Communicating my research effectively with both experts and non-experts is an important part of my job, and I’m always looking for opportunities to share my experience and expertise! Feel free to get in touch with me for any enquiries (links at the bottom of the page).
Here are some events I took part in, for…
- … high school students
- … the general public
- … undergraduate students
- … science professionals (not particle physics)
… high school students
In March 2020, I was invited to daily online chats with students on the “I’m a scientist, get me out of here!” platform. It was great meeting so many enthusiastic young people, and their questions were surprisingly astute and interesting. After two weeks of chats with more than a hundred students, I was voted “their favourite” out of a group of 5 scientists (you can read my “thank you” message here) and won £500 to spend on further outreach projects, so stay tuned!
In March 2019, the University of Sheffield organised an ATLAS masterclass and I helped the students run some data analysis software to see what it’s like to be a particle physicist sifting through collision data to find examples of Higgs bosons. We even got a faint sign of some new particles too! You can check out my introductory slides on data analysis here:
Back in September 2017, I was invited to Tapton School in Sheffield to speak at a weekly science seminar. I gave a talk titled “The Dark Universe” (which, as you can imagine, was about Dark Matter and the Universe) and very much enjoyed talking informally to the students afterwards – they seemed to be really motivated and the school provided fantastic support to their science club!
… the general public
Perhaps my best experience in outreach so far, I gave a PubhD mini-talk in December 2017, at the Old Queens Head pub in Sheffield. The basic idea was simple: explain your research to a group of lay-pub-goers in 10+5 minutes, get a free pint; I was the last speaker of the evening, hadn’t waited for my free pint and was quite unhappy with the talk I’d prepared – it was too technical to fit in 10 minutes, wouldn’t be as impactful without props (we only had a paperboard, none of my usual A/V setup). So as I walked on stage, I decided to do away both with my crippling nerves and my planned talk, and go for an improvised rant instead, on the topic of “naturalness” in physics. The title “Should physics be natural?” was found after the fact, and the talk was apparently sufficiently engaging that I was allowed to go on for half an hour, including a lively debate and Q&A – and that’s exactly what I want from a successful public science session!
See if you can figure out what I was trying to scribble on the whiteboard, I’m not even sure myself…
You can read the summary of the talk here.
However, instead of focusing his talk all about his research, he instead opted to chat to us about a certain aspect of his work that he finds especially interesting – and almost controversial! […] He’s also writing a book about all this, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to find out more!
Note: the book project mentioned above was derailed by the publication of the excellent “Lost in Maths: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray”, by Sabine Hossenfelder of Backreaction. I might come back to the idea some day, but in the meantime do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of “Lost in Maths”!
Since 2017, every Halloween is also “Dark Matter Day” – I took part in the very first one, giving a talk on “Dark Matter at the LHC” at the event organised by the University of Sheffield’s own Jost Migenda.
… undergraduate students
With university-level students, I emphasise the career aspect of particle physics more than the science itself – after all, that’s already what teaching is for!
In April 2018, I helped organise “iAPS2CERN”, a yearly trip to CERN organised by the International Association of Physics Students (iAPS) - check out here the details for this year!. Students from all around Europe got to visit CERN for a few days, getting private tours of e.g. the ISOLDE experiment:
I also arranged for a number of CERN PhDs to come and share their thoughts on particle physics, life as a PhD student, career advice etc. This was a new addition to the program that year, and it was very well received. Way back in June 2016, I had won the iAPS essay competition with my entry “Solving problems in theoretical physics”, where I had presented the so-called “strong CP problem” and its possible solutions, making very explicit the reasoning behind building new models of particle physics. You can find a (poorly formatted) version here.
In December 2017, I was invited by the Sheffield Physics Society to give a presentation of my PhD work (see and SUSY) to undegraduate students, to give them a better idea of an active area of research within the Department of Physics, and encourage them to take up an MSc project with our group.
… science professionals (not particle physics)
In April 2019, I participated in the Departmental PGR research day at the University of Sheffield and gave a talk on “Prospects for measurements at ATLAS with the full LHC Run 2 dataset” to fellow PhD students and academics in the wider Department of Physics. You can read more about this aspect of my research here.
Back in October 2017, I presented a poster (“Capturing the invisible: the hunt for Dark Matter at the LHC”, which you can find here) at the Kroto Research Inspiration conference. These were the early days of my PhD, and I was still figuring out how to make posters (perhaps my least favourite medium of science communication), so don’t be too harsh!