Joyce van Dalen

Joyce van Dalen
It is so exciting to learn about the amazing physics that describes our universe and frontiers of our knowledge about space.
Joyce van Dalen
Particle and Astrophysics
Previous education
Bachelor's Physics and Astronomy

Joyce van Dalen is a first-year Master's student Particle and Astrophysics at Radboud University.

What do you like about the specialisation and why? 

The Master’s programme in Physics and Astronomy is the perfect fit for me. I did my Bachelor’s in the same field at Radboud University, where I found the classes well-organised, engaging, and compelling. Similarly, in the Master’s, the content is fascinating and taught by experts who bring their subject to life through their own experiences. They encourage questions, participation, and input from students and always make time to discuss subjects in more detail.

My chosen specialisation, Particle and Astrophysics, offers courses on subjects which I am passionate about, such as stellar evolution, gravitational waves, and black holes. It is so exciting to learn about the amazing physics that describes our universe and frontiers of our knowledge about space! Due to the combination of Particle and Astrophysics, I can also follow courses on the interface between these two fields, which are often connected.

I truly appreciate the freedom to tailor the programme to my own interests, although it can be really challenging to pick from all the great courses! The courses have a high level and generally require a lot of hard work. I spend most of my week at the University attending lectures, reading books and papers, or working on assignments, computer codes, presentations, and reports.

What do you think about the atmosphere in class?

One of the nice things about the programme are the small classes, which allow for close interactions, discussions, and engagement with my fellow students, teaching assistants, and Professors. The other students are just as passionate, dedicated, and curious about Particle and Astrophysics as I am. We frequently discuss our interests, work together on exercises, and help each other out. The Professors are very approachable and always make time for their students. You can really see that most Professors are passionate about teaching us, especially through the way talk about frontier research and their own experiences!

What do you find most challenging in your Master’s specialisation?

The most challenging thing in the Master’s specialisation for me is managing all my courses. I usually take more courses than strictly required, which means my schedule can be overfull and I have to work hard to meet all the deadlines. However, the courses are well-organised, so I rarely have lectures at the same time. I also had no trouble adjusting to the courses. When courses start, the Professors usually ask about our prior knowledge so they can adjust their courses to our needs. For instance, Professors recommend us literature or take the time to explain things in more detailed if necessary. Since there are also some mandatory courses at the start of the first year, even students with little prior experience in Particle and Astrophysics can succeed in this Master’s if they put in the time.

Are you currently doing an internship? Or what is your thesis about?

Thanks to the help of the faculty of the Astronomy department, I will likely go abroad for my research internship! When I was looking for an internship, several Professors made time to meet with me to discuss their work and possible projects to work on. They propose exciting projects which offer me a chance to go to new places and connect with the Astrophysics community. As an internship student, you are also invited by the department to join their meetings, colloquia, and social gatherings to get to know the members of the department and their work.

What are your plans once have received your Master's degree?

I believe the courses and research internship provides graduates with the foundational knowledge and research skills needed to become successful in both academia and industry. For instance, the programme has provided me with skills for which there is high demand, such as critical thinking, data analysis, and programming. Since I am planning to dedicate my career to Astrophysics research, learning how to conduct, write, and present my research has been very useful. Furthermore, the opportunity to work with one of my Professors during the research internship will provide me with the tacit knowledge on how to conduct frontier research. Therefore, this Master's is the perfect start of my research career!