Final session here I come!
Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin until 1995, then Queens’ University Belfast (BSc and MSc 1995-1999), then PhD at the University of Glasgow (2001-2006)
Bachelor and Master of Science, PhD
Adelaide University, Australia, and the University of Glasgow
Univeristy of Glasgow
Favourite thing to do in my job Playing with lasers!
I’m part of an international effort to build a spaceborne gravitational wave observatory.
I am a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. I am an experimental physicist – I like to build experiments to try and measure physical phenomena. Mainly this involves developing, building and testing experiments to make incredibly precise length measurements – these will then be used to help us observe gravitational waves.
My work focussed on the space-based area, where we are interested in observing gravitational waves that have been generated by truly enormous astrophysical events, like black holes that are a million times more massive than our Sun colliding!
My Typical Day
Meetings, sitting in front of a computer, and hopefully some lab time!
Space missions are very expensive and involve large collaborations with people from all over the world. This means that a lot of planning is needed, so there are many meetings with colleagues and writing documents. Eventually, though, it is time to go to the lab and conduct the experiments we have been planning.
My time is very flexible, no two days are quite the same. The people who work in my field are all very motivated, and work very hard to achieve our goals.
What I'd do with the money
Make a demonstration to show how light can be an excellent ruler!
What do you do when you want to measure distances that are millions of times smaller than the width of a human hair? The short answer is… use light! Light is an oscillating electromagnetic field, and these oscillations are very small, and very regular. If you can measure how many oscillations there have been between the two things you want to measure the separation of, you can make incredibly fine distance measurements.
If I won, I could make a display ‘ruler’ using light. I could then take it to schools to give students a feeling for how incredibly sensitive these measurements can be, and explain how light makes a superb ruler.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Physicist, enthusiastic, practical
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Being part of the enormous international effort to detect gravitational waves
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Many people, too many to single any out
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A professional snooker player (hopefully)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Made my son laugh!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be happy, healthy and have interesting things to do
Tell us a joke.
What’s brown and sticky? [A stick]