Photo:

Dr Hywel Jones

only minutes until the result, arrgghhhhh! nail biting stuff.

Favourite Thing: Solving problems. There’s nothing like that moment when, by using your knowledge, some analytical methods and some team work, you suddenly realise you’ve solved the problem you’d set out to tackle.

My CV

School:

Ebbw Vale Senior Comprehensive, Ebbw Vale (Wales)

University:

University of Warwick (88 to 96)

Work History:

University of Warwick

Employer:

Sheffield Hallam University

Current Job:

Consultant and Principal Researcher

Me and my work

I’m a materials scientist working in a university but also working with industry to solve their problems

At the university I carry out research on a range of materials, including ceramics (for armour), precious metals (for jewellery) and super-hard materials (for knives and wear resistant parts).  Occasionally this research will end up with us “inventing stuff” and we go on to patent the material or process and hopefully it will get used by industry and in the wider world.  When that happens successfully its even possible to make money from it.

The work normally includes some travel, to conferences, meetings with international collaborators or to give invited lectures etc.  This year I’ve been to the US and Japan and I’m off to China next month.

I have PhD students studying how to make knives cut better and last longer, a project on improving the efficiency of coal milling (makes the whole process use and emit less CO2) and a project developing new lighter weight ceramic armour materials (the army shoot at my work, I dont take it personally).  The students are learning how to become really good scientists and at the same time helping companies with the outcomes of their research.  They also get to work within the sponsoring companies and also get to travel to conferences.  My students have been to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, USA and Canada recently.

I also work with companies when they have problems that I can help them solve using my expertise or the amazing equipment that the university.  Its kind a bit like CSI for materials.  In fact some of the work we do is forensic in nature; car crash investigations, failed components etc.  We often see things we use everyday featured on CSI.

My Typical Day

Solving problems using analytical methods, supervising students (who are learning to do this too) and dealing with enquiries from industry

When working with companies you never know what the next phone call will bring.  It could be to analyse something in a cucumber sandwich, part of a nuclear submarine or to try and tell why someone’s brakes have failed (all have happened).

The research work is longer term and invloves managing a project of perhaps 3 years in length.  Usually I look after a number of PhD students who are carrying out these projects.

What I'd do with the money

Fund the design of a webpage/blog to promote materials science

I think that the use of Facebook, Twitter etc. and other blogging and websites can make the work of scientist more visible and more accessible to the public and to those in school and hopefully that will inspire them to want to do science as a career as it is such a rewarding thing to do.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

logical, determined, down-to-earth

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Ben Folds

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Travelled around Australia

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) to always enjoy my job (tick), (2) to live in Australia/New Zealand one day (3) to be recognised for my contribution

What did you want to be after you left school?

Inventor/Astronaut/Trombone Player

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yes but I wont say what for!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

made a difference

Tell us a joke.

Two hydrogen atoms are walking down the street. One says “I think I just lost an electron”, the other says “Are you sure?” and the first one replies “Yes, I’m positive!”. Ba ba boom!!