Outgoing: Chloé, Francesca and Charles from the PCCP Master program

Chloé Miossec, Francesca Lorenzutti and Charles Boury are three recent University of Bordeaux graduates, having obtained their degree in Physical-Chemistry and Chemical-Physics. Read about their mobility experiences within the framework of this international Master program.

The Physical-Chemistry and Chemical-Physics (PCCP) program aims to integrate Master students within academic and industrial fields of fundamental physical chemistry. Applications cover scientific fields ranging from nanotechnologies, photonics, optoelectronics and organic electronics, to environmental sensors and detection systems. For more information on the program, please consult this webpage.

Chloé Miossec: from Bordeaux to the University of Perugia, Italy 

Chloé Miossec, PCCP student (2017 – 2019)

Chloé integrated the PCCP Master program in 2017, spending her second year six-month research internship at the University of Perugia, Italy.

Why did you choose the PCCP Master program? 

I developed a strong interest for physical chemistry at the very start of my studies at the University of Bordeaux, thanks to a professor who told us about his ongoing research project in astrochemistry. After my Bachelor, the PCCP Master program was ideal for my career plan and the course content was very complete. The international aspect of the training was an obvious asset!

What were your expectations and objectives for your mobility experience?  

Despite a previous mobility at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the United States for the third of my Bachelor, I didn't really know what to expect. I was nervous about my level of Italian, which I had studied briefly before leaving, yet it remained basic. I wasn't particularly worried about exchanging with my colleagues as I already knew my internship supervisor and the doctoral students spoke English, but was a little more anxious about day-to-day life. 

My objective was of course to learn as much as possible about the field I was going to be working in and to make the most of the opportunity to further improve my English, especially in a research context. I also wanted to participate in city life as much as possible, and to meet Italians with whom I could discover the country!

What did you learn from this international experience?

From a research perspective, I learnt a lot about my area of interest, its different branches and its important international players. Communicating was also a great learning experience for me, as I had to juggle between Italian and English, and adapt to the different ways my team members spoke. It’s safe to say that my Italian has drastically improved!

I was also a member of the female Perugia rugby team, which allowed me to discover a lot more about Italian culture, as I was able to take part in family get-togethers and city parties.

What is your favorite memory of your experience? 

Being part of the Perugia rugby team was an amazing opportunity and brings back great memories. In particular, our bus trips to play against other cities, often quite far away, were both a chance to see other parts of Italy and to get to know my team members better.

What are your current projects? 

After graduating, I enrolled in a doctoral degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, of which I’ve just stared my second year. I’m happy to say that I now work in a field related to astrochemistry: my research project is to build a machine able to study reactions between ions and radicals in an environment close to interstellar conditions. Upon completion of my PhD, my objective is to continue working in research, and particularly towards the development of devices for the study of gas reactions in extreme environments.

Anything else? 

Looking back, my experience as a PCCP student was particularly fulfilling, and I genuinely feel that the program trained me perfectly for both my ongoing and future projects. The Master also provided me with a lot of opportunities to better discover my interests and to meet researchers from different fields in physics and chemistry with whom I was interested in working.

Francesca Lorenzutti: from Italy, to Bordeaux, to Switzerland

Francesca Lorenzutti, PCCP student (2018-2020)

Francesca is an Italian student who moved to Bordeaux in September 2018 to integrate the PCCP Master program. She is currently starting her PhD at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Why did you choose the PCCP Master program?

After my Bachelor at the University of Bologna in Italy, I was looking for opportunities abroad that would allow me to pursue my interest in physical chemistry and materials, and the PCCP Master program was a perfect fit! In addition to the focus on physical chemistry and the program being taught entirely in English, the course also offers a large pool of contacts throughout the world that students may benefit from during their two internships or later on, when looking for a job or a PhD.

What were the main differences you identified between studying in Italy and France?

After spending two years in Bordeaux, I can definitely say that the French university system is quite different from the Italian one. In Italy we are allowed more freedom when it comes to the organization of our timetables and more flexible deadlines. At the same time it’s more complicated to have face-to-face interactions with professors, and the learning process is largely autonomous, the risk being getting lost along the way. I still can't tell whether one system is better than the other!

What did you learn from this international experience?

The reason I chose to move abroad was to experience different lifestyles and exchange with people from different backgrounds, as I believe this is a powerful means of personal growth. Living in France allowed me to pick up the language and a lot of the French culture and lifestyle, and also allowed me to enjoy an international environment and meet people from all over the world. My favorite memory in Bordeaux is the first time I visited Lège-Cap-Ferret, it was my first time experiencing the ocean and I was amazed by the tides!

What are your current projects?

After graduating, I took two well-deserved months off! On September 1st 2020, I started my PhD at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, on the topic of renewable energies. More specifically, my research project is dedicated to pore-level simulations of multi-physical transport in nano-structured photoelectrodes. My PhD is due to span over the next four years, and I’m looking forward to working in a stimulating environment, to exploring a new country and to skiing during the winter!

Charles Boury: a double degree with the Colorado School of Mines, USA

Charles Bourry (right), PCCP student (2017 – 2019), and his Australian lab mate and friend “Samu” (left) - MIT underground, Cambridge, USA

Charles graduated in July 2019, after having followed the dual degree Master program in materials science and physical chemistry between the University of Bordeaux and the Colorado School of Mines in the United States.

Why did you choose the PCCP Master program?

In my opinion, the PCCP Master is the best option if you’re interested in the field of materials science, as the program is a reference in this domain, proposing high level classes delivered by renowned professors. With their guidance, students develop their interest in certain areas of research while covering a wide range of topics, all required for their future scientific careers. Students can also tailor the program to their specific needs, by choosing one or two elective courses.

One of the standouts of this Master is its international mobility opportunities. I spent the first year at the Colorado School of Mines, and enjoyed the Unites States so much that I decided to repeat the experience for my research internship, this time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

What did you learn from these international experiences?

My year at the Colorado School of Mines, located in Golden (CO), was a unique opportunity to discover and embrace a new culture. Celebrating Thanksgiving like a local (meaning spending twelve hours straight eating and drinking), skiing in Breckenridge (if you enjoy skiing, it’s the place to be!), and keg races (Google it!) are some of my favorite memories.

From an academic perspective, I learnt how to be efficient, and most importantly how to follow classes in a foreign language. I was fairly stressed at the beginning, but over time you get used to it and adapt. What did help is that science is the same all over the world, and there were four other French students following the program, which made it easier to ease into things and also made everything so much more fun!

After a semester spent in Bordeaux and another visa application, I arrived in Boston for my nine-month research internship at the end of January 2019. On the first day, the temperatures registered at -15 °C, on the second day, -21 °C, and remained negative until May… Weather aside, my time at the MIT was another great experience, incomparable to the Colorado School of Mines. My work there focused on the characterization of a high temperature molten sulfide electrolyte, which allowed me to put and important part of the knowledge acquired in class to practice.

What fascinated me the most are the opportunities available at MIT: everything is done to make things easier for you so that you can focus on your projects and become an efficient researcher. Would you like to keep fit between two work sessions? Swimming pools, gyms, football fields and even a dock with sailing boats are accessible! Do you need to finish your experiments before tomorrow? You can stay as long as you need to (my personal record is twenty-three hours spent working on scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy).

What are your current projects?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m currently an “online” doctoral student, working on the development of a new electrochemical route for metals production in extreme environments at the MIT. I should be in Boston, however the current situations means I’m spending my first semester in France. One thing’s for sure: I can’t wait to go back!

Updated on 27/10/2020