At the age of 32, I have been lucky to work in a variety of fields before working on my Masters of Research (MRes) in Antimatter Physics. After graduating in Mathematics with Astronomy from the University of Southampton in 2008 I worked as a drummer in a band for 4 years and then trained to become a teacher in the UK. My first teaching job was actually in an international school in Beijing, where I worked for 3 years, and continued to teach in Switzerland for another year before attending a teacher training week at CERN. A guide working on the antihydrogen experiment ALPHA gave me some information on Masters projects I could propose, and I took one of these to Swansea University who took me on. Since August 2017 I have been working on a way of cooling positrons before using them to make antihydrogen, in order to increase the number of antihydrogen atoms that are cold enough to be trapped.
Coming from a varied background, I have had to work a lot to bring my physics knowledge up to the level required to work in a cutting-edge physics experiment. My priorities have changed from when I was younger - having a means to save money for a house and a family - and finding someone for this to happen! This requires time and money that are denied to a research student. It seems, so far, that a PhD would be suitable either for young people who don’t have these priorities, or for people who have already married. This series of blog posts aims to give an honest impression of my own experience working as a 32-year-old MRes student at CERN.