I grew up in Shirenewton, South Wales, and went to Shirenewton Primary School and then Monmouth Boys School. After school I took a GAP year, seven months of it working as an auditor with Deloitte in Birmingham and three months in Africa, mostly volunteering in Malawi but also doing some backpacking.
I spent four years at St John's College Durham doing in integrated Masters, with a Masters project studying species specific optical lattices for Group I atoms and performing laser spectroscopy in a Cs vapour cell. Sold by the joys of physics, I began a PhD working on Rydberg gases of ultracold strontium, also in Durham, with Matt Jones.
When I began the project, the focus was on singlet Rydberg atoms, which have more accessible wavelengths and a broader intermediate transition, but with the development of a tunable high power 319nm laser laser () we now focus on excitation of triplet Rydberg atoms via the spin-forbidden 5s5p 3P1 state. The narrow intermediate lines offer precision spectroscopy, the Rydberg states offer a range of attractive and repulsive, isotropic and anisotropic interactions, and the combination of the two offer the technique of Rydberg dressing; using an offresonant laser to mix Rydberg character into ground or lowlying states to induce tunable interactions between ground state atoms. This is now the focus of the project.