Life for me began in Chesterfield, a Derbyshire market town famous for the church with a crooked spire. Although much of my childhood was spent 'over the moor' in Darley Dale, I later returned to Chesterfield and attended the excellent, though sadly no more, Chesterfield School. Here I was fortunate to find an inspiring collection of teachers who played a large part in my subsequent move to Oxford to read physics at Keble College. Graduating with first class honours in 1994, I remained in Oxford to study for a D.Phil. in atomic and laser physics with PEG Baird and PGH Sandars. My thesis project (entitled "A solid state laser system for high resolution spectroscopy of the 1S-2S transition in muonium") formed part of an international collaboration using the muon facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
My experiences of 'beam time' left me eager to try my hand at some 'table-top' physics and in 1998 I moved into the field of laser cooling and Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) working with Chris Foot in Oxford. Later that year I was awarded a Lindemann Fellowship to work with Carl Wieman on BEC at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado. During my two year stay in the United States, I helped develop the first experiment to condense 85Rb. This isotope has a broad Feshbach resonance permitting the precise control of the atomic interactions in a condensate. We exploited the ability to manipulate the interactions to probe the collapse of a condensate (a process known fondly as the Bosenova!); research that was later cited in the award of the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics to Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle.
In 2001 I returned to Oxford to work with Chris Foot. I supervised the development of an experiment to explore new regimes of evaporative cooling of caesium in a magnetic trap, with the hope of finding a route to BEC. Shortly after returning to Oxford I was appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship at Brasenose college. Although BEC eluded us, we learnt much about the limitations of evaporative cooling in the hydrodynamic regime and performed precise measurements of a number of Feshbach resonances. In October 2002 I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to pursue my interest in Feshbach resonances and their application to neutral atom quantum computation.
I moved to the University of Durham in Januray 2004, where I have established an experimental research group studying ultracold quantum matter. I currently lead three distinct experiments studying the use Feshbach resonances to both tune the atomic interactions in Bose-Einstein condensates and to create ultracold heteronculear molecules. You can read more about the fun things we are doing by following the links above. If you are interested in learning more or possibly want to join the group, then please don't hesitate to contact me.