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School of Mathematical Sciences

PhD student spotlight - Lian Cottrell on visiting the Weizmann Institute of Science

PhD student Lian Cottrell recently spent eight months as a visiting student at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. We spoke to him about his experience and the academic and cultural opportunities available to our PhD students. 

PhD student Lian Cottrell at Caesarea National Park, Israel

The Weizmann Institute of Science is surrounded by nature and provides a tranquil atmosphere for deep thinking. The Michael Kern Building, where I resided with fifteen other visiting students, facilitated daily interactions with scientists from diverse backgrounds and fostered a cross-cultural exchange of ideas and experiences. The Weizmann Institute organised various activities, including bus trips to different destinations across Israel. I had the opportunity to take part in an archaeological dig in the caves of Beit Guvrin and explore the Ein Avdat canyon. During religious holidays, we were treated to traditional foods, immersing us further in the local culture. 

A particularly memorable highlight was delivering my first talk at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presenting my research on a lower bound for the bandwidths of periodic approximations to discrete ergodic Schrödinger operators. I also regularly attended analysis seminars and learning groups at Tel Aviv University. At Weizmann, Sasha Sodin (QMUL) organised an interesting lecture series on Localisation. I have dedicated my own research to studying the quantum dynamical behaviour of quasiperiodic Schrödinger operators with Liouville frequencies. 

Exploring Israel from south to north, with stops at Eilat, the Dead Sea, the Negev Desert, Jerusalem, and Haifa, was an incredible adventure, despite the minor setback of our car running out of oil in the middle of the desert, under the scorching sun. I will have a hard time finding hummus better tasting than the ones served in Tel Aviv. Overall, my time as a visiting student at the Weizmann Institute has been transformative, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to visit. 



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