Frequently Asked Questions

I get asked some questions frequently, so I hope this page helps answer them. If you still have a question then get in touch.

Can I do work experience with you?

It's great that you're interested in what I do! As I tend to travel a lot I am very limited in the amount of work experience opportunity I can offer. Any opportunities I have available will be listed on this site. That said, both my workplaces have the ability to take work experience students so if you're interested in working with particle accelerators please apply to either Oxford Physics or STFC for work experience.

How can I get into accelerator physics?

Accelerators are a wonderfully rich area to work in as they use lots of different areas of physics. If you're still at school my advice is to study as many sciences as you can and include as much mathematics as you can as well. But remember that a well-rounded education is important so please don't sacrifice your love of history, literature or art, the world needs a range of backgrounds, skills and approaches.

If you're already at University and studying physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or something similar there is most likely a potential role for you in this field.

What are some good books to read about accelerators?

There aren't a whole host of popular science books about accelerators, but there are plenty about particle physics. One of my favourites is Massive by Ian Sample . A coffee-table style book about accelerators is Engines of Discovery by Ted Wilson and Andy Sessler. I hope to add more to this list in time.

But for now, I recently worked with the Royal Institution in London to make a series of short films (and a few longer ones) about accelerators, called 'Particle Accelerators for Humanity' so go check them out on YouTube If you already have a good background in Physics, check out my lectures under 'Teaching' on this website where I list many resources and textbooks.

Do you charge a fee for speaking?

For most events I don't charge a fee, but I might ask you to cover my travel expenses. I consider public engagement to be part of my job as a scientist, however this means I am limited in the number of events I can do as I have to balance my research, teaching and other roles (typically, I can spend 10% of my time on this, including preparation). If your request is outside that remit in terms of scope or duration, I may have to ask a fee to cover my time and/or expenses.

There aren't many women in your field, how do you feel about that?

I wish there were more women in my field and I am active in trying to raise the profile of women in physics. I am aware of the need for role models and I believe the best way I can provide one is to be the best scientist I can be, while being open about what it's like to be an actual human being who does science. For a while I wrote a blog about this, though it is infrequently updated now.

If you're in physics yourself, one of the best ways you can help to address the gender imbalance and general lack of diversity in physics and in top levels of academia is to understand the topic and read up on it. Really until you do this the argument will keep going around in circles. I will add resources here in time.

However, please remember that just because I am a woman it is not my job to educate you about gender bias, implicit bias, sexism, feminism, stereotypes, impostor syndrome and so forth. If I share my thoughts on these topics it is because I have given up my spare time to do so. Time I could have spent doing any number of other more enjoyable things. Please remember that.

Sometimes I take long breaks from engaging on these issues, usually this is because I am simply too busy, but sometimes it's so I can recover from the negativity and find a positive place to approach the topic from.

Also, before you tell me I should take action x or y on this topic, remember it is not the job of women alone to 'fix' the imbalance. After that, think about what actions YOU can take to help.

Why do you tweet a lot about gender bias/sexism/racism rather than just science?

Please read this from Astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack, who puts it perfectly.

Will you join my 'women in science' event?

Maybe. Mostly it depends on whether I have time but certain things will sway me either way. If your event is a panel on issues affecting women in science, it depends on the starting point of the discussion. There is a whole field of research on gender bias and many scientists who also happen to be female are a little tired of hearing endless anecdotes and 'theories' about the gender gap when data is available. I am not an expert on gender bias but I sure have read a lot around the topic, so I expect the organisers and panel to be similarly well informed. Otherwise, I will likely have to decline.