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Working in physics: index

  • My years in China
    Richard de Grijs, who spent eight years as a senior scientist in China, outlines the advantages and disadvantages of working in this burgeoning scientific powerhouse
  • Thinking points for career bliss
    Graduates and more experienced job-seekers alike need to be aware, willing and able to ensure they find the most fulfilling career path, says Jack Bailey.
  • Nuclear futures
    Tushna Commissariat talks to Jim Gulliford about a new programme to train early-career nuclear physicists, and what a future in the field looks like today.
  • The Perils of Proposals
    With its complex procedures, unknown evaluations and unconscious biases, applying for research funding is no mean feat. Dalmeet Singh Chawla investigates if it is time to revamp the grant-funding process.
  • Engineering a career in terahertz
    A PhD in physics is the perfect basis for a career as an engineer, as Ken Cooper from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tells Susan Curtis.
  • In pursuit of the purest quartz
    From a PhD in semiconductor physics to head of Quartz Products at Airbus Defence and Space, Richard Syme looks back at a long and enjoyable career.
  • From physics to environmental science: a natural evolution?
    Physics and environmental research are more compatible than you might first think. Kate Ravilious talks to three leading physicists-turned-environmental researchers, to find out about their journey.
  • Tales from a British physicist in Japan
    From cultural differences to grant glitches, Elizabeth Tasker describes the good, the bad and the confusing of working as a physicist in Japan.
  • How to write a good CV for industry
    If you want a job in hi-tech industry, it pays to tailor your CV so that it makes the most of your business-relevant skills and expertise, says Andrew Hirst.
  • Random walk to quantum computing
    Computer scientist Rami Barends describes his unorthodox route through academia that led to him joining Google's hardware lab to build a quantum computer.
  • How much self-promotion is enough?
    Promoting your career is the name of the game for most researchers, but is excessively citing your own papers a good or bad thing? Dalmeet Singh Chawla investigates.
  • The accidental astronomer
    Linda Nordling speaks to Bernard Asabere, Ghana's first domestic astronomer.
  • Going further afield
    Xinzheng Ling a condensed-matter physicist from Peking University in China, tells Michael Banks why it’s important for early-career scientists in China to gain research experience outside of the country.
  • Once a physicist: Dave Donaldson
    Dave Donaldson is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, who conducts research on topics related to international and inter-regional trade in low-income countries. He grew up in Toronto, Canada and obtained an MPhys degree at the University of Oxford, UK, in 2001.
  • Top talent wanted, start from scratch
    New research institutes and departments encounter unique challenges for attracting and recruiting talent from across the globe, reports Alaina G Levine.
  • The need for speed
    Lorraine Bobb explains how a summer placement at Diamond Light Source helped her make an evidence-based decision about her career path.
  • How to become an 'edupreneur'
    Setting up shop as a science communicator after getting your degree in physics is a tempting offer, especially for those who are interested in creating educational outreach materials, as Alaina G Levine finds out.
  • Are you following the right to-do list?
    For today’s academics, balancing personal and professional demands can be a difficult, often futile task.
  • The other side of the classroom
    Most physics graduates have an idea of what it’s like to be a physics teacher, having been taught by one in the recent past.
  • Leadership lessons learnt in the lab
    Skills learnt as part of a research team translate well to a career as a leader in education says physicist and headteacher Mark Whalley.
  • Spin-out success
    David Taylor reflects on the lessons learned in founding spin-out firms based on magnetic resonance imaging technology.
  • Mapping the heavens
    The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been working since the start of the millennium to create a "map" of the universe.
  • Quantum physics, across the world
    A summer internship at Singapore's Centre for Quantum Technologies helped Kate Clements refine her postgraduate plans while also getting to know a new culture.
  • Final destination: space
    Frances Wray describes how she turned childhood dreams about travelling to Mars into a career designing and testing components for space missions.
  • A conference of our own
    Setting up a brand-new student-run conference isn’t easy, but for Adam O’Connell and Reaal Khalil, it was an opportunity to develop skills that a standard physics degree course just doesn’t provide. Here, they reflect on their experiences.
  • Diverse opportunities in defence
    Working at the UK’s defence laboratory gives Gareth Brown the ability to apply his physics and mathematics knowledge to real-world applications – and not necessarily in the ways you might expect.
  • From physicists to physicians
    After completing undergraduate degrees in physics, Henry Drysdale, Ioan Milosevic and Eirion Slade decided their futures lay in medicine. They share their experiences with Physics World
  • Once a physicist: Karl Young
    I actually started adult life as a jazz saxophone player, but this was in San Francisco in the late 1960s, so it was a very open time intellectually and I had very wide interests.
