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Sir William Perkins’s School:1998-2005, Royal Holloway University: 2005 – 2009
Masters in Physics; Diploma in Speech and Drama; A-levels – Maths, Physics, Chemistry; AS-Levels – Further Maths, Classical Civilisations, Critical Thinking
Longacers Garden Centre (floristry assistant), Internship at RHUL (lasers!), Internship at DESY (Berlin, particle detectors for use at places like CERN)
PhD at Cardiff University.
I’m an astrophysicst looking at the cosmic dust in galaxies that are right on the limit of what we can see. They are so far away that they just look like fuzzy blobs, but we can tell a lot from those fuzzy blobs. I’m trying to work out how far away and old they all are so we can track how galaxies grow and age.
To look at them we use a very fancy infrared camera, the Herschel Space Observatory that’s currently floating out on the other side of the moon looking at the universe.
My Typical Day:
I try to work out new ways to understand the universe using the infrared
Most of my days are spent in my office looking at all the information that’s being sent back from Herschel and trying to understand what it all means. To do that takes a lot of answering emails, doing telephone conferences and writing programs to interpret data. Once I think I know what I’m looking at I spend a few months writing a paper to tell people what I’ve done. We’ve never looked at this bit of the spectrum before really, so everything’s new and no one really knows how to do it yet.
I have some untypical days as well. Those tend to involve going to conferences all over the world or taking arduous trips to observatories in terrible parts of the world like Arizona, Hawaii and Australia.
What I'd do with the prize money:
Buy a telescope to help schools set up their own astronomy clubs and activities
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative. Cheery. Clumsy.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No. Well… not unless you count accidentally collapsing the set during a performance of ‘Bugsy’. I’m somewhat accident prone.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Currently Show of Hands but that will change by the end of the week no doubt. I like everything!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Become a best selling author. Travel all over the world and see everywhere I want to. Be able to eat as much cake as I want with no judgement or bad effects.
Tell us a joke.
How does the moon cut his hair? ‘E-clipse it!