Lucie – Research Fellow in Solar Physics

If you are interested in space and the universe, you like physics and maths at school, and think you could plan future space missions, this could be the job for you! Read on to find out more…

What attracted you to this job?

I was drawn to my job because research at the cutting edge requires you to be logical, methodic and rigorous, but also to be creative and think outside the box. I enjoy developing and using skills in all these areas.

What does your typical day involve?

I don’t really have a typical day because there are so many elements to being a researcher. I spend a lot of time reading and analysing solar data that are taken with telescopes on various spacecraft to produce my scientific ideas. However, I also work on ideas for future space missions to study the Sun, attend conferences, mentor students and run public engagement activities.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

There are two main elements of my job that satisfy me the most. I love identifying a fundamental question about the way our Sun works and then finding an answer to that question. However, I also love discussing all aspects of space science with a wide range of people. Space is such an amazing inspiration!

What do your friends and family think about your job?

I frequently get told how lucky I am to have this job, and I agree whole-heartedly!

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance

The drive to understand the Universe that we live in can be very consuming. When I am hooked on a science question I cannot leave it alone. I think about it wherever I am, no matter what I am doing. I tend to work long hours but I can be flexible about these as it’s not a 9-to-5 job.

How did you get to where you are today?

I took a very traditional route from school to university, studying for my Masters and then my PhD. I was always keen to do work experience at school and university though to give me an idea of career options.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your path?

Don’t forget maths! I wished that I had taken my maths further at school; it certainly would have made university and everything that followed a lot easier. Also, I would suggest reading popular astronomy magazines to get an idea of the current big questions in space science and what missions and facilities are being built to answer them.

How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

In the UK the salary doesn’t go up fast but has a good starting point of just under £30k.

What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

I always find it hard to answer this question because the boundary between work and play, for me, is blurry. Understanding the Universe is what lights my fire! Outside of work though I am normally travelling to see new places around the world or catching up with some of the amazing people I have met through the years.