Marieke Navin

totally gutted to be evicted! bye everyone

Favourite Thing: Doing something that no-one has done before! Playing a very small role in writing the science books of tomorrow and pushing the boundaries of our understanding



1989-1996 Helsby High School GCSEs and A levels


Sheffield 1996-2000 Physics and Astronomy MPhys. 2003-2010 Sheffield PhD Particle Physics

Work History:

After I finished uni I took some time out and travelled around the world. To save up I worked as a debt collector! I also did this job as part of my travels in Sydney, Australia.


Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

Current Job:

Science Communication Officer

Me and my work

I help to build a detector to look at small particles called neutrinos and communicate my love of science to people

I am a research student in particle physics at Sheffield university. Particle physics is amazing! It is the study of the tiny particles and forces that make up the Universe. We can capture high energy particles as they bombard us from space or make particle beams of our own.  Particle physics tries to explain how the Universe was created and what it is made of. I study particles called neutrinos. They have nearly no mass and can pass through anything, they pass right through our bodies all the time. This makes them really difficult to detect, as to detect them you need to be able to catch them and they don’t like to be caught! So we have to build the biggest detectors we can afford. We have built some in the sea or in the ice in the south pole. The experiment I work on is in Japan, at the bottom of a deep mine beneath some mountains, to shield the experiment from other types of particles.

I also work at a museum of science as their resident scientist. I think of ways to show how exciting science is. I get to do really fun things then explain the science behind them. Here is a picture of me doing a coke and mentos explosion myimage1 and trying to walk on custard myimage2.  Can you work out the science behind these experiments?

My Typical Day

For me, the absolute best thing about being a scientists is that there is NO typical day! Otherwise I would get so bored.

 I’ll make a list of some of the things that I could be doing, here it goes:

travelling to a conference (possibly overseas!), making slides for a presentation, giving a talk about my work, doing experiments in the lab, having a meeting with my supervisor to see how i’m getting on, chatting with other academics and asking questions or trying to solve problems, marking students work (as a tutor), emailing, talking on the phone, making graphs, looking at data, reasearching on the internet, reading a scientific paper out of a journal, attending a seminar, asking questions, getting stuck, writing up my results, writing a computer program to simulate particles passing through a detector, growing mould, testing paint or plastics or glue for my detector I am builing, contructing a muon telescope, panicking that i’ll never finish my thesis, wondering what on earth my results are telling me, making a cup of tea.

Here are some things in a typical day that I do when working at the museum as a science communicator:

talking on the phone with scientists who want to communicate their work, watching science shows, visiting science festivals, training people on how to do some fun demos, explaining atoms to somebody, writing some text for a museum exhibit, writing a chemistry show, going to conferences, meeting people, reading science blogs and keeping up with twitter, persuading scientists to do something amazing for us, writing grant applications to ask for money, making a fun science video, talking to families about science, panicking that I’ve got so much to do and not enough time, making a cup of tea…

What I'd do with the money

Make a cosmic ray jacket!

Cosmic rays are very high energy particles from outer space that hit our planet. We can detect these particles using devices called “scintillators” which emit light when a particle passes through them.  An idea I’ve had for ages is to make a cosmic ray detector jacket –  as you wear it you can see when you’ve been hit my a cosmic ray! I think it would blow the wearer’s mind to see how often they were being bombarded by these particles!

The principle of the jacket is as follows:

  • scintillator shoulder pads – when a cosmic ray goes through the scintillator on your shoulder, the scintillator emits a flash of light. This light is transferred to a matchbox sized detector attached to your back. This detector converts the small light pulse into an electrical signal
  • This signal is passed into a chip also on your back which fires LED strips that are placed all over the jacket. The LEDS light up when the cosmic ray has hit you!


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Happy, haphazard, hungry!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Alanis Morissette

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Hiked the grand canyon.

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

That my baby grows up to be healthy and happy, I graduate my PhD and I continue to love and be challenged by my job

What did you want to be after you left school?

an astronaut!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I once dropped a hot ceramic triangular bowl on my chemistry teacher’s foot and he was not pleased!

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

Travelled to Japan and helped to refurbish our huge detector. I had to go down a mine, wear protective clothing and get lowered into a gigantic water tank. It was AMAZING

Tell us a joke.

I like really stupid jokes. Ok, a man walked into a bar. He said Ow! It was an iron bar. I know that’s a bit naff…here’s one that’s even worse as it’s a relativity joke: A bar walked into a man…. Sorry! Wrong reference frame!