Becky is technician who loves rock and metal bands, climbing, and singing in a choir. At the CLF she to solves problems and support our experiments.
Donna, who originally trained as a beautician, used her skills with tweezers and paintbrushes to become a world-class microtarget fabricator.
Chris is a scientist at our Octopus Imaging Cluster. He is also a proud father, and when his baby was born he decided to take full advantage of STFC's available Paternal/parental leave while his wife went back to work.
What is your job?
I write software to control various devices such as cameras, motors and sensors. This allows users to read from and write to these devices from any PC in our network. I also support existing laser facilities and I'm involved in some of the planning and early development for EPAC at the moment.
I'm a Senior Microtarget fabricator.
I am a Senior Link Scientist at the Central Laser Facility OCTOPUS Imaging Cluster. My job is to make it possible for scientists from universities and industry to perform exciting experiments using advanced microscopes that aren't available in their own labs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the fact that I get to work with such a variety of people. I get to work with scientists, engineers, technicians and more. Every single person I interact with has a different set of skills and experiences and I've found that everyone is very passionate about what they do. It's so interesting to learn from everyone!
What I enjoy most about my job is the challenge of assembling super tiny microtargets that have never been produced before and being able to contribute to world leading science.
I love problem solving and a big part of my work is figuring out how to solve scientific questions using our toolbox of microscopes and the expertise available at the facility. We not only have experts in lasers and microscopy, but also molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry and data science. Sometimes the tool we need doesn't exist and we have to put our heads together and develop a new one!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is remembering what all of the acronyms mean for different facilities, departments, equipment and projects!
I also work on lots of different projects at once means that I need to do a bit of context switching, but every project I work on I find really interesting so it's a challenge I enjoy!
The most challenging part of the job is the sheer size and complexity of some of the targets we have to piece together by hand.
The most challenging part is figuring out how to make progress when experiments don't go as expected (which is almost always!) and the clock is ticking because there's only limited time available to run each experiment. It's also exciting though because it means that some of our assumptions were wrong we might discover something new.
What do you do outside of work for fun?
When there isn't a pandemic, I go climbing with my friends, go to see rock and metal bands and sing in a choir. At the moment, I go for walks and catch up with friends over video call.
Things I enjoy outside of work for fun include ice skating, supporting Oxford city stars ice hockey team, fishing with my partner, spending time with my children my animals and family and gardening.
Outside of work, I love playing with my son and not just because it's a great excuse to build things with his Duplo. I'm also a bit of an exercise fanatic, which has only got worse during lockdown. My favourite sport is Judo which has sadly been impossible to do during the pandemic. I also play guitar and I'm learning the piano, but this is a slow process with a toddler in the house. My son pulls my hands away from the keys unless I play his favourite song! I've been brushing up my music theory and taken up composing because I can do that on a computer while he sleeps.
What are your 3 favourite things (Inside or outside of work)?
Exploring new places, spending time with friends, chocolate!
Animals, music and family. My favourite thing at work would be some of my awesome colleagues; I'm very blessed to work with some lovely people.
Toddler free time with my wife, endorphins and when my son uses me as a climbing frame.
Additonal to the questions, Chris also told us about his paternity leave experience: "My Son was born just before Christmas (best present ever!). The Christmas holiday and two weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave flew by and I found it incredibly tough going back to work and leaving my wife and baby at home. So when my wife decided to end her maternity leave early I jumped at the chance to take some Shared Parental Leave. I planned my work around taking 15 weeks of shared leave in one big block ending the day before his first birthday. Staying at home to care for a baby is a full time job and it was seriously hard work, but I'm really glad that I was able to do it. I got to spend much more time with him in his snuggly helpless phase and do all the things in his weekly routine that I'd been missing out on, like taking him to swimming and music sessions."