Name: Dr Andrew Princep
Current Job: Keeley-Rutherford Junior Research Fellow in Physics, Wadham College Oxford and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source
Scientific Discipline/Field: Condensed Matter Physics
Country: United Kingdom
Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q,+, etc.): G
Twitter or other social media handle (if applicable): @AJPrincep
What does your job involve?
I go to nuclear reactors and particle accelerators around the world, where I using neutron and x-ray beams to explore electronic and magnetic phenomena in artificially grown crystals. This kind of work looks to use quantum mechanics to understand how the atomic building blocks of materials combine together to give us useful technology like magnets, superconductors, and in the future maybe new types of quantum computers.
How did you get to this job (education etc.)?
I did an undergraduate degree in Nanotechnology at Curtin University in Western Australia. I then did my Honours (kind of like a Masters) and my PhD in Physics after I fell in love with my amazing 3rd year electromagnetism lecturer (She was a great role model, although she has since left science to become a successful ceramic artist!). After my PhD at the University of New South Wales, I was lucky enough to be offered a postdoc at Oxford University Physics in the area of Quantum Materials. From there, its been a rollercoaster ride into my current position.
Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?
Being LGBT definitely influenced my decision to take up a visiting scientist position in Berlin in 2016, and is why i might return there for the long haul – Berlin is just the most LGBT friendly city I have ever visited.
Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?
I have been fortunate that my colleagues have been universally welcoming of myself and my long-term partner, who has been made welcome at all of the events and Christmas parties we have had through work.
Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated…)?
Annemieke Mulders, my undergraduate lecturer, was a real source of inspiration to me. I was also inspired by Mark Odgen, my undergraduate chemistry co-ordinator, who I am fortunate to now collaborate with. I’ve always been awed by Philip W. Anderson, one of the real giants of condensed matter and when I am a cranky old man I hope to be a lot like him. Recently though, I’ve come to terms with the fact that the scientist I wish to be most like is 7 of 9, of Star Trek Voyager fame. She is simply the most driven and amazing example of a scientist that exists in popular culture!
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I am working to implement new LGBT friendly workplace policies at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well as form a local research hub for the study of magnetism in metal-organic crystals. In the longer term I dream of having a small research group which enables a few driven individuals to pursue research in aspects of condensed matter that they find interesting. I think this kind of well-supported but free-form approach is a really nourishing environment to be in.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just by being visibly out and doing science, you will inspire other people to do the same, and thereby live their best life. Also, most of the people who will end up considering you a role model you will probably never even realise!