I am now on the verge to start my fourth and final year as a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, with my GraWIToN contract ending within a month. However, I have received six months of extended funding through my University, and I am aiming on submitting my thesis by the end of this period, which means by the end of March 2018. Currently, the thesis is still in a planning phase (i.e. I have not yet started to write it), but this will go into a more active writing phase by the start of October 2017. I have recently published my first first-author paper with the title "Multi-spatial-mode effects in squeezed-light-enhanced gravitational wave detectors", where we show how squeezed light is affected by spatial mode mismatches, and that squeezing higher-order modes potentially can mitigate the negative effects of spatial mode mismatches. This paper, together with alignment sensing and contrl modelling for advanced LIGO, and longitudinal sensing and contrl modelling for advanced Virgo, will constitute integral parts of my thesis.

We have had two GraWIToN network schools since the last newsletter. The first one was in Hannover and focused on lasers, optics, and optical simulations. I found it interesting and useful both for learning and discussing work topics and for networking with the other attendees. Especially, I enjoyed the lectures on non-classical light. The second network school was at Virgo site outside Pisa and taught us communication and management of large projects, and it ended with us GraWIToNs spending a half day conceptually designing an outreach exhibition together with school kids. The science communication part was interesting and certainly important to work on, and the last outreach event was fun and a good experience. However, I cannot say that I was very susceptible to learn how to manage large projects – even though I do find it interesting in general, and it may potentially be of importance in my future career – but it did not feel very relevant at the moment, and at the time I was too stressed out with my own work to be fully focused.

I spent two months in the end of last year (2016) at the Virgo site, close to Pisa in Italy. I mainly worked on modelling how mirror misalignments affect the longitudinal contrl of the near-unstable power recycling cavity of the gravitational wave detector Advanced Virgo. This proved to be more challenging than expected, as so often with optical modelling. The challenge was to understand how to accurately model the combination of a near-unstable cavity and misaligned mirrors, which creates relatively large perturbations to the ideally Gaussian-shaped laser beam. However, we ultimately learned how to successfully perform the simulations. I had two interesting and fun months of long working days in the Virgo contrl room, where I was sitting among the commissioning team that intensively were working towards joining Advanced LIGO in its search for more gravitation wave sources. I also enjoyed the experience of living and working in Italy, being surrounded by the Italian food, culture and language.

I have had the pleasure of being a GraWIToN for nearly three years now. The Marie Curie actions programme has meant many things to me. When agreeing to come to the University of Birmingham to work as an early stage researcher (ESR), the Marie Curie Actions programme meant that I did not have to give up a taxable income with social security benefits for the opportunity to go to UK to do my PhD, which definitely made my choice to accept the offer much easier. During my time as a GraWIToN ESR, the programme has given me a great group of people around Europe that I have felt connected to, and always been looking forward to meet at network schools and conferences. The programme took me to Germany and Italy for totally 3 months to collaborate with other physicists. The generous travel budget has allowed me to travel to many conferences and meetings around the world to give talks and present posters, which has increased my visibility in the field and provided great network opportunities. All of these are experiences that I value very highly, both professionally for my future career, and personally on a private level.

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