Photo:

Angus Ferraro

I've had a great time chatting to everyone, and thanks to everyone who voted for me :). Simon's a worthy champion.

Favourite Thing: Finding out things no one knew before!

My CV

Education:

I went to school in Newcastle Emlyn in West Wales, then left in 2007 and finished my degree at the University of Reading in 2010.

Qualifications:

AS-Level Computing, A-Level Geography, Physics and Maths. BSc Meteorology.

Work History:

I worked in a pub/restaurant in the summer holidays. In the summer of 2009 I got to go to the Met Office for a placement. It was my first taste of real scientific research!

Current Job:

PhD student

Employer:

Department of Meteorology, University of Reading

Me and my work

I’m trying to work out whether using an artificial volcano to stop global warming is a good idea.

Global warming is such a problem some people have suggested we try radical ways to cool the planet down. One way would be to put tiny particles (like dust) in the atmosphere, which would reflect a small amount of sunlight. This could have all sorts of effects on the weather, and that’s what I’m trying to find out.

Since it’s obviously a pretty big deal to be messing with the environment like this, we don’t do experiments in the real world. Instead I use computer model calculations to help me understand what might happen in the real world. There are lots of people who really dislike this idea because we would just be interfering with the environment even more – and I think I agree with them!

My Typical Day

Do simulations of the Earth’s atmosphere on a computer and make pretty pictures of the results.

When I arrive I sit down at the computer and do some morning emails and things (including some cheeky Facebooking!). Then I get on with looking at the results from my computer simulations. I often have meetings with other people in my research group over tea, where I can hear about what my colleagues are working on and ask their opinions on my results. This is helpful because the most important part of being a scientist is working out what your results mean, and it’s not always obvious! Since I am a PhD student I have to write a thesis (basically a big book containing all my findings), so I spend quite a bit of time doing that!

What I'd do with the money

Kit out science classrooms in Afghanistan.

The organisation Afghans4Tomorrow works to improve education, farming and healthcare in Afghanistan. The country needs help and the best way to make peace is to offer people a better life. Think of all the things we take for granted in the UK, like laboratory equipment and textbooks. There are places where school children have none of that and it makes it very hard for them to get on in life. £500 could give hundreds of children access to a good science education and a ticket to a better future.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, friendly, curious.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I love loads of music! If I was forced to pick one…Lisa Hannigan, her music is beautiful.

What's your favourite food?

I love curries – just as long as they’re not too spicy!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

When I finished my degree I spent a month on a train journey round Europe. I went to Istanbul and back. It was amazing!

What did you want to be after you left school?

At first I wanted to be a vet, but decided I was too squeamish to be operating on animals. Then I wanted to be an architect, but realised I couldn’t draw. Finally I decided I wanted to be a climate scientist, and here I am!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Sometimes I was quite easily distracted, especially when I was with my friends! It depended a lot on the lesson.

What was your favourite subject at school?

I loved geography – the mixture of learning about the natural world and about how humans live in it.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Getting to meet some pretty clever people at meetings and conferences. At the end of the first year of my PhD I got to travel to Banff, Canada for a summer school. It was a really interesting week, but it was even better when I stayed for a while afterwards to climb some mountains and see some bears!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I grew up on a farm and I have always been interested in how the natural world works and how humans can live in it without damaging it. To do this I need to learn how the natural world works!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I’d quite like to be a writer, either a science journalist (OK, maybe that’s too close to being a scientist, but I really love science!) or even a novelist. I’m don’t think I’m much good at creative writing but I enjoy it.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) To be happy. 2) Find a job I love, and be able to live within walking (or cycling) distance. 3) To be able to have a make the word a better place (in science and through charity and politics).

Tell us a joke.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? NACHO CHEESE.

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage1

My desk! The most important thing on it is probably the box of tea. I sit in an open area with all the other PhD students. More senior scientists get their own offices. The office on the right is one of my supervisors’, so he can keep tabs on me if he wants!

 

myimage2

A swan on Whiteknights lake. The University of Reading campus is very green and pretty, which makes my walk to work in the morning very nice.

 

myimage3

The tall, ugly building in the background is where I work. It’s not the main building for my department, but recently we got so big some of us had to move out to this new one!

 

myimage4

A closer view of my building, which we share with some biology people. Their labs look much more exciting than our desks and computers unfortunately!