Stellar Student Shines

Year 13 Colfox student Thaisen Chant has won a prestigious place presenting to the Royal Society in London.

Thaisen completed his Nuffield Research Placement ‘How does the composition of a star change throughout its lifetime?’ under the mentorship of Brian Sheen at Roseland Observatory in Cornwall.

Thaisen, currently studying Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Chemistry in the Beaminster Colfox Joint Sixth Form, applied to complete the project whilst in Year 12. The project was commended by the Nuffield Foundation for the quality of research and his written report, which showed Thaisen’s ‘flair for science and scientific communication’.

Using astro-spectroscopy to develop a greater understanding of how the composition of stars change throughout their lifetime, Thaisen used cutting-edge equipment to capture a range of light from distant stars. The resulting images were studied, enabling the identification of the stars; their chemical composition and temperature. This information was then used to work out the age of the stars.

Thaisen has been selected to present his stellar research at the Royal Society Student Conference, London, in December. This event is highly competitive and only five students from over 1,000 applicants were selected. The conference will celebrate student research projects from across the UK, putting young researchers centre stage and supporting investigative science in schools and colleges.

Rachel Delourme, Nuffield co-ordinator, said ‘Thaisen was dedicated, creative, hard-working and resilient. His research is outstanding and a credit to him and his mentor. I am very proud that Thaisen has been selected to present his work at the Royal Society Conference.’ Adam Teasdale, Head of Sixth Form at Colfox Academy, said: ‘Thaisen dedicates himself completely to everything he does, whether in his studies or as part of the many extra-curricular activities he is involved in. He is truly exceptional, having passed GCSE Astronomy aged 13, volunteering at the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Devon and working in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. I am not surprised Thaisen has been selected to present at the Royal Society. He is a very talented student indeed and we are all very proud of him.’

In characteristically humble fashion, Thaisen added: ‘I’m really chuffed! This was a great opportunity to work with leading professionals. The project allowed me to use equipment that I would never have had a chance to use. It was a privilege. I would like to thank Colfox, Brian and Rachel for this incredible opportunity.’

The Royal Society Conference gives students the opportunity to contribute and share their findings. Students build resilience by learning how to talk about their data and by taking part in academic peer review processes. The conference also allows students to network with others interested in their field of study.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Nuffield Research Placements please visit their website:

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