  • Under sea, over land
    Acoustic scientist Daniel Finfer describes life at Silixa, a start-up firm that provides fibre-optic sensing technologies to the oil and gas industry
  • Animal magnetism
    Steve Roberts explains how a novel business idea – a specialist MRI scanner for horses – led his physics career down an unusual and rewarding path
  • Lessons in becoming a scientist
    Iris Dillmann describes her journey through a profession that requires people to be both “flexible like a rubber band” and also “hard as steel”
  • Teaching with technology
    When David Vernier left his job as a physics teacher to start his own company, he discovered that lessons learned in the classroom would serve him well in the business world
  • Being a technician at the National Graphene Institute
    We catch up with John Whittaker in his busy schedule as NGI’s technical services manager
  • Fostering innovation
    A cluster of independent consultancies has helped make Cambridge a hot spot in the UK’s hi-tech economy. Andrew Baker-Campbell describes what it’s like to be a part of this growing industry.
  • Being a physics technician at Diamond Light Source
    Adrian Johnson helps to keep one of the UK’s main physics facilities working correctly.
  • Building models, modelling buildings
    As a software developer in a building performance analytics firm, Michael Bennett uses his physics skills to help design more environmentally friendly and cost-effective buildings.
  • A scientific tax man
    It may not win him many admirers at parties, but for Paul Barton, helping companies claim tax credits for their research is a great way of combining his diverse interests in science and policy.
  • Unemployed and STEM
    Despite widely reported skills shortages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, some graduates in these disciplines are finding the job hunt anything but easy. Penny Jackson shares her experiences.
  • Operations research needs physicists
    Operations researcher Stephen Coulson explains how a physicist's skills are valued in a varied and interdisciplinary field that has expanded far beyond its defence origins.
  • A 'static' business 
    John Chubb built his own small business developing electrostatic measuring instruments. Now retired, he relates his company's story and the lessons he learned from running it.
  • Finding balance in a new lab
    Setting up a new laboratory is a formidable challenge for early-career researchers. Sarah Bohndiek shares a few lessons she learned in her first year as a group leader.
  • The view from the VC side
    With a PhD in theoretical physics and more than a decade of experience in the investment world, venture capitalist Alexei Andreev has seen his share of innovation successes and failures
  • A concrete foundation .
    The construction industry may not seem like a logical home for a physicist, but Luke Pinkerton believes that a degree in physics has been a big asset in his civil engineering career.
  • Serving an aging population
    Gerontechnologist Lawrence Normie describes his work on devices that improve the lives and health of older adults.
  • A lasting legacy.
    Michael Conti-Ramsden describes how a physics degree and the Great Exhibition of 1851 helped turbocharge a career based on solving practical problems in chemical engineering
  • Applied knowledge
    Jennifer King explains how group industrial projects can help physics students to build real-world skills within a university environment
  • On the inside track
    Industrial scientist Brent Neal explains what physics graduates and PhD students can do to make themselves stand out to recruiters.
  • Powders, powders everywhere
    Nishil Malde describes how the ubiquity of powders in industrial processes led him from academic research to an international role at a firm that undertakes powder testing
  • Mixing physics and engineering
    As an engineer in the naval-nuclear division of Rolls-Royce, Steven Lawler sees himself as an ambassador for physicists working in an engineering environment
  • The sixth element
    Stephanie Liggins describes how her PhD research on defects within the structure of diamonds led her to a career in industrial product development
  • Scientist for hire
    Specialised technology companies and academic research are not the only ways of building a career using your skills as a physicist. Technology consultant Jeffrey Philippson shares his enthusiasm for a more varied option
  • The good mentorship guide
    Sarah Bohndiek describes some of the key traits postdocs should look for in a potential mentor and offers advice on selecting the right mentor for you
  • Forget about networking
    Marc Kuchner argues that if scientists really want to advance their careers, they should concentrate instead on just making friends
  • A clean solution
    Michael Duncan, John Girkin and Tom McLeish describe how an unusual cross-disciplinary collaboration between Procter & Gamble and Durham University is generating benefits for both sides
  • New beginnings for nuclear
    Jeroen Veenstra describes how his enthusiasm for nuclear energy led him to a new country, a new language and a role in developing the energy future
  • Starting from scratch
    Mehdi Yazdanpanah describes how he turned his PhD research into a successful small business, despite starting off with just $500 in his bank account
  • Making the 'wonder material', August 2012
    Graphene is taking the world of physics by storm, with new applications cropping up almost weekly. Daniel Stolyarov describes how he and his wife, Elena Polyakova, turned the graphene boom into a business
  • Technology for life, July 2012
    The fight against cancer offers rewarding career opportunities for medical physicists as well as healthcare professionals, as Giulia Thompson describes
  • Changing the Hamiltonian, June 2012
    Trained to understand particles rather than people, physicists who become managers often struggle with human-resources challenges such as motivating and developing employees.
