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Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow (Solar Physics)

Name: Dr. Lucie Green

Job title: Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow (Solar Physics)

What education and qualifications do you have?

I went to an all girls school and left with 9 GCSEs, 4 A-levels and 1 AS. I followed physics to A-level because I really enjoyed the subject; and because it was an all girls school science wasn't seen as something that only boys could do. In fact most of my physics teachers were female! Then I went to the University of Sussex, and from there I graduated with a 2:I MPhys degree in Physics with Astrophysics. It was at Sussex uni. that I became interested in the Sun as a laboratory for physics after I made a field trip to the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. So I then decided to do a PhD in solar physics at MSSL which I finished in 2002.

Give an outline of your career so far

I have followed an academic route! So, I've have been trained at university first by doing my degree and then PhD. Studying for the degree improved my physics knowledge, but it was only by studying for the PhD that I really understood how to do independant research. The next step for a young researcher who would like to stay doing research, is to do what we call a 'post-doc'. That's what I'm currently working as at MSSL.

All along the way though I have been involved in encouraging other people also to study and understand science. This started off with me being involved with small science events, working closely with other students, to doing radio interviews, organising my own science festival and presenting BBC astronomy programmes.

Why did you choose this career path?

Firstly, because I enjoy it and it's always interesting. But also because it presents a challenge in many areas. For example, I use computers and my physics background, but I'm also able to communicate science to a wide range of people in a variety of ways. Another driving force for me is that I really want to be able to make a contribution to what we know about the Sun.

What does your current work involve?

It mostly based on computers. I get up to minute data on the Sun which are taken by satellites. Then I analyse it to try to understand why we see the activity that we do on the solar surface. When I find something new, or realise that I can explain why an event on the Sun happens, I write it up and publish it as a paper for other scientists around the world to read. Another way to tell other people about my findings is to go to some of the many conferences that are organised. This is a real hightlight of the job as they are often held in lovely locations!

The work I do in schools is generally not based around computers as I like to encourage people to do activities and experiments that illustrate the science and maths behind different cosmic objects. One day I could be out in the playground making a scale model of the solar system, the next I could be making spacecraft to land on a mock martian surface or showing how stars are able to generate a magnetic field.

Hobbies and interests outside work

Well, I get pretty consumed by my work and it doesn't leave a lot of time for play! But I do enjoy dancing, tennis and going out with my friends and family.

Lucie broadcasting on BBC Southern Counties Radio

Image of the Sun at X-ray wavelengths taken by the Yohkoh satellite

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