I began my science career as an astronomer, using the radio telescopes at Cambridge University’s Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, to observe colliding galaxies. After a period working on fundamental low temperature condensed matter physics (investigating the contact electrification of solidified noble gases) at UMIST, Manchester, I then branched out into plasma physics (not far from astrophysics), moving to the Culham Centre For Fusion Energy and the Joint European Torus (JET) project, working on magnetically confined plasmas.
JET is a toroidal magnetic chamber (tokamak) experiment, in which the confined plasma is heated by powerful neutral beams and radio frequency waves to temperatures hotter than the centre of the Sun, of 100 million degrees. In these experiments, I identified super-thermal radio emission from energetic fusion-produced alpha-particles.
I was Director of the Culham International Summer School for Plasma Physics from 2006-2011. I am a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and visiting scientist at Rutherford Appleton laboratories, and at the Oxford University Astrophysics Department.
I currently live in Oxford, where I enjoy making and writing music, tackling the challenges in writing about science, and running an observatory in my garden.