Sherrardswood School, Welwyn, Knights Templar School, Baldock, University of York, University of Sussex
Master's degree in Physics (York), PhD in Experimental Particle Physics (Sussex)
Summer placements at DESY (big German lab) and CERN, then PhD
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
My connections to STFC science and technology:
STFC pay me! Also, they manage all UK involvement in CERN, so my job wouldn't need to exist otherwise. They have been kind enough to give me an office.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Make computer code run faster
Particle physicist for CERN, based at a UK lab
I live in Reading with my wife, a former particle physicist now working as a government climate change analyst.
In my spare time I like hiking, playing the piano, and visiting unusual museums.
I write code to make sure we record the right data from the Large Hadron Collider and throw away the wrong data. Otherwise we run out of storage space REALLY quickly.
What I'd do with the prize money
Pay for schools in disadvantaged areas to visit my lab
Every year my lab holds a Particle Physics Masterclass for 700 A-level students, where they learn about particle physics and get to visit our particle accelerators. It’s the biggest event of its kind in the world, and I really enjoy helping with the hands-on sessions. It’s a great way to talk face-to-face to students about science and see scientists as more human.
For some schools, the cost of transport to the lab is too high: if I win I’d like to use the money to help schools from disadvantaged areas to visit.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Me, myself, I
What's the best thing you've ever done in your career?
Helped to find the Higgs boson in 2012, along with 3000+ colleagues
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Reading the Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose convinced me to do physics A-Level instead of economics.
What was your favourite subject at school?
French and German: physics at school felt too much like memorising facts
What did you want to be after you left school?
From ages 4 to 18: fireman, fighter pilot, lawyer, physicist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, a few times over the years. During my first week of sixth form I was handed a basketball: without thinking I bounced it on the floor, so hard that it hit the ceiling and broke a ceiling tile. I then had to explain to the head of year what I'd done...
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I think it could be fun to be a lawyer, or maybe another kind of scientist
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
A snowboarding trip when I lived in Geneva.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I would wish for the usual things like world peace and a solution to climate change, but your typical genie would just kill all humans and say "job done". So I'd wish for a decent spaceship and then decide on the next two wishes during my travels.
Tell us a joke.
What did the inflatable headmaster tell the inflatable boy who brought a pin into the inflatable school? You've let me down. You've let the whole school down. But worst of all, you've let yourself down.