Whenever there was certainty as to where I was in life, I didn't really know where exactly I was headed. Once I decided to do my degree in Physics, it felt like I knew what direction I was going in, but found it harder to place myself in the present, not knowing how far I'd come or how much further I had to go in becoming a Physicist. Now, as I begin my PhD in High Energy Physics at University College London, I can safely say I have little certainty of either, but there's no where else I'd rather be and not much else I'd rather be doing. With the LHC back online (and lots of other great experiments coming soon), there seems to be no better time to be starting doctoral research and the entire physics community, as well as myself, face an uncertain future in the discoveries Run 2 will hopefully unearth.
After a simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting four years chasing a Masters Degree at Oxford, I was certain that Particle Physics research is what I wanted to pursue. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy my courses in quantum mechanics and special relativity (the associated problem sets, not so much...), but a research placement and a summer school on Hadron Collider physics introduced me to a whole set of exciting physics concepts and a really great community. Yes, we're often quirky and obsessive, sometimes narrow minded and scatter-brained, but every new group of physicists I meet reminds me of what a diverse, friendly and interesting bunch of people I have the pleasure of working with.
Outside of physics I occasionally enjoy long distance running, board games and terribly playing the harmonica. I like discussing silly things until the early hours of the morning and making up for it the next day with a copious amount of black coffee. My office desk is currently host to an unidentifiable cactus.
Having nearly broken every electronic device I encountered in undergraduate labs, I decided that Theory / Phenomenology was more my calling than Experiment. I'm now beginning research with the Parton Distribution Functions group at UCL, hoping to contribute to our understanding of the internal structure of the proton, a crucial component in the theoretical calculations for hadron collider physics.
Despite being new to the world of “professional” physics, I hope that I can share the experiences of being a postgraduate with undergrads considering a similar path, and shed some light more generally on the world of research, from a newcomer's perspective. But more than that, I want to spread the big ideas in particle physics and provide some insight into all the exciting new developments that are sure to come in the next few years. There are new Dark Matter and Neutrino experiments, as well as the LHC, all primed to finally find physics Beyond the Standard Model.
Whatever their outcomes, I hope we can find a way to reach the wider community and share our excitement for these bold attempts at understanding the universe, with everyone we can.