  • Playing the game, May 2012
    Catherine Goode describes how a degree in physics and a childhood passion for computer and video games led her to a career in game design.
  • Making outreach work, April 2012
    Lisa Jardine-Wright offers some advice on ensuring that physics outreach is more than just a "fun day out" for students, volunteers and academics
  • Careers, interrupted, February 2012
    Jan West describes how an organization inspired by the UK's first female physics professor has helped more than 200 people return to working in science after career breaks
  • Why biophysics works for me, January 2012
    Five scientists talk to Jon Cartwright about why they are drawn to problems on the border between biology and physics
  • Building a bionic eye, December 2011
    Kate Fox describes how strokes of luck – both good and bad – led her to work on an interdisciplinary "bionic eye" project aimed at helping people with retinal disease
  • Enjoy a new perspective of the Earth, November 2011
    Earth scientist and remote-sensing expert Shannon Franks describes how there is more to NASA than space exploration
  • Physics to freelance, September 2011
    With dozens, if not hundreds, of professionals vying for the same jobs, why not create your own career? Independent space-technology consultant Mark Williamson shares his experience of self-employment
  • Three perspectives: careers in China, August 2011
    A xinren ("recent arrival"), a zhongguo tong ("old hand") and a zhongjian ("in-between") discuss the ups and downs of doing physics research in China
  • Beyond the eureka moment, July 2011
    For academic inventors, having a great idea is just the beginning. Figuring out what to do next can be a much bigger challenge, as Nadya Reingand explains
  • The sounds of science, June 2011
    Wanda Diaz Merced describes how losing her sight led her to investigate new ways of studying space physics, using sound rather than visual information
  • Surviving your thesis, May 2011
    Many PhD students view thesis writing with trepidation but, as James Hayton explains, this rite of passage need not be a nightmare – it just takes the right tactics
  • A super(conducting) career, April 2011
    Joe Brown explains why he is still enthusiastic about designing and manufacturing superconducting magnets after nearly 40 years in the industry
  • Seeking advice, March 2011
    With so many different career options out there, Margaret Harris examines what university careers offices can – and cannot – do to help physics graduates find their way in the job market
  • Retired, but still a physicist, February 2011
    Caroline Lodge and Eileen Carnell describe how good practice in the retirement process can benefit both retiring physicists and their employers
  • Fusion scientists of the future, January 2011
    In interdisciplinary subjects such as fusion energy, training PhD students is a complex task. Llion Marc Evans describes how being part of the Fusion Doctoral Training Network has helped him develop as a researcher
  • Banking on it, December 2010
    Even after the global financial crisis, banking remains a popular career choice for physics graduates. Physics World talks to Benjamin Rosenberger and Rob Thomson, both of the equities division of Swiss firm UBS, about the ups and downs of working in finance
  • Gongs away, November 2010
    Now that the Nobel Prize for Physics is sorted for another year, Margaret Harris examines the range of other physics prizes on offer, and how receiving awards can help - and sometimes hinder - a recipient's career
  • Playing it safe with reactors, October 2010
    With new nuclear reactors on the horizon, Mike Yule explains why helping to keep the UK's existing plants running safely is a great job for a physicist
  • From the universe to the Internet, September 2010
    Peter Cogan describes how the skills of a physicist are always in demand at Bell Labs, although the research focus is now on telecommunications rather than fundamental physics
  • A new model Master's, August 2010
    Students torn between the worlds of business and physics may soon have fresh options thanks to a novel hybrid course gaining popularity in the US
  • Big lasers, tiny circuits, July 2010
    Slava Rokitski describes how a childhood interest in the way things work led him to a career in laser manufacturing
  • Building a better lecture, June 2010
    Educational research has revealed flaws in the traditional lecture format, but as Keith Taber explains, it has also suggested ways of reshaping lectures that could benefit both students and academics
  • Supporting laser science, May 2010
    If the laser in your laboratory is not working, your first port of call (after the instruction manual!) will be someone like Harald Ellmann, whose fascination with practical problem-solving led to a career in technical support
  • Curating the space-time continuum, April 2010
    Alison Boyle describes how working in a science museum offers plenty of variety and the chance to interact with great scientists – past and present.
  • Protecting the future, March 2010
    Patent attorneys work at the interface of science and law, helping inventors to safeguard their intellectual property. Elliott Davies describes a career that combines technical knowledge and commercial savvy.
  • Life on the borders, February 2010
    Edward Barry describes a career at the sharp end of interdisciplinary research, and how a virus from the New York City sewers is helping shape our understanding of nanoscale self-assembly.
  • Astronomy for all, January 2010
    Showing members of the public the wonders of the universe is one of the best things about being an astronomer - and retirement can lead to even more outreach opportunities, as Stephen and Irene Little explain.
