Alumni - Mark Burns

Andrew Wignall

Mark Burns

When I started at MHS, I was the only one from my primary school but found it very welcoming and I made friends quickly. I studied at MHS between 2005-2010 and it took me all that time to even have a vague sense of what I wanted to do. I enjoyed most of my classes, so I found it difficult to narrow down what I really wanted moving forward. Perhaps without such wonderful teachers, it would have been an easier choice! In particular, Mr Baxter my form tutor and Resistance Materials teacher, Mr Knights my Physics teacher (who you can also read about on the alumni page), and Mr Shiplee who taught Chemistry.

Each of which taught me much more than simply what was in the curriculum and I still carry many of the lessons I was taught by them.

My most memorable experience from MHS must be going to Namibia to do work experience painting and renovating a rural school! It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am very grateful for.

As the years rolled by, I found myself increasingly passionate about Science and Technology, so after studying triple science at GCSE, I carried on with Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths (and Further Maths) at college. If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in science yourself, then some advice I would give is to try and not be too broad when picking your college options. At the time I thought that studying all the sciences would give me more choices, which it did. But in hindsight it would have been more beneficial to focus on a particular area and some supporting subjects. For example, not studying Biology or Chemistry but instead Computer science and Electronics.

After I finished college, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in Physics as particle physics and cosmology were very popular at the time. So, I elected to study for a Masters at the University of Southampton. Here I found that the extra-curricular opportunities offered at MHS armed me well for public speaking and independent study. Serving as Head Boy in year 11 for instance allowed me to practice speaking in front of large crowds, as you might when presenting research at university. During my degree I visited MHS several times to give talks on pursuing science in further education and attempt to teach some laser physics. I found very quickly that teaching is harder than it looks so please cut your teachers some slack!

In my degree I developed a strong interest in Photonics, the study of light. Therefore, after my Masters I continued my education and pursued a PhD in Optoelectronics (at Southampton) where I developed lasers and attained my Doctorate in Physics. I now work as a Senior Scientist at QinetiQ on the UK Dragonfire project and manage a team of frustratingly brilliant scientists.

‘I’d much rather be happy than right any day’ Slartibartfast, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.