The Langton Star Centre: First Day

Yesterday, The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2012 drew to a close after a magnificent week of sharing the joy of science with the wonderful Cheltenham Festival audiences – thanks, it must be said, to the phenomenal efforts of the festival staff and the brilliant army of volunteers. A quick search for the #CheltSciFest hashtag will give you a flavour of the post-festival comedown most of those who went are experiencing. But it’s not been so bad for me – I started a new job today and, if you spoke to me during the festival about it, you’ll know that I’ve been rather excited about it.

The CERN@school detector.

I’m going to be getting rather familiar with this.

In a nutshell, I’m being funded by STFC to be a researcher in residence at the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, Kent. Working with Queen Mary University London, GridPP and SEPnet – the South East Physics Network – we’re aiming to get as many schools as possible in the south-east of England doing research through the CERN@school project. Ever since taking part in the FameLab competition in 2009, the question “research or communication?” has been rattling around – from the post-talk judging panel grillings, to conversations with many of the great friends I’ve made through the competition. After a PhD and post-doc of trying to juggle the two, I’m incredibly grateful to STFC and The Langton Star Centre for giving me the chance to be involved in a project that will let me fundamentally combine the two aspects of science I love the most. And what’s more, my new boss is Dr Becky Parker. If you’ve met the Director of The Langton Star Centre, you’ll you know why that’s seventy shades of awesome.

Anyway, it looks like I’m starting as I mean to go on – I’m meeting Ian Russell tomorrow at the Royal Institution of Great Britain about a cosmic ray exhibition, and the first (day!) trip to CERN is booked for Monday. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a very different kind of high energy physics.

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