• Question: how did you get into your field of science?

    Asked by anon-201760 to Sophia, Sarah, Meirin, George, Emily, Andy on 13 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: Andy Buckley

      Andy Buckley answered on 13 Mar 2019:

      Luck, luck, luck, I think. A lot of scientists in my field comment that they look at the people applying now, and wonder how they ever got in, let alone made a success of it. I guess we tend to be a bit blind to our own abilities.

      I got interested in physics while at school… but not *because* of school. Maybe I saw some sci-fi on TV (I do remember one film with scientists in white coats and a sort of wormhole portal thing, which I thought was cool…), and I joined one of those monthly book club things and read a lot of pop-science books though that. I was influenced by Richard Feynman’s “QED: the Strange Theory of Light and Matter”, which was the first time I felt I was hearing directly from someone on the bleeding edge of human knowledge. And when the Web became available (yes, I’m that old… through school I just had books, and then the Encarta computer encyclopedia on a CD!), I got talking with scientists a bit on online forums.

      So then I went to university to do physics, and luckily I did really like it even though it becomes very different (better, I thought!) than at school. For a while I thought I wanted to do something astrophysicsy, but then got drawn into particle physics and haven’t looked back. It would be nice to reconnect with astro someday!

    • Photo: Sophia Pells

      Sophia Pells answered on 13 Mar 2019:

      A little bit by accident really (or luck). In the final year of my physics degree we had to do a research project and I saw there was one at a hospital that looked interesting so I applied for that. Before that I didn’t even know that this area of nuclear physics and medicine combined was a thing and I had never heard of MEDICIS at CERN. I ended up really loving the project and then found the uni was offering a PhD in the same area so I decided to do that 🙂

    • Photo: Sarah O'Sullivan

      Sarah O'Sullivan answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      By chance really. I’d finished my physics degree and just started applying for anything, including PhDs. I ended up with a few offers but chose nuclear because it sounded cool

    • Photo: Meirin Oan Evans

      Meirin Oan Evans answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      Through taking one small decision at a time. At every decisional crossroad I asked myself “What will I enjoy the most?”. I chose to do physics at university, even though I was probably a little bit better at maths at school. When I got to master’s level (usually 4th year of study after leaving school), I had to choose from a list of possible research projects. The one that really jumped out at me combined particle physics with education. I chose this one even though I hadn’t specialised in particle physics up to then. I loved my master’s project, and the opportunity came up to develop this work during a PhD… That’s where I am now!