I've had a great time chatting to everyone, and thanks to everyone who voted for me :). Simon's a worthy champion.
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.
AS-Level Computing, A-Level Geography, Physics and Maths. BSc Meteorology.
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!
Department of Meteorology, University of Reading
Favourite thing to do in my job: Finding out things no one knew before!
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 prize 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.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, friendly, curious.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
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 follow your career?
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!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Sometimes I was quite easily distracted, especially when I was with my friends! It depended a lot on the lesson.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
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.
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!
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.