Robert Thompson

Less than an hour until voting closes ..... Go on Press Vote ! :)

Favourite Thing: I love playing with light. ____________________________________________ By firing a laser at something I can give it energy (like you drinking a can of red-bull). If I give you 1 can of red-bull you have enough energy to do a PE lesson, but if I give you 10 you can run the marathon. It’s sort of the same … If I fire red light at my stuff they can do one thing, if I fire green light at them they do something else. It’s pretty cool I can control things with just the colour I fire at them.



Our Lady’s High School – Preston, Cardinal Newman College – Preston


Durham University, UCL – London

Work History:

Many different things, waiter, petrol station attendant, sound engineer, lighting engineer (for a circus), bar man



Current Job:

Post Graduate researcher (PhD student) — I play with powerful lasers and expensive Microscopes —

Me and my work

I look at funky crystals which conduct electricity in weird ways; to do this I use powerful lasers and really large microscopes. Did you know some plastics conduct electricity!

Hey guys, I’m Rob,

I’m 25 and I live in London. I work at UCL and I’m a Physicist,

What do I do in science?    Well before I came to UCL I used to study at Durham University.  At Durham I spent 4 years learning about lots of different types of physics, some of my favourites were Space, Quantum physics and the physics of materials. I decided that I wanted to look at materials. I look at a special type of material called organic materials, and they are going to be the future of all out gadgets, (imagine an i-pad that is as flexible as a piece of paper). I spend my time looking at these materials under microscopes which are very big and work by;

  • Firing small particles (like firing tennis balls at a rocky wall and seeing where they bounce) ,
  • or running pins over the surface (like a DJ’s vinyl record player),

I also spend a lot of time firing lasers at things and seeing what happens.


Here is a show where I talk to the Guardian about they type of materials I look at  (our bit starts at around 2 minutes)

What do I do in my spare time?  I love music, sport, films and TV. I play the sax, piano and bass and love it, I also go to gigs, Glastonbury festival every year (its not on this year so I’m gutted). I really enjoy watching sport (6 nations rugby at the moment) and go out cycling most weekends.  Favourite TV show at the moment is probably Top Gear (or take me out), best movie I’ve seen recently is the Muppets (though I probably shouldn’t admit that).

My Typical Day

No day is ever the same, but there’s always lots to do, I’m rarely bored. I’m my own boss so I have a lot of flexibility too,

Here’s an example of what I might get up to:

  • 8:00     Get up, — have some breakfast,
  • 8:15      Cycle to work (7miles, on a good day it takes 25 minutes) — have a shower at work

View from UCL office window
View of London from my office, Pretty cool, can see St- Paul’s the other way

  • 9:00     Read my emails, check facebook, look at the news
  • 10:00  Head to the laboratory, have some fun with lasers and hope I don’t break anything
  • 12:30  Go to the gym for a bit, grab a quick lunch,
  • 1:30     Head back to the office for a meeting with someone who wants to talk about some science,
  • 2:00    Go back to the lab and use a microscope to see if I did any damage with my laser (sometimes I might have burnt my   material),
  • 5:30    Head home and then have an evening watching some TV or meet a friend in the pub for a glass of shandy

What I'd do with the money

A big interactive art display which answers science questions.

I’m a massive fan of big art. I have worked in technical theatre and for a circus  so love alternative art as well.  I’d like to create an interactive art display about science and put it up somewhere… Maybe a funky video projected on a building which answers science questions …. Possibly some of the questions I get asked on here

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Top notch guy,

Who is your favourite singer or band?

This question isn’t fair, No one favourite … Adelle, Mumford and sons, Cold play, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Fatboy slim, U2 (+ anyone I see at Glastonbury)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Surfing, I spent my last summer holiday by the sea and learnt to surf … such fun, and had a great tan at the end.

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

To win the lottery (I guess I’d need to play the lottery for that to happen), Have a super power (not sure which one), Have a star ship to travel round the universe.

What did you want to be after you left school?

An actor … ha I’m a long way from doing that

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really – Some times I got in trouble for skiving but I’d normally be found in the Music or Drama department.

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

Got to travel to America to tell hundreds of other scientists about what I do. — Spent an entire week in Boston

Tell us a joke.

I was reading this book today, The History Of Glue and I couldn’t put it down.