Name: Dhiren Kataria
Job title: Detector Physicist
What education and qualifications do you have?
Masters in Nuclear Physics
Give an outline of your career so far
Completed Master's degree in 1987, specialising in Nuclear Physics. Joined the Nuclear Science Centre, New Delhi, India in July 1988. In December 1988 got the opportunity to participate in a major detector development project, the 4 Pi 'soccer ball' array at the Michigan State University, USA. Also made a significant contribution to another project during that period, the APEX heavy ion detector array, in collaboration with the Argonne National Laboratory, USA. Rejoined the Nuclear Science Centre in 1990, helped set up the detector laboratory and was responsible for several detector and instrumentation development projects. In 1997, joined the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UK on the Cluster II project.
Why did you choose this career path?
I loved physics because it allowed me to explain things that I saw around me and to find out how things work. From why the sun rises and sets to why radiation produces scintillations in certain materials. I wanted to be a theoretical physicist but my master's project, which was on a gamma ray detector, got me so involved that before I knew it, I was employed at an accelerator laboratory pursing detector development. There has been no looking back since.
What does your current work involve?
Currently involved with development activities related to microchannel plate detectors, plasma detectors and prototype plasma instrument development. This involves identifying and designing detectors and instruments, developing new techniques and establishing their space worthiness. Also continue to work on Cluster II since its launch and with activities on two other flight projects, the Mars Express ASPERA instrument and Double Star. The former involves ensuring optimised performance of the detectors in space while the latter involves ground calibration and testing of the instruments prior to launch.
Hobbies and interests outside work
Photography and videography, bird watching, stargazing and travelling.