• Question: how long has science been your passion?

    Asked by 522fasp32 to Kathryn on 14 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Kathryn Coldham

      Kathryn Coldham answered on 14 Nov 2018: last edited 14 Nov 2018 12:59 am

      Great question! I always loved science at school but it was when I was 13 years old that I knew I wanted to become a scientist. This was when the machine I currently work on, called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), started up. This is a big, ring-shaped machine near Geneva, Switzerland, that smashes particles together at speeds close to that of light, recreating conditions from just after the Big Bang! Scientists can then hunt for new particles and also learn more about the particles we have already found. (More info about the LHC can be found here: https://home.cern/science/accelerators/large-hadron-collider).

      When I was 17, I decided to apply for a work experience placement to work on the LHC. I had zero research experience at that time (I was just a sixth form student and I am from a working class background) and no one in my family is a scientist. So I decided to send out lots of emails with a CV and a cover letter (which is a bit like a CV but is written more like a letter and links your experiences to the specific job you’re applying for). This email was forwarded to a physicist who went on to supervise my placement in the following summer!

      There’s actually a video about my first work placement at CERN, if you’d like to get more of an idea about what it’s like to do a work experience placement there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2zOOoM5BOg

      It was an incredible experience that really cemented my passion for science. I have worked at CERN again during university (which includes as a CERN Summer Student. You can find more info about here: https://home.cern/summer-student-programme) and also at a research centre in Germany called DESY (you can find about the DESY summer student programme here: http://summerstudents.desy.de/). I am now a PhD student at Brunel University London, working on the CMS experiment (which is part of the LHC).

      Feel free to ask any more questions, happy to answer them! 😀