Blog posts

#WomenonWednesdays: Bilgesu Aydın

We interviewed 3rd year MSci Physics student Bilgesu Aydın for our series! Bilgesu was President of the Imperial College Physics Society during the academic year 2020-21. She was the youngest president ever and the first woman to hold the title (as far as anyone in the Department today knows).

How did you come to study Physics?

I come from a fairly academic family, both my parents are academics and I spent most of my summers as a child around the university, among PhD vivas, chilling around with books. Academia was something in my life from a very young age. When I was younger I was definitely very interested in science – I used to read a lot of popular science books and magazines. I then had a period where I had changing phases of interests – these ranged from various forms of art and design to law and economics. It really wasn’t until my last two years of school that I decided for sure that I wanted to study physics and an internship I did at an observatory over the summer helped me make this decision. The pleasure I got from being able to answer questions about everything around me made want to learn as much physics as I can.


#WomenonWednesdays: Helen Brindley

This week for our Women on Wednesdays series we have Dr Helen Brindley, Professor in Earth Observation at the Department.

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

Atmospheric Physics – particularly climate focused Earth Observation.  This is the design, build and use of instrumentation to monitor and understand the Earth’s climate, from the ground, aircraft and space.

What kick started your career in Physics?

Doing a work experience placement at RAF Mount Batten in Plymouth.  If this sounds strange, the base doubled as the local weather station and I had a great time plotting maps, making observations and even giving a radio weather forecast.  I subsequently found out that the two most important subjects for a career in meteorology were Physics and Maths.


#WomenonWednesdays: Fay Dowker

For the first of the interviews in our series, we spoke to Professor Fay Dowker, who is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Department.

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

I work on quantum gravity which is a name we give to a “problem” rather than a “theory”. The problem is that our current best understanding of gravity — General Relativity — and our current best understanding of matter — Quantum Theory — do not fit in the same conceptual framework as each other. Sometimes people say they are “contradictory” but on the other hand, each one is very successful in a certain realm. Those of us working on the problem of quantum gravity are trying to go beyond those realms — for example at the Big Bang and at the singularities of Black Holes. We want to find an overarching framework for all of fundamental physics that will recover the theories we know when we know they work and extend our understanding so we can answer questions like “what happened before the Big Bang.” My particular work is on an approach to the problem of quantum gravity called Causal Set Theory in which spacetime is hypothesised to be fundamentally discrete or granular. My work also involves the foundations of quantum mechanics because the problem of quantum gravity forces us to face up to — what I consider to be — the incompleteness of our understanding of quantum theory and what it is telling us about the nature of the quantum world.