  • Why not do both?, December 2009
    Physicists thinking about academic or industrial research should consider a career that brings together elements from both, urges Stephen Sweeney.
  • What will you do next summer?, November 2009
    Physics undergraduates seeking a summer job that goes beyond traditional student employment should consider a research internship, as Margaret Harris reports.
  • Of time and tide, October 2009
    For Stephen Taylor, running a marine-software company means plenty of chances to apply familiar physics to unusual real-world problems – and being your own boss is nice too.
  • A physicist's life-cycle, September 2009
    Long-term career satisfaction for academics is closely linked to the type of institution where they work, as Joseph C Hermanowicz discovered when he set out to follow physicists through their careers.
  • Scientists in the newsroom, August 2009
    Media fellowships can help physicists improve the way that they communicate their results to the outside world, and also offer valuable insights into how the other half live, as Helen Czerski describes.
  • Tools for learning, July 2009
    Some instruments in teaching laboratories may look old-fashioned, but those wooden boxes can hold surprisingly advanced equipment. George Herold describes his career designing experiments for undergraduate labs.
  • Don't panic, June 2009
    The job market for new graduates and career-changers in 2009 is not great, but there are signs that physicists may be better equipped than most, as Margaret Harris explains
  • Riding the red dragon, May 2009
    Western universities have long welcomed visiting students and academics from the Far East. Now China’s ascendance offers career opportunities for researchers like Ian Broadwell who want to make the reverse journey
  • Riding the storm out, April 2009
    A career in severe-weather research offers flexibility and plenty of opportunities to experience the fascinating physics of the rotating fluid called the atmosphere. Josh Wurman describes the science of storm-chasing and why hurricanes are scarier than tornadoes
  • Living life on 'Mars', March 2009
    The quest for clear, dark skies has led astronomers to build telescopes far away from the lights and smog of modern civilization, but what is it like to live and work in such places? Elena Mason describes her career at one of the world’s most remote observatories
  • The science of fine art, February 2009
    Working at the interface of science and art, conservation research extends our knowledge of artworks and helps keep fragile items safe for future generations. Christina Young explains how physics can help to preserve our cultural heritage
  • A fresh look at nuclear, January 2009
    A new industry-wide graduate scheme aims to get the next generation of nuclear scientists thinking about community and environmental issues from the outset. Susie Hay and Michael Kelk describe the “nucleargraduates” programme
  • Space to explore, December 2008
    A career in space technology offers great scope for creativity and the chance to build something new. It can even make you relatively popular at parties, as Kevin Middleton describes
  • One year left to go, October 2008
    As they enter their final year of undergraduate study, six students from around the globe share with Physics World their perspectives on physics, their courses and the future
  • Have PhD, will travel, October 2008
    Life as a postdoctoral researcher offers opportunities for making independent contributions to science, but there are pitfalls too, as Margaret Harris explains
  • Rewards of renewables, September 2008
    Thanks to concerns about carbon emissions and the rising price of fossil fuels, the green-energy industry is currently experiencing huge growth worldwide. This presents plenty of interesting and lucrative opportunities for physicists, as Gregory McNamee describes
  • Secure your future, August 2008
    A background in physics plus a keen interest in politics and current affairs can add up to a rewarding career in international security, as James Acton explains
  • Building for the future, July 2008
    The surprising pleasures of life as a "building physicist"
  • Physicists without borders, May 2008
    The global appeal of working for the IAEA
  • Success is in the bank, May 2008
    Life as a physicist at the Bank of England
  • Back to school, April 2008
    The benefits of outreach programmes that bring researchers into schools
  • The best years of your life?, February 2008
    What to expect from a PhD
  • Physics for a safer world, February 2008
    A job in the UK’s Home Office Scientific Development Branch
  • Generating job options, January 2008
    Life in the nuclear industry
  • The business of medical physics, December 2007
    The rewards and challenges of becoming a medical physicist in industry
  • The route to engineering success, November 2007
    The benefits of becoming a chartered engineer
  • Next steps for physics graduates, October 2007
    What physics students can do when they leave university
  • Life in the line of fire, September 2007
    Working as an instrument scientist
  • Physicists at Aldermaston, August 2007
    Maintaining the UK's nuclear warheads
  • Scientists in the melting pot, July 2007
    Thinking "outside the box"
  • Striking it lucky in the oil industry, June 2007
    Oilfield services firm offers a life of adventure
  • How to become a European champion, May 2007
    Get your share of research funding
  • Making the switch to teaching, April 2007
    Banker took the long way to school
  • Cleaning up the power industry, March 2007
    Making electricity more green
  • Sensing a challenge, February 2007
    Research a priority at electronics firm

last edited: September 11, 2018

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