was worried about not fitting in. But then I visited St. John’s on an open day and fell instantly in love with the place. The people were so welcoming and that combined with the beauty of the college grounds had me sold.
Natural Sciences at Cambridge is an absolutely fantastic course. I particularly enjoyed the variety of the first two years where you get to choose courses from a number of different disciplines. That diverse knowledge base is very useful in my current research which itself pulls upon many different disciplines. The Natural Sciences course trains you to think in new and effective ways in order to solve problems; skills that are important whichever career path you decide to follow. The course requires you to work hard but with the support of the college, and in particular your supervisors, this hard work pays off.
Cambridge is by no means all about work and while I was at St. John’s I made the most of the opportunities that were available to me. The college has excellent sporting facilities a stone’s throw away that makes it so easy to get involved either in one of the sports teams or just some casual games. Both the college and university offer a whole host of musical activities, from the college orchestra, and numerous other non-audition groups, up to the excellence of the Cambridge University Musical Society orchestras. One of the huge advantages of the collegiate system is the sense of community and St. John’s excels in creating this. Some of my favorite memories involve sitting in the college bar or in Hall at a formal meal just chatting the evening away with different groups of people.
Studying at St. John’s has opened up fantastic opportunities for me. I was fortunate enough to be given a place on the Cam-SURF exchange scheme that is run by St. John’s and three of the other colleges. This meant I got to spend a summer in California carrying out research at the California Institute of Technology. It was a fantastic experience which showed me that the study of planetary science, was what I wanted to pursue. As a result I am now studying for a PhD at Harvard University working on understanding what happens when planets collide and how such collisions shaped the planets in our solar system and planetary systems around other stars.
I greatly enjoyed my time at St. John’s and would recommend the college to anyone.
Simon Lock, June 2013