My education

I was born and bred in Middlesbrough (an industrial town in the North East of England; the header image above shows the town laid out in all its glory). My infant school, primary school, and secondary school no longer exist — they’ve long since been demolished. Acklam Hall, which housed my 6th Form College, at least still exists; it’s the only Grade I listed building in Middlesbrough. Nowadays, though, it offers instead a wedding venue and serviced office accommodation.

After ‘A’ levels I took a BSc Physics (1st class honors) at the University of Bristol. The city itself is a wonderful place, and some of my happiest memories are of my time at Bristol — the people, the town, and the university.

The physics department at Bristol has been associated with some illustrious names. Paul Dirac, who studied mathematics at Bristol, sat in on lectures about quantum theory by Arthur Tyndall. The Nobel Prize winners Nevill Mott and Cecil Frank were professors at Bristol. During my time as a student there it was a privilege to be taught by, among others, John Nye and Michael Berry.

After Bristol I took a PhD in theoretical particle physics at the University of Manchester. The city has been transformed since I was a student there. It’s much improved.

The physics department at Manchester is one of the largest in the UK, and a number of Nobel Prize winners have held positions there: JJ Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Lawrence Bragg, Niels Bohr, James Chadwick, Patrick Blackett, John Cockcroft, Hans Bethe, Nevill Mott (he moved to Bristol after Manchester), Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov.

To finish with the post-nominals, I’ve been elected M.Inst.P., C.Phys. and SFHEA. (Which reminds me of a scene from my all-time favourite TV show Cheers. Frasier Crane: “Everybody, I’d like you to meet my date, Dr Lilith Sternin, MD, PhD, EdD, APA.” Woody Boyd: “Boy, it sure isn’t spelled like it sounds.”)