Tom Jubb

Radiation Physicist

Tom Jubb talks through what it’s like being a physicist at Kromek and his route to a radiation physics career.

Where and what did you study at university?

I studied at Durham University in the UK, where I spent eight years completing a BSc, Masters and PhD in theoretical physics, specializing in astrophysics and detection of dark matter.

Whilst completing my PhD I took three months out to work at Kromek developing techniques and algorithms to detect liquid explosives in airport scanners.

I then spent six months in Abingdon-on-Thames working as a software developer in C++ and Python, working on the Mantid software for analysis of data from the Diamond Light Source based at the Rutherford Appleton Labs.

Realizing my potential in innovation and radiation physics I made the move back to the North East to work with Kromek on a permanent basis.

Tom Jubb radiation physicist at Kromek

What do you do day-to-day at Kromek?

I work day-to-day in the field of aviation security developing and testing detectors and algorithms to meet the challenges of the day in explosive detection. My days are varied between lab measurements, experiment design and data collections, and developing theoretical tools such as simulations and techniques for material detection. I travel frequently to interface with colleagues abroad and to meet with customers, and experts in various disciplines. All of this contributes to vibrant R&D projects and make Kromek such a varied and innovative place to work.

I am given the freedom to explore ideas and to direct my own work; whilst having the support of a fantastic team around me. We have some incredible problem solvers and every week is a new opportunity to learn.

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

My advice to anybody wanting a career in physics is to make sure you focus your learning in core areas which you will use day in and day out. Learn about coding and programming; pick a language and learn it well and use it to store, sort, measure and analyse data (I recommend Python for beginners or C++ for more experienced coders). If you want to develop your coding skills look at software development topics. Statistics is always a welcome skill for any physics job. Data science and in particular machine learning are rapidly growing fields and these ideas are almost always applied to powerful effect in research.

Try to get some industry experience through summer internships or partnerships between universities and local companies (talk to your supervisor or members of staff who work in an area you are interested in).

Most of all though; be creative and innovative and always strive to think about problems in a new way, develop new techniques or apply techniques from different disciplines into a new area. This is the hardest skill but the one that matters most in R&D for a physicist; the only way to get it down is to get experience and challenge yourself every day.


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