News - 04/04/2012

Oxford PhD student strikes Silver with more accurate weather forecasting

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Hannah Arnold, 23, a 2nd year PhD Student at Jesus College, University of Oxford, took Silver at a competition in the House of Commons for the excellence of her physics research last week, walking away with a £2,000 prize.

Hannah presented her physics research to dozens of politicians, including Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, and a panel of expert judges, as part of the poster competition SET for Britain, on Monday 12 March.

Her research, which involves using mathematical models to gauge the likeliness of a weather forecast being correct, was judged against 29 other shortlisted researchers’ work, and was highly-regarded by the judges and politicians alike.

Hannah explains, “One of the reasons why the weather forecast is sometimes wrong is that approximations must be made.  My research uses mathematics to calculate the probability of the weather forecast being correct.”  

On winning the prize, Hannah said, “I was very surprised but delighted to be awarded this prize! It's great that our work has received recognition, and hopefully this will increase awareness of the importance of using these kind of techniques as a method for improving both weather and climate forecasts.”

Hannah’s planning to use her winnings to attend an academic conference in the US later this year.

The competition, SET for Britain, takes place in the House of Commons and aims to help politicians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base, while also rewarding some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, Airbus/EADS, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, AgChem Access, Oxford Instruments, IBMS and GE Hitachi. 

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 
 
“These early career scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

SET 2012 Hannah Arnold

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