A FORMER student of Portadown College has graduated from Oxford University as a Doctor of Philosophy in Atomic and Laser Physics.
Philip Bustard - the son of John and Claire Bustard of Renmore Avenue, off the Armagh Road - graduated on Saturday, after making the journey home from the Canadian capital of Ottawa where he is working on a research project in the Governmental Research Laboratory of Canada.
Dr Bustard gained his D.Phil through Oriel College, Oxford, of which Professor Ernest Nicholson - a former pupil of Hart Memorial Primary School, Portadown Technical College and Portadown College - was Provost until he retired in 2003. Coincidentally, Dr Bustard’s mother is a teacher at ‘The Hart’, and his father is an accountant at Craigavon Area Hospital.
They are a well-known Portadown family, with the past generation having owned Bustard’s shoe shop in Thomas Street.
Dr Bustard’s thesis of the futuristic subject has been bound and delivered to him, and a copy now rests in the world-famous Bodleian library at Oxford, among thousands of other scholarly works.
He described his research thus - “Lasers allow us to routinely generate extremely brief and powerful pulses of light. My colleagues and I develop techniques to control and investigate the motion of molecules and atoms using laser pulses. This is part of a larger drive to build new quantum technologies based on the application of light in microscopic systems.”
His doctorate is the end result of 10 years’ study at Oxford. From 2001-05 he studied for his Masters Degree in Physics, followed by post-graduation studies which culminated in his graduation on Saturday.
He speaks fondly of his days at Portadown College, pointing out that fellow pupil J.P. Hadden is carrying out similar research at the University of Bristol and that they especially thank teachers like Mrs Marion Hammond, Mr Uel Fulton, Mrs Diane Kane and Mrs Dorothy McCaughey. Philip gained four A-level ‘A’ grades, in chemistry, physics, maths and further maths at the College.
Dr Bustard is on a contract with the Ottawa laboratory, and when it finishes he will decide whether his future will be in research or in industry.
Still, it hasn’t been all work and no play during his decade at Oxford, where he especially enjoyed sport, including basketball and volleyball and particularly golf at which he was a seven-handicapper at Tandragee GC before heading off to Oxford.
He captained the university’s second string team and played several famous courses in the south of England and Wales, from Royal St George’s - the scene of Darren Clarke’s Open triumph last month - to Royal Porthcawl in Wales.
“But now at the age of 28, I’ll have to work for a living,” he joked, as he prepared to return to Canada this weekend.