At the age of four, Lamar boldly told his parents that he wanted to be a scientist! “I was drawn to the way that there is no absolute truth because our understanding of the natural world is ever changing" he explains, and he has never wavered from this life goal.
Growing up in Barbados, he pursued a scientific career at every opportunity. This led him to a degree in Physics and Computer Science. He moved to the UK to study Cybernetics at Reading university, allowing him to delve into the fields of robotics and systems engineering.
Lamar's first job was as a software developer at a photonics company. He was involved in designing and building cameras for many highly specific purposes, from missile tracking to observing circadian rhythms in plants. With his interest and expertise growing in this field, he snatched up the offered opportunity to do a PhD at the University of Sussex in Photonics. He worked on capacitive division anodes, developing a single photon sensitive camera that was able to image each photon in two dimensions. But as well as being able to image a biological sample, it also had timing resolution. This meant that it could measure the decay of the light emitted from samples over time, allowing the visualisation of chemical reactions inside biological samples.
Lamar joined ISIS towards the end of his PhD, as a software developer in our MANTID team. “The first project I worked on is, to this day, the favourite of my career so far," he says. This was the chance to be involved in the Development of software solutions for the European Spallation Source, which is under construction in Sweden. Traveling to Copenhagen, he was able to collaborate with the global partners, solving problems to build something incredible together. “It was like a student project, with no barriers of seniority and a huge sense of teamwork." This project was a key steppingstone for Lamar's career: “If I hadn't done that project, I don't think I'd be a group leader right now. It really set me up".
Lamar rose quickly through the ranks, becoming the scientific software group leader within 4 years of working at ISIS. This role means that he manages three teams of software engineers, busily setting up projects and bringing the right people together for the task at hand. His three teams work in; Data reduction, (where they write software to reduce the sample signal into something that can be interpreted), Systems Development, (where they design new software for new instruments and improve the efficiency of current software for instruments) and Research Software Engineering (Where they work with the researchers to solve their problems and interpret the specific data).
Lamar's fast paced life doesn't stop with software. Alongside his love of science comes Lamar's passion for Salsa dancing. Carried with him from Barbadian culture, he has been dancing all his life. Since he was 16 Lamar has been teaching his art, spreading the joy that dancing brings to life!
Rapid Fire Questions
- What did you want to be when you grew up? A Scientist.
- Favourite scientist? Albert Einstein or Newton.
- Favourite book? I read this book recently that I really liked called Rich dad poor dad.
- Can you describe yourself in three words? Nerdy Salsa Dancer.
- Favourite place on earth? Farley Hill National Park, Barbados.
- If you had a time machine, where would you travel back to? If I had a time machine I would probably go forward. I'd see whether or not we manage to solve our problems. There doesn't seem much use in going back.
- Favourite food?Trinidadian rotis.
- If you could have one superpower what would you choose? Flight! Travelling is expensive.
- If you could solve one problem, what would it be? Energy. If I could figure out fusion, that would be good. That would solve a lot of problems.
- If you were an animal, what would you be? A Phoenix.