Bancroft’s school, Woodford Green
9 O levels, 4 A levels (Physics, Chemistry, Pure Maths, Applied Maths, BSc (UMIST, Manchester) in Pure & Applied Physics, MSc and DPhil (Oxford University) in Plasma Physics
Shoe shop assistant, building site labourer, Christmas post, street sweeper, dustman, CERN summer student, postdoc at MSSL, experimental officer, Royal Society University Research Fellow, temporary positions at MPS, Germany and University of Delaware (USA), Media Fellow at BBC World Service, Reader in Physics, Professor of Physics, Deputy Director (Solar System)
Professor of Physics, Deputy Director (Solar System), Phincipal Investigator, ExoMars PanCam
Favourite thing to do in my job: Be responsible for a camera on the Rosalind Franklin rover going to Mars, working with scientists and engineers
I'm Professor of Physics at UCL's Mullard Space Science lab - and Deputy Director (solar system)
I live in Guildford with my wife and sometimes my two daughters, who are (1) at uni and (2) working as an architect. We have a cat and fish as well.
My Work on the ExoMars Mission
I am the Principal Investigator for the PanCam on the ExoMars 2020 rover, which will search for signs of past or even present life on Mars.
My Typical Day: My day might involve teaching Planetary Atmospheres at UCL in London, talking to my PhD and MSc students about their work, phone calls, emails, leading a 40 strong science team meeting, travelling to ESA or our collaborators, reviewing papers and proposals, writing and reading, and working on STFC Science Board. Also its great to interact with our amazing PanCam engineers and scientists.
Morning – checking and responding to emails, reviewing a paper
Afternoon – Looking at some data from Saturn or Mars with my students
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious, thorough, enthusiastic
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Led a great team who built instruments which went to Saturn and Mars - particularly PanCam
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Study of physics and plasmas originally. Then, the original director of MSSL who gave a talk about an upcoming European space science mission to Halley's comet - it was European and with a strong UK involvement, and instruments which used physics to analyse charged particles. I ended up applying for a postdoc and managed the last stage of our Giotto instrument. After missions to Saturn, Mars and Venus as well I havent looked back!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Happy and working as a scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Science outreach in the media
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Many - Genesis, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Rollong Stones...
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Watched as the Cassini spacecraft launched from Florida on its way to Saturn, with our 1.4 kg instrument on top
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Rosalind Franklin rover to land safely on Mars, healthy and happy lives for our daughters, discover life elsewhere than Earth in my lifetime
Tell us a joke.
Scottish joke - what's the difference be=tween Bing Crosby and Walt Disney? Bing sings and Walt Disney!