Alexander Cherlin

Principal physicist

Alex describes how he became a physicist, why he specialised in radiation physics and what it is like being a radiation physicist at Kromek

Where and what did you study at university?

I have completed my undergrad in Physics at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and my Masters and PhD in Applied Physics at Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. I was interested in particle physics since I was a teenager. It always fascinated me to know more about how our world is built up and where the laws of Nature are coming from. During my study at Weizmann Institute, I was a part of the CERES/NA45 collaboration which was running experiments at CERN SPS (before it was upgraded to LHC). We were looking after the evidence for the existence of Quark-Gluon plasma (primordial “soup” and quarks and gluons are they supposedly existed a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang) and restoration of the chiral symmetry which is broken under the “low” temperature conditions of the normal Universe. Having a chance to work in this amazing environment gave me a big inspiration to continue with physics in the academy and then later in industry.

Alex Cherlin radiation physicist Kromek

What do you specialise in?

My specialisation is ionising radiation and particle detectors and applications. Most of the projects I am working on are in the area of Medical Imaging, but I am also involved in the R&D for nuclear and security applications. The ionising radiation is radiation which is energetic enough to ionise the medium which it’s passing through. The most known type of such radiation is x-rays which are widely used in medicine and industry to obtain information about the internal structure of the living organisms or inanimate objects. My areas of expertise include nuclear and semiconductor physics, physics of detectors, imaging science, physics simulations using GEANT4 and COMSOL, detector electronics and other areas required for my work. I utilise my knowledge and experience to develop state of the art imaging detectors and applications for various purposes, with my favourite being Medical Imaging.

Why did you choose Kromek as a company to work for?

Kromek is one of a few companies which have access to the technology which is going to revolutionise the area of Medical Imaging, by itself and in collaborations with other prominent players in the field. From my university years, I realised that I am very attracted to the Medical Imaging and getting into that area was always my main aspiration. When Kromek offered me an opportunity to join and be one of the leading members of the team, it didn’t take me too long to agree and even make a very difficult step of relocating with my wife and kids from Israel to the North-East of the UK to realise my dream.

What do you do day to day at Kromek?

My day to day responsibilities covers quite a wide range of things to do – leading R&D projects, developing new ideas, communicating and meeting with companies and universities to discuss ongoing and new projects and business opportunities, reading papers and thinking about new ideas and presenting them to the Kromer’s management. I spend considerable amount of time discussing ongoing work and making plans with my team and other scientists. I continue developing my detector simulation models and analyse the results. I prepare reports and presentations for internal and external meetings, attend conferences and visit existing and potential customers.

Any advice for students looking to get into a physics career?

One of the most valuable things which will help you to stand out is the diversity of knowledge. Try to gain knowledge and experience in a few areas in such a way that you would be able to offer a potential pathway to the end goal basing on your own efforts only. Potential employers appreciate such people very highly and would be ready to make extra steps towards you and overlook other things which otherwise might be seen as insurmountable roadblocks. Don’t disregard developing personal features which demonstrate your ability to focus on the goal, be assertive and ready to take on complicated tasks. Show initiative in everything you do and don’t be afraid to advertise yourself in the best way possible. There is no shame in showing off your achievements if you have something to be proud of!

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