#WomenonWednesdays: Jessie Durk

This week for the series we interviewed Dr. Jessie Durk, Research Associate in the Physics Education Group at the Department and Vice-President of our very own Women in Physics Society!

As a little introduction, what of Physics do you specialize in?

I specialise in physics education, which involves educational psychology, social/cognitive science, and data analysis, as well as knowledge of physics itself to be able to research how students learn different physics topics, and the most effective ways to teach and assess students. I’m currently working on the Strengthening Learning Communities project which aims to improve students’ sense of belonging in the department.

What is your background? Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My background is in theoretical physics. I completed undergraduate degree at Imperial, a masters in theoretical physics at King’s, and a PhD in theoretical cosmology at Queen Mary University of London. I’ve since then been a postdoctoral researcher in physics/science education at Cambridge and King’s, before taking up this position, so I’ve come full circle! It was during my undergraduate and PhD that I realised how much I enjoy education and teaching young people, but I wanted to stay in research. I then found out you can actually research education, which I had no idea about, and that’s how my career path altered slightly.

During your journey, what has your experience of being a woman in Physics been like? Both positives and negatives!  

There have definitely been both positives and negatives, but luckily more positives than negatives. I think that’s come about through making an active effort to join initiatives similar to WiP, especially during my PhD where you are part of a much smaller group than a 250 strong undergraduate cohort, so you need to form those close connections with people who are also going through similar things to yourself.

What do you like to do outside of Physics?

Outside of physics I like to go swimming and bouldering, enjoying local parks and nature, and listening to live music.

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