Name: Dr Mat Page
Job title: Reader in Astronomy
What education and qualifications do you have?
Comprehensive school: 9 GCSEs, 3 A levels, 1 S level. University College London: BSc Mathematics and Astronomy (1st), PhD Astronomy
Give an outline of your career so far
Age 4-18 School; 18-21 Undergraduate at UCL; 21-24 PhD student at MSSL; 24-28 Postdoctoral research fellow at MSSL; 28-34 Lecturer; 34-present Reader.
Why did you choose this career path?
I always wanted to be a scientist, I'm fascinated by physics, machines, space, etc, was quite good at maths, and loved the idea of doing research. When I went to university in 1990 I was advised to do a maths or physics degree, and plumped for maths and astronomy as I found astronomy very interesting. After my degree, I decided to do a PhD in astronomy, as I had become more and more interested in astronomy during my degree. I found astronomy research to be incredibly rewarding. Towards the end of my PhD I was offered a postdoctoral research post at MSSL, and jumped at the chance. I took the lectureship because it is a permanent job, and should allow me to keep doing research for as long as I like.
What does your current work involve?
Currently, I spend a lot of my time doing research. I study supermassive black holes, the processes which take place around them and their history and role in shaping the Universe towards its present shape. I work mostly with satellite data taken from the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory but also travel to ground based observatories to take data. I spend much of my time analysing data from these observatories, and writing computer programs to help me analyse the data. I travel quite frequently to other Universities within the UK and abroad to present my research to other scientists, and to take part in several committees that are designing astronomical telescopes and satellites for the future. I frequently have to review and assess other scientists' work and proposals. I also supervise undergraduate and PhD students who are undertaking research projects at MSSL. I lecture "High Energy Astrophysics" and "Cosmology and Extragalactic Astronomy" to students taking the UCL Diploma in Astronomy. This is a part time, evening course and it is really good to teach because the students are always full of enthusiasm.
Hobbies and interests outside work
I quite like growing vegetables, and I'm slowly returning my antique mini to life after an unfortunate accident on the M25.