Jess is in her 2nd Year as a PGR in the XM2 Metamaterials CDT. She is working on a project on phononic crystals and acoustic microfluidics.




Earlier this year I fulfilled one of my oldest childhood dreams by representing Exeter on University Challenge! I made it onto the team by obtaining one of the four highest scores on a written test of questions circulated by the production team, and our team made it through several more interview stages to get to the televised rounds.

The other team members were all undergraduates, and as I had tried out for the team three times while I was one, finally making the team as a postgraduate was very exciting. Our training consisted of working through questions from old episodes, while using buzzers with farm animal noises! We were each assigned other subjects alongside our specialities, and finding as much easily-absorbed information as possible about Literature (how broad!) was very challenging! You never quite know when that little nugget of information might be useful!

We eventually found out how much our preparation had paid off when we travelled up to Salford for filming. The process is very intense, especially as you find your way to your seat accompanied by the Game of Thrones theme tune! Our albatross mascot (NOT a seagull, though perhaps that would have been more appropriate!) is called Albus, for those wondering. The matches are all filmed in real time which is pretty scary, especially under the glare of Jeremy Paxman! The names are called out live which makes things stressful particularly towards the end of matches, and I was so desperate to hear ‘Exeter – Brown’ if the right starter question came up! It was such a fantastic experience though, and I will never forget it, even if it was a bit of a blur at the time!

A few months later, our match was broadcast in July, kicking off the new series – watching it back (accompanied by friends and few glasses of prosecco!) was a bizarre experience, especially looking at Twitter afterwards! After a strong start from us and an incredibly close game, we lost by 15 points to Warwick. You’ll have to tune in later in the series to see if we come back as highest-scoring losers… Meanwhile I’m continuing my research in Acoustic Metamaterials!

We’re hopefully planning to reunite the team at the famous Firehouse Quiz – maybe see you there one Monday!

Written By: Jessica Brown