My name is Luke and I live in Sheffield where I’m a nuclear researcher working on different kinds of radioactivity in the environment ☢️
When I’m not doing science, I love to go running 🏃, listening to music 🎵, and learning Japanese 🇯🇵!
Hi everyone, my name is Luke Townsend and I’m from Chorley in Lancashire. I currently live in Sheffield where I moved recently for my new job as a postdoctoral researcher in nuclear science.
When I’m not doing my research, I love to be outdoors running or walking. You’ll often find me running around the Peak District or in a local race. I also love watching local football teams play when I can, with Hallam FC being my new local team.
I also love music, with me and my fiancée listening or playing music (guitar and drums) whenever we can and going to see bands live at local gigs.
I also started learning the Japanese language in my spare time last year which has proven very useful as my current research project involves working with colleagues in Japan!
My research is broadly on how different types of radioactivity interact with the environment. It’s important to understand how any radioactivity may move through the environment so that we can keep people safe.
During my PhD, I studied how radioactivity from nuclear waste disposal may interact with and move through the environment. My work was focussed on this area so that we can determine whether the current plan for radioactive waste disposal (which involves building a really complicated facility deep underground) is safe.
My current research project aims to understand how the radioactivity present in the environment from the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster is behaving and how it may impact people. This is important work as we need to know where the radioactivity is within the environment so we can clean it up!
My Typical Day:
The best thing about my job is that each day is different for me which keeps things interesting and exciting! However, usually I get up just before 7 am so that I get into work for 8 am. I then split my time between lab experiments, meetings with my colleagues and collaborators, and lots of data analysis. I usually get home at about 5:30 pm when I head out for a run before my dinner.
As a postdoctoral researcher every day is different for me and this makes my job really interesting and exciting. Not only do I get to do experiment in a lab (including making glass in a REALLY hot oven!), I get to meet and work with some really cool scientists from all around the world (including the USA, Europe, and Japan), and do lots of data analysis to understand what my experiment results mean.
I usually get into work at around 8 am where I’ll start some experiments for the day. Whilst my experiments are on, I can then do some meetings and data analysis. This year, I’ve also started teaching some undergraduate courses where I teach University students about nuclear power.
In the afternoon, I will do some data analysis on my experiment from the morning which might including taking some cool pictures with something known as an electron microscope (this is like a microscope you may have seen/used before but it lets me look at even smaller details on my samples).
When I get home at around 5:30 I tend to go for a run with my running club. I find it’s really helpful to keep fit and healthy whilst doing research as it also helps me relax after a long day of science.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I would use the prize money to host a fun activity day that would help to engagement with nuclear. It would let people meet nuclear researchers in-person so that they can chat and ask questions whilst also taking part in some exciting nuclear-themed games and activities.
Parklands High School (Chorley) [GCSEs]
Cardinal Newman College (Preston) [A-levels]
The University of Manchester (Manchester) [Undergraduate & Postgraduate degrees]
GCSEs in Maths, Science, English, IT, German, French, Geography, Music, and RE.
A-levels in Chemistry, Maths, and Music Technology.
Undergraduate MChem degree in Chemistry with Industrial Experience.
PhD in Environmental Radiochemistry.
My first job as a lifeguard at local swimming pool whilst I studied for my A-levels.
During my undergraduate Chemistry degree I worked as a bar man in the summer break.
For the third year of my degree I worked in the nuclear industry as a Analytical Chemist. This is what sparked my love for research and put me on my path to becoming a nuclear researcher.
During my PhD, I was a teaching assistant and was a private tutor for GCSE Science and A-level Chemistry.
After my PhD, I won a small research fellowship to investigate radioactive waste disposal.
My current job is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield. My research is investigating the radioactivity in the environment from the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
running-loving nuclear researcher
What did you want to be after you left school?
A guitarist in a band 🎸 (which I managed for a while but we weren't very successful...)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not much, I was quite quiet at school
Who is your favourite singer or band?
This changes on a weekly basis but at the moment it's a band called Snail Mail 🐌
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) That I could play guitar and drums as good as I used to be able to; 2) That I could live in Japan; 3) That I could run as much as I wanted without getting injured!
Tell us a joke.
Unfortunately I can only make bad chemistry jokes these days as all the good ones Argon...