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By day Mark is a clinical systems developer within the NHS specialising mainly in Pathology and Radiology software. By night he is an amateur astrophysicist, with interests in extreme environment astrophysics, and extrasolar planets.
Mark is currently an undergraduate with the Open University working toward a BSc (Hons) Open Degree specialising in Astrophysics. He has GCSE’s in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Astronomy, A-Levels in Physics, Chemistry & Maths and a Level 4 front line management from the Institute of Leadership & Management. Mark is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Member of Institute of Physics and a Committee member for the Wells & Mendip Astronomers.
Mark Woodland FRAS
Mark’s main interest is the study of high energy compact objects especially black holes. He’s always had an interest in physics and space sciences, especially with his uncle having worked for MDA Robotics (who build Canada arm for the shuttles and ISS). Mark learnt very early on that to be able to write the ‘poetry of the universe’ (physics), he had to be able to speak ‘the language of it’ (maths). This posed quite a problem because he was terrible at maths. That had been his main driving force, and he has learnt to love mathematics.
Mark always wanted to be able to share his passion for science and astronomy and jumped at the chance to join his local astronomy club where he regularly gives lectures and help run all sorts of outreach activities. Mark has also done work for the IoP “Physics in the Field” events, I’ve worked with the WMA at their open-days and International Space Week nights. I’ve given lectures for BBC Stargazing Live events.
In 2014 I (with a friend) Mark set up the Charterhouse Exoplanet Project, which utilise the Charterhouse Observatory’s 18.25” telescope. The project was started to give other young people an opportunity to get hands on practical experience in astronomy research. The project is also one of the first group of official outreach partners of the TWINKLE space telescope (a fully UK funded exoplanet space telescope project).
Mark did not always know that he wanted to become a physicist. When he was young, Mark wanted to be an Egyptologist, having a real interest in ancient history. However, knowing that he would have to study modern history for A-level put him off the idea. At that time, he also had a very good physics teacher, and soon realised that he really enjoyed asking the deep questions about the workings of the universe, sure enough, Mark then decided that physics was my path, and he’s never looked back!
Mark is volunteering with GlamSci, as he believes that any project doing science outreach is a good cause, and any project doing science outreach trying to get the “hard do reach” or “under represented” areas is even better! He deems that Physics always has the misconception of being a male field of study, but actually a lot of major players in physics have been female (Marie Curie, Jocelyne Bell Burnell etc), and it is really key to get rid of that stereotype. He also thinks it’s also really important to show everyone that, you don’t have to be a maths genius to do well in science!