Pupils from Craigour Park Primary School in Edinburgh interviewed some of our staff and PhD students about their research. In this article, they quiz PhD student Niamh Maher about her interest in colliding atoms together!
When you were younger, what was your dream job? Has it changed since?
When I was 7 I wanted to be a yellow bus driver, but there were no yellow buses in Ireland, so this was from watching TV. And then I wanted to be a teacher for a bit. Then, I grew a fond interest in Chemistry and Physics.
What achievement are you most proud of, linked to your work?
I’ve done research projects and am proud of helping people learn. I worked at a Maths Centre while completing my undergraduate studies. I am happy that I got to help people with my skills.
What part of particle physics do you enjoy researching the most?
I’m interested in colliding atoms together. In the particle collider in Switzerland, they collide two particles together very quickly. Then, these particles split into smaller particles. I’m interested in how they talk and communicate to each other and how they interact. I’m also interested in working out the probability of something happening.
What kind of computer programmes are used to do the maths?
I use a programme called Mathematica. You can type in, let’s say 5 + 4 and it’ll give you the answer. It’s like an ordinary calculator, but it does more. You can even draw graphs with it.
Are you proud of what you studied?
Yes, and I wouldn’t change what I’m doing.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like playing Lacrosse. It’s a sport with a stick and it has a net at the end of it. There are 10 people on a team and you catch a ball in it.
What brought you to Scotland?
I’m from Ireland but living in Scotland isn’t too far from Ireland. I wanted to live in a city. I have always liked Edinburgh, and with my supervisor working on interesting projects, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
Do you have any pets?
No, because I live in an apartment and they don’t allow pets.
What was your favourite subject in school?
I like languages as well, so I would say French and Physics.
If you could have one last meal, what would that meal be?
The last thing I would eat is chocolate cake.
Do you have any advice for young children and adults that want to become scientists?
I think the most important thing is to ask questions. No one starts off knowing everything. Ask questions, use the internet and go to talks.
Links and resources
- Check out all our Craigour Park Primary School interviews.
- Read more about this project with Craigour Park Primary School, Edinburgh.
- Learn more about Niamh’s research.