Dr Suzie Sheehy

Particle Physicist

Suzie Sheehy

About my job: I work on designing machines called particle accelerators to help solve big challenges in the world. You might have heard of atoms, the tiny building blocks that make up everything around us (including us!). These machines take atoms or the particles inside atoms (called protons or electrons) and give them lots of energy.

Accelerators are pretty big but really useful! The ones I design are usually shaped like a big doughnut at least the size of a big room but sometimes many miles around! Some possible uses for the machines I design include treating diseases like cancer or helping to make electricity cheaper and better for the environment. I spend a lot of time working on a computer, designing big magnets and other things, but sometimes I get to do experiments using a real accelerator.

I usually have to travel to Japan for that (I’m a big fan of Japanese food so I always enjoy it!) My job is great for someone who likes to travel, I’ve been all over the world meeting other scientists at conferences, presenting my work and doing experiments.

Suzie is our Power box champion.

I love being a scientist because...

I get to learn about things that no-one else has known before, and use my work to make a difference to people’s lives.

The most awesome thing I have done so far is...

Getting to talk about my work to thousands of people on stage, including making some very big explosions!

My heroes are...

Constantly changing! I’m inspired by all kinds of people, from sportspeople to philosophers as well as scientists. But some scientists that have inspired me are Marie Curie (she won TWO nobel prizes!), Richard Feynman (physicist, but also great at talking about it) and Jocelyn Bell Burnell (physicist, whom I have the privilege of being in the same department with at Oxford).

Advice I would give my 7 year old self...

Play with the world, build things, have fun!

At primary school my favourite thing to do was...

I really enjoyed school. My favourite subject was music but I would also compete in the science challenges my teacher would set, they were fun! I remember winning a prize for making the best home-made thermos flask.

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