Where and what do you study?
I study Particle Physics at Royal Holloway University of London.
What do you do?
My job title is accelerator physicist and I work specifically on optimising the beam optics throughout the ISIS accelerator. This entails measuring the entire machine and creating an algorithm to study, model and improve the magnetic fields used to guide the beam from the initial creation of the ions, to the collision, right at the end. I often apply for experimental shifts in order to take thousands of measurements to map out the accelerator, and these have to be conducted during dedicated beam time so as not to ruin any user experiments.
What is the most interesting thing about your job?
The measurements which I take on the accelerator enable me to map out and model the entire machine in graphical form which all comes together to look amazing. I work in the accelerator group and closely with the diagnostics team so I get to see all about how the accelerator is set up and run. This means I get lots of opportunities to go into the accelerator halls and often get to have really interesting conversations with super intelligent people about all parts of accelerator physics. We also do a weekly pub quiz on a Wednesday lunch which is great fun!
What skills have you picked up?
I have really quickly picked up the ability to gauge the level of understanding during a conversation and explain complex physics in simple terms. I have had several opportunities to present my work in meetings and at conferences and this has improved my confidence when presenting to no end. My ability to know when to ask for guidance (and not just bang my head against a wall) has really improved because I know that everybody here is more than willing to help out or even just let me talk at them for a while.
What did you least expect?
I didn't expect my work to become so important and robust so quickly. I have already tested my code on the machine several times and am getting ready to transfer it into a user-friendly form for frequent use during setup. I feel like I'm actually working on something important which makes wanting to come into work no stress at all.