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Press release

  • 4 September 2007

Physics students are finalists for national science award

Physics finalist: Paul Skrzypczyk

Physics finalist: Paul Skrzypczyk

Physics finalist: Robert Zietal

Physics finalist: Robert Zietal

Outstanding University of Sussex physics graduates Robert Zietal and Paul Skrzypczyk are vying for a top science prize.

Robert, who worked as a chef to support himself through his studies, and Paul were chosen from hundreds of students for the Best Physics Student category in the Science, Engineering and Technology Students of the Year Awards (SET Awards).

The National Physical Laboratory Award for the Best Physics Student title is awarded by a panel from the Institute of Physics to the student judged to be the best final-year undergraduate nationwide. Paul and Robert represent Sussex in the physics category, in a shortlist of just three students.

Each student now faces a final interview before the winners are announced at a special dinner at Alexandra Palace, London, on 20 September, attended by leaders from the world of business, technology and the media. An overall winner from all the category winners will also be named SET Student of the Year.

Robert, who graduated this summer with an MPhys in Theoretical Physics, assisted Senior Lecturer Dr Claudia Eberlein in a research project, which became his final-year project. The work was eventually published this year in Physical Review. Dr Eberlein, who nominated both Robert and Paul for the award, says: "Robert's standard of work is well above not just that of undergraduates but even that of most graduate students. He is a brilliant student, but what really makes the difference is his unrivalled dedication to research. Working long hours in a hot kitchen is hard, but he still had the energy and dedication to study to exceptionally high standards."

Robert is now continuing research as a DPhil student at Sussex, and will be working with Dr Eberlein on a new research project, looking at the behaviour of single atoms.

Paul, who is now studying for a doctorate in quantum information at the University of Bristol, also graduated with a Theoretical Physics MPhys. He impressed both Dr Eberlein and his supervisor, Professor Gabriel Barton, with his outstanding research and exceptionally high marks throughout his four-year degree course. Dr Eberlein says: "Paul's project work and thesis almost reached the standard of a doctoral thesis. We are very impressed."

Dr Eberlein adds: "Getting not just one but two students on a shortlist of three is an outstanding achievement."

It is not the first time that the University of Sussex Physics department has seen success at these awards. In 2000, physics student Emma King made history by winning both the Physics Student of the Year award and the overall SET Student of the Year award.

Notes for editors


Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing. Tel 01273 678 888 or email

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