Scientist of the week! I'm thrilled,thanks everyone !
EducationCity of Norwich School, Aberystwyth University, University Centre in Svalbard
QualificationsGCSEs, A-Levels, Master of Physics
Work HistoryMurderers (pub), Website Designer, Lab Tech, Demonstrator, PhD Student
Current JobPhD Student
Favourite thing to do in my job: Travel around the world and meet lots of people
About Me: I am an Astrophysicist/Astronomer, doing my PhD at the university of Warwick
I like the universe (I live in it so I kind of have to really), but there’s so much going on and so much to understand that learning about it seemed like a really good idea. When I started my A-levels, my mum bought me a book called “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. After reading that book, there was no turning back. I wanted to become a scientist.
I studied Astrophysics in a little seaside town called Aberystwyth, during my time there I figured out that I wanted to become a lecturer. For my Masters, I moved all the way to Svalbard (in the arctic circle) to study the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). I was measuring the Solar Wind speed when the announcement of the first Gravitational Wave detection was made. This rekindled my enthusiasm to study black holes and all things space time. So, after completing my masters I started a PhD looking for the explosions caused by colliding black holes and neutron stars.
Aside from science, I also enjoy running , playing piano, and playing video games.
My Work: I'm looking for the explosions caused by colliding Black holes and Neutron Stars
The explosion is called a Kilonova, and is responsible for almost all the heavy elements like silver, gold, and mercury! They’re a lot like supernovae, except they only last about a few days before we can’t see them anymore. Kilonova are the fireworks that come with Gravitational Waves!
I also have a keen interest in exoplanets and life outside the Solar System. Because heavy objects bend light, called gravitational lensing; we see rings in the sky (see picture below). Planets are not as heavy as stars, meaning they aren’t as good at bending the light. We call this small bend ‘microlensing’. We can use microlensing signatures to detect smaller exoplanets, like Earth!
My Typical Day: So. Much. Science.
My typical day usually starts off with a meeting. In these meetings we discuss recent findings and show off our own research for feedback from the rest of the group. On Mondays and Tuesdays I help with the students laboratory work, showing them how to control electronics with a computer.
An important part of a PhD is staying up to date on what is happening in your field, reading all the new science papers for that day. Once that’s done I get to the grit of my work. Coding and data analyses. I spend a lot of time at a computer solving problems that range from fixing software bugs, to seeing if a little dot is a star or not.
I have also spent a few months of my PhD in the Canary islands, on top of the La Palma mountains. Here I get to work with our brand new Telescope, it’s designed to look at big chunk of sky quickly so we can spot short lived events like supernova. It’s beautiful there.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Geeky, Ambitious, Cheerful
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Dr.Who
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I finished school
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was usually told off for doodling in my workbooks
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I'd probably be a computer technician... or a Gremlin
Who is your favourite singer or band?
21 Pilots / Childish Gambino
What's your favourite food?
Pretty much anything from Wagamama's
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Midnight snowboarding (the sun doesn't set for half the year in Svalbard)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Immortality, Infinite wealth , and a Machine that exercises for me.
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a snake that's 3.14 meters long? A πthon