Perse School; Oxford University
Research projects at school about ski design and bike design;
A-levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, and Further Maths;
MEng Materials degree from Oxford
After leaving school, I did my degree and went straight on to a PhD. I’ve worked in a bar, as a teacher, and in events management over my University holidays though. I also get paid for some of the music performances I do. It’s good to do something a bit different sometimes.
PhD student at Oxford researching new nuclear materials
I’m researching new materials for nuclear reactors at Oxford University. When I get out of the lab, I love playing hockey; listening to music; playing in an orchestra; and hanging out with friends.
I live in Oxford and I’m studying for my PhD by researching new nuclear materials. I really enjoy the independence and excitement that comes with doing my own research project that contributes to a big, new project like a nuclear fusion reactor.
(View of Oxford from my college)
In my free time I love playing hockey; listening to music; playing in an orchestra; and hanging out with friends.
Oxford is a great city to live in with some great people and we have some beautiful buildings where we can perform concerts.
(Sheldonian Theatre, our historic concert venue in the middle of Oxford)
There is currently no structural material that fulfils all of the optimum design requirements for a Nuclear Fusion reactor and we think new zirconium alloys could be the answer. This is really important because nuclear fusion energy could be a really big step towards de-carbonising our energy industry.
I use a plasma arc furnace to melt metals together and create new alloys that we think could fulfil the design requirements. After making the alloys, I process them by heating, rolling and sometimes irradiating them. Once the alloys are processed I can begin observing and testing them using basic techniques like a microscope as well as more advanced techniques using indenters, X-rays and electron microscopes.
(One of the electron microscopes I use)
Some colleagues have put together a really good video explaining what we do:
My Typical Day:
I try to get in to the lab early in the morning so that I can get to fun activities with my friends in the evening. I spend most of the day analysing my alloy samples but I also spend time learning about other people’s research, learning about nuclear science, running outreach workshops, and presenting my own work.
I try to get in to the lab before 9 so that I can leave a bit early for my evening plans like hockey training or a music rehearsal. I spend most of my time on our equipment collecting data about my alloys or analysing the data I’ve collected. The data analysis is really important to make sure that I can present my work so that other people can understand it and contribute ideas.
(Data analysis on an electron microscope)
I will spend a couple of hours most days listening to lectures to improve my knowledge and my work as well as learning about other people’s work so that I stay up-to-date and we can all give each other ideas. Despite everyone working on their own project, we collaborate a lot.
(My office in Oxford)
About once a fortnight I have to present the work that I’ve been doing and all the things I’ve found out. I spend a couple of hours a week doing workshops as part of the University outreach programme to engage people in materials science and potentially help with their University applications.
What I'd do with the prize money:
Develop a new experiment for our workshops to show how radiation damages chocolate.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
ambitious, logical, problem-solving
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to design sports equipment (like bikes or shoes)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, but I definitely didn't have a perfect record!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Rag n Bone Man, Anthony Ramos. I love listening to new things, maybe suggest something to me?
What's your favourite food?
Sausage and Mash
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To get an exciting job after my PhD. To engage other people (young and old) in science so they can enjoy learning or researching too. And to come up with a complete solution to climate change (just a small one for the 3rd wish!)
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the girl who invented the knock-knock joke? She won the 'no-bell' prize!