Favourite Thing: I love it when I’m the first one to see something that no body in the whole world has ever seen before. (Sometimes these things are even useful or interesting, but I don’t always mind either way. )
I did my GCSEs and A-Levels at Halliford School in Shepperton (1997 to 2001), then went to study physics and philosophy at Nottingham University (2002). I actually finished my degree in Physics at Kings College London in 2008. Then went to Imperial College London to do a Masters (2009) and have been doing my PhD at Imperial since (2009 to present).
GCSE’s Biology (A*), Business Studies (A*), Chemistry (A*), Maths (A*), Physics (A*) English Language (B), English literature (B), Design & Technology (C), French (D). A-Levels: A-Level: Maths (A), Physics (A), Chemistry (C). AS: Government and Politics, Further Maths. Physics BSc (with First class honours). Physics MSc ‘Quantum Field Theory and Fundamental Forces’. I’m quite proud of all this because I’m Dyslexic.
At school I worked weekends at a Paint Ball center. Quite a lot of fun, but long hours and low pay. I’ve done various temp jobs over the years, worked as a bar man, and even at Odd Bins. When I was at University I managed to get a job working in a lab one summer and discovered that I really liked it. Then next summer I was lucky enough to get a job as a summer student at CERN, (I was really happy to get paid to do physics). I got to work a bit on turning on the Large Hadron Collider in 2008!
Now I work at Imperial College doing my PhD. I guess I call it work because I get paid to do it, which is the best because I’d probably do it for free if I could. I also teach some of the undergraduates.
Imperial College London and my work is funded by the STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council)
Me and my work
I use some of the most powerful lasers in the world to accelerate things to fly at the speed of light over distances as small as your school ruler, with the aim, among other things, to try and cure cancer.
I work on something called Laser Wake Field Particle Accelerators. A particle accelerator is a device that make little bits of matter (particles) travel really really fast. Scientists tend to use them to smash particles together to find out how the world works, and the most famous one is probably the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at a place called CERN in Switzerland (I used to work there once).
My particle accelerators are different. Their thought of as a possible “next generation” or replacement to the accelerators like the LHC. There made of Plasma, which is a bit like fire. Its what the sun is made of. Its very very hot, and is like a forth state of matter: Solid; Liquid; Gas; and then Plasma.
My Accelerators work by me firing a really powerful laser into the Plasma and making a wave in it. Particles can get caught in the wake of the laser, which is like the wake of a boat in the sea, and the particles kind of surf along. But it’s not the sea its a plasma, and the boat in this case is going at the speed of light. The wave this causes has terrific forces of nature inside it much greater than we get in almost any other place in the world. Something like one thousand times greater than in the LHC.
This means we can make Particle Accelerators a thousand times smaller. (or if we made them the same size a thousand times more powerful). It also makes them over a thousand time cheaper to make, and would fit inside universities and hospitals. I’m working with Cancer Research UK because they think we might be able to use the radiation from my accelerators to find and possibly even treat cancers. If they can they are small enough to fit in every hospital in the world.
There are lots of other things you can do with these Laser Wake Field Particle Accelerators but this a really noble one, and one of the main ones we’re looking at first.
My Typical Day
What I'd do with the money
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Tell us a joke.
There are only 10 types of people in the world people who can count in binary and those that can’t.