Photo of Birmingham student wins Clear Direction Award

Birmingham student wins Clear Direction Award


Congratulations to George Hodson, the winner of the 2019 Clear Direction Award! The award, which encourages students to abandon their technical jargon and speak in layman terms, is a collaboration between the team here at Forresters, and the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

Dr Jagvir Purewal, senior associate in our Birmingham office, was one of the judges and helped devise the competition, which is now in its sixth year. “We were very impressed with George as he wasn’t just confident and articulate but also enthusiastic about his subject,” said Dr Purewal. “He made a complicated topic easy to follow, which isn’t easy as students can often be in their own world and are more comfortable talking with their peers in technical language. However, when they are in a professional setting they will have to explain their subject in simple terms that everyone can understand.

“I discovered this myself after gaining my PhD at the University of Birmingham. A few years ago I returned and met with one of my advisors, Mike Gunn and told him about my interview with Forresters where I was asked about my PhD and my research. I found it quite difficult to explain my research to a non-physicist, as I had never done that before.

“From that meeting, we came up with the idea of helping physics students become better communicators and teaching them to enhance their verbal skills. We named it the Clear Direction Award because patent law can be quite a complicated area, so when we at Forresters advise clients we always aim to be as clear as possible and use language that they fully understand.”

George’s subject, weak value amplification, involves exploiting a statistical trick to measure the angle of a mirror to extremely high precision. In the realm of quantum mechanics, where measurements are often limited not by the instruments but by the laws of physics themselves, any improvements in the precision of a measurement are considered a significant victory.

George said: “Presenting my project in simple terms was actually very refreshing because it’s quite rare as a student that you step back to consider how your work is understood by people outside physics. I was thrilled to be given the award and am grateful to Forresters for running the competition.”

Head of School, Professor Mike Gunn added: “The School of Physics and Astronomy values highly its relationship with Forresters, especially through the Clear Direction competition. The opportunity this provides for physics students to understand how they can potentially apply their skills to real-world situations is powerful. We also are very proud that a number of our students have gone on to have successful careers with Forresters.”