I started my position at the Albert Einstein Institute in mid-November, but I was already around since late October. The Institute was hosting a course on working with and maintaining the aLIGO laser that is operating in the LIGO observatories in Livingston and Hanford for some LIGO scientists, and I gladly took the chance to join in on learning about the maintenance of this system. During my previous studies, I had never worked with a high power laser, so it was a big learning experience and a great way of getting used to these devices.

After the course finished in late November, there were new tasks waiting for me already. My work at the AEI over the next few years would include control and stabilization techniques very frequently, however this was another area of physics my degree hadn’t covered! Hence I was given an advanced undergraduate lab to work through that would cover all aspects of basic control theory in relation to optical cavities and allow me to learn by doing. Along with several smaller tasks, this has occupied the remainder of my time here so far, and while the progress isn’t always as quick as I would like, I know I am acquiring skills that will be essential in my future research, and am very grateful for the support I am receiving from everyone here at the AEI, both within my group and outside it.

Returning to Germany came with a great change of scenery, and I am really lucky to have found so many friendly and supportive people to help me feel at home, both geographically in Hanover and scientifically in the field of laser stabilization.

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