I went to Musselburgh Grammar School (not actually a grammar school), Cambridge, UEA, the Open University and now Heriot-Watt University
An MSci in chemistry and a BSc in Physics. Oh, and I did teacher training.
GAME, The Colonsay Hotel, The Reel cafe, Cambridge Assessment and Heriot-Watt
Favourite thing to do in my job: Realising that I don't know how something works
A wee ginger-bearded physicist with a love of waistcoats
I’m just a guy, you know? I live in Edinburgh, just near where I grew up, I like waistcoats and bow-ties, because both are extremely cool, I write a bit and read a lot, and I probably shouldn’t be allowed a Netflix account (sometimes days just disappear).
I work with fibre optics like the ones that you get really fast internet through, but I'm using them to take pictures.
We can use fibre optics to get light from one place to another, and that means that we can take pictures of anywhere that we can shove them, like down your throat or up the other end, or in my case, inside your lungs. The trouble is, the pictures we get back aren’t very good, so I try to work out ways to take better ones.
My Typical Day
Tea, emails, fiddling with tiny mirrors, chatting to people about better ways to fiddle, fiddling with tiny mirrors again, home
I come in, make a nice cup of tea, then if there’s not too many people wanting to talk to me I go into a really dark lab with no windows, turn the lights off and try to get my laser beams to go in the right direction so that I can bounce them off things to take pictures. When I can’t get it to work right, I ask the people who I work with for help, because they’ve done this kind of thing more than I have. I then go and try again to get the lasers going the right way. Sometimes they do, and then I have another cup of tea to celebrate.
What I'd do with the prize money
Make a podcast where people explain things to me that I don't understand
I’d make a podcast with my friend Dominic, who is also a physicist (well he’s really an engineer, but he’s doing a physics PhD like me). The idea would be to find a bunch of scientists who aren’t physicists and get them to explain what they do, or their favourite bit of science. Believe me, if they can help me and Dominic to understand it, then you’ll be able to understand it too.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Chatty, gingerbearded (which is one word, honest), excitable
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Made Nitrogen Triiodide: ask your teacher if they're silly enough to make some for you
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I think my physics teacher Mr. Bowers: he was a cool geek before geeks were cool
What was your favourite subject at school?
Physics or Chemistry, depending on which teacher had most recently blown something up
What did you want to be after you left school?
A scientist. Or a bus driver.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I'm apparently a bit of a distraction when I get chatty
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Someone who dreamed of being a writer but actually made coffee at starbucks.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Right now? Lord Huron, I think
What's your favourite food?
Curries: all of them
What is the most fun thing you've done?
It's not so much fun as amazingly cool, but I saw a total eclipse in Oregon in the summer.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To see pictures in my head (I honestly can't), to be able to teleport (my mum lives almost 10 hours away), to have a big muckle orange for a heid.
Tell us a joke.
A bad limbo dancer walks into a bar...