News in brief

Background graphic illustration in various shades of green
winners with the Head of Department

2024 Cavendish Annual Thesis Prize Winners

The Cavendish Annual Thesis Prize recognises exceptional research in computational, experimental, and theoretical physics by PhD students. This year's nominations were outstanding, but three exceptional candidates stood out for their contributions – Lena Dogra, Sebastian Gorgon, and Thomas Gessey-Jones – and received the prestigious awards. 

They were honoured at the graduate student conference on November 30th 2023, each receiving a prize of £500. Their projects cover a wide range of topics, including determining properties of the first stars, studying new molecular semiconductors, and finding a universal equation of state for turbulent cascades.

Lena Dogra - Winner of the Abdus Salam Prize: ‘Tuneable homogeneous Bose fluids close to and far from equilibrium’

Lena was a PhD student in the AMOP group at the Cavendish Laboratory working with Zoran Hadzibabic. She is now a postdoc in the ‘Klim-QML’ project of the DLR (German Aerospace Center), where they are working on improving global climate models with quantum machine learning.

Sebastian Gorgon - Winner of the Cavendish Prize in Experimental Physics: ‘Interplay of Spin and Photophysics in Luminescent Open-Shell Molecular Semiconductors’

Sebastian is a PhD student in the Optoelectronics group at the Cavendish Laboratory working with Richard Friend, the Cavendish Professor.

Thomas Gessey-Jones - Winner of the Cavendish Prize in Theoretical Physics: ‘Probing The First Stars With The 21-cm Signal: Theory, Methods, and Forecasts’

Thomas is a PhD student in the Astrophysics group at the Cavendish Laboratory working with Eloy de Lera Acedo.

Image: Award Ceremony (left to right) - Lena Dogra, Sebastian Gorgon, Thomas Gessey-Jones, and Mete Atatüre (Head of Department, Cavendish Laboratory)

Celebrating Cavendish Women

March’s Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day were the perfect opportunity to celebrate our current women staff and alumnae. PhD student and Cavendish Ambassador Tara Murphy conducted interviews with various women for her blog series, asking for their advice for young women considering a career in science. The videos of these interviews, filmed and edited by Charlotte Simmonds (also a Cavendish Ambassador) and featuring Hannah Stern, Siân Dutton, Chiara Ciccarelli and Emily Roe, can be found on the Cavendish's Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube channels. You can also read the full interviews on Tara's blogs on the Cavendish's website:

In addition, the March episode of the People Doing Physics podcast featured a panel discussion with four Cavendish alumnae: Aswathy Girija – Commissioning Editor at Institute of Physics Publishing, Kerstin Göpfrich

- Professor and Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Joanne Baker - Chief Opinion Editor at Nature and author of four popular science books and Emma Williams - Professional Development Coach and Businessowner.

They told host Simone Eizagirre Barker about what they learnt at the Cavendish, their natural sciences and physics background, as well as how their doctoral research in physics shaped their careers.

This episode can be found on various podcast platforms or on the People Doing Physics website.

Farewell to Val Gibson

In January we said farewell to Val Gibson, who retired as Professor of High Energy Physics and Head of the High Energy Physics Research Group at the end of 2023.

Val joined the Cavendish in 1989 and was appointed as University Lecturer and Fellow of Trinity College in 1994, Reader in 2006 and became a Professor in 2009. She has worked on the LHCb experiment since the first beam of particles were injected into the Large Hadron Collider in 2008. Val was awarded an OBE in The Queen's 2021 New Years Honours List ‘For services to Science, Women in Science and to Public Engagement’.

She has spent her career championing women in science and spearheaded the Cavendish Laboratory's success at achieving an Athena SWAN Gold award in 2014. We are immensely grateful for her successful efforts and commitment to the advancement and retention of women in science at the Cavendish and across the sector.

We send our heartfelt thanks to Val and wish her every success in her future endeavours.

Peter Norman stepping down

We also announced that Peter Norman had stepped down as our Head of Cavendish Estates, as he prepares for retirement.

Peter joined the Department in November 2008 with extensive experience in the engineering industry. Over his 16 years in the Department, first as Head of the Mechanical Workshop, then Department Superintendent and finally in his current role, Peter has made a huge impact through a sustained and sensitive campaign of development of both staffing and infrastructure.

He has worked tirelessly to improve oppportunities for our technical staff, pioneering a new technical programme and fostering grassroots talent. During this period, his leadership in large-scale construction projects, notably the Maxwell Centre, showcased his exceptional project management skills. We are fortunate that Peter has agreed to delay his well-earned retirement and remains dedicated to Cambridge Physics, redirecting his focus to oversee the completion of the Ray Dolby Centre and ensuring a seamless transition for research activities and staff.

Peter is being succeeded by Karen King who joined the Department in February as our new Head of Cavendish Estates. Karen has an extensive background in Facility Management in Public and Private sectors as well as Education. Most recently she was Senior Regional Facilities Manager for the Competition and Markets Authority in Canary Wharf, London, where she was also managing buildings in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

She brings her passion for sustainability and dedication to agile working and collaboration to her role and we are delighted to have her on board.

New Academic Appointments

We are delighted to welcome Anton Souslov and Dorian Gangloff to the Department, as our two newest academic appointments. 

Dorian Gangloff is the new Associate Professor of Quantum Technologies and Head of the Quantum Engineering Group. A Royal Society University Research Fellow, Dorian and his team are studying information scientist studying experimental and theoretical aspects of solid-state spins and photons.

Anton Souslov is our new Associate Professor of Theoretical Statistical Physics. His group is interested in modelling the mechanics of soft materials and designing new states of matter.

Both have already been hard at work since their arrival, securing fundings for two major projects:

  • Anton Souslov will be the Cambridge lead for the new UK wide Metamaterials NetworkPlus to help develop the UK’s capabilities in developing game-changing metamaterials breakthroughs.
  • Dorian Gangloff has secured funding to boost quantum networking through the MEEDGARD project, short for ‘Memory Enhanced Entanglement Distribution with Gallium ARsenide quantum Dots’. This ambitious project aims to revolutionise quantum communication networks by developing an optical interface to a long-lived quantum memory in semiconductor nanostructures, specifically quantum dots (QD). With a substantial budget of €2.1 million over three years, MEEDGARD is set to make significant strides in quantum network development. 

Mark Thomson to be the UK candidate for CERN Director-General

The UK government has announced its support for Cavendish particle physicist Mark Thomson, to be the next Director-General of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Mark is a renowned Professor of Experimental Particle Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory and a Fellow at Emmanuel College. Since 2018, he is the Executive Chair of STFC, the UK Research Council that provides funding for particle physics, astrophysics, space science and nuclear physