I was born in Palma de Mallorca, in the Spanish Balearic Islands in September 1977, to a Spanish father and Scottish mother. I spent the majority of my life growing up in the small town of Bonnyrigg near Edinburgh, Scotland, not far from ‘Rosslyn Chapel’, for those of you who are Da Vinci Code fans. After a degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh and the Institute for Astronomy at the Royal Observatory, I earned my PhD in Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh doing experiments at TRIUMF, the national lab where I now reside. My PhD experiment consisted of performing ‘Resonant elastic scattering of radioactive sodium-21 on CH2 targets’, or as my friends put it: ‘Firing atoms at plastic bags’!
After a few years’ stint as Post-Doc here at TRIUMF with the DRAGON Group, and a brief spell working for the University of York (UK), I became a TRIUMF Research Scientist and leader of the DRAGON Group, measuring the rates of important nuclear fusion reactions for astrophysics using accelerated radioactive nuclear beams.
I am the only scientist in the family, although my father is definitely a scientist at heart, despite his business in tourism and background in agriculture. I got my passion for learning how things work from him. My sister is a talented artist - the career that my family thought I would eventually take – and my mother, also artistically talented, is a researcher for the Scottish Government in Tourism and Culture.
In my ‘spare’ time, I like to take advantage of the amazing countryside around Vancouver, British Columbia. Here, summer lake swims, hiking in the wilderness, and winter snowboarding adventures feed my soul. I have a huge interest in world culture and history, and soak up as much as I can by traveling and reading. Although I try to keep my work life and home life as separate as possible, I still love reading ‘realistic’ science fiction (think Arthur C Clarke and Kim Stanley Robinson) and popular science tomes. I cannot live without my guitar.
Just as certain rock stars are rumored to visit European clinics once a year to have their ‘blood cleansed’, I travel back home to Edinburgh annually to ensure my liver is kept well-exercised with the local libation.