Wow! Surprised to make it to the final two. I was convinced Matt H was going to win!
Bettws High School, Newport, 1993-1999. University of Wales Swansea, 1999-2003. Swansea University, 2006-2011
BSc Chemistry, MRes (master of research), EngD (engineering doctorate)
Jan 2006 to Sep 2006: QC Chemist, Cultech Ltd, Baglan, Port Talbot., Oct 2005 to Dec 2005: Analytical Chemist, Inbev UK Ltd, Magor., Apr 2005 to Jul 2005:QC Chemist, Roche Products Pty Ltd, Dee Why, Sydney, Australia., Oct 2004 to Dec 2004: Research Analyst, Pharmaxis, Frenchs Forest, Sydney, Australia., Sep 2003 to Aug 2004: QA Chemist, SSL international, Guernsey.
Post Doctoral Research Assistant, SPECIFIC, Swansea University
Favourite thing to do in my job: To try something new and have it work first time (this is rare!)
A maniac madly manufacturing miniature solar cells.
I am quite probably, slightly mad (this is common among scientists, although by no means an essential trait!) and I love making and measuring solar cells (the study of solar cells is called photovoltaics). The types of solar cell devices I make consist of a number of layers and we try and modify those layers to see if we can improve the efficiency of the devices. We can make 64 devices in a day if we put our minds to it and so because of this, many variables can be trialled at once. Some of these layers can be applied a bit like a paint and so we joke that we have invented photovoltaic paint. A colleague of mine and I recently came up with a novel idea to do with one of these layers and we recently filed a patent where we are named as the inventors. This is the best job I’ve ever done (and I’ve done some terrible ones!) I look forward to going to work – I am lucky, not many people can say that.
My Typical Day
Drink coffee, make solar cells, drink more coffee, measure solar cells, drink coffee, talk about solar cells (whilst drinking coffee).
My lab is about 5 minutes drive from one of south Wales’ best surfing beaches, so if there is some good surf I will try and get in the water before work. I get into work and usually set up an experiment or set some piece of equipment to warm up and then have a coffee, check my emails and attend to some boring admin stuff. I’ll spend most of the rest of the day in the lab making and measuring small solar cells. The day goes pretty quickly as there’s always so much to do! After work if I can go surfing again, I will. If not I’ll walk my dog, Siro, on the beach.
What I'd do with the prize money
I would use it to teach school kids how to make solar cells using pencils, fruit tea and a couple of pieces of glass.
One kind of solar cell I have worked on the past has been the dye-sensitized solar cell. Some dyes work better than others but essentially, anything that is brightly coloured will work. In the past we have run workshops for the Swansea Science Cafe where we teach people how to make solar cells using some pieces of glass, a dye made from fruit tea, or chlorophyll extracted from plants – the original solar energy harvesters! We use graphite from a pencils as a catalyst and make a working solar cell.
I would use the money to buy the materials to run another one of these workshops.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Stubborn, opinionated, unhinged.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
To work closely with two of the biggest names in my field
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I always loved science experiments books as a kid and have been lucky to have had some great science teachers at school as well as some inspiring lecturers and supervisors at university. They have all inspired me to become a scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, never seriously.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’ve been a scientist so long now, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Maybe something totally different like an actor.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Daft Punk, Soulwax, Depeche Mode
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Snowboarding in deep powder
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. To live in a cottage on a cliff overlooking one of the surf breaks in south Wales., 2. To have the money to be able to afford the cottage., 3. To live happily ever after with my wife, Jay.
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the cow that won the Nobel Prize? He was outstanding in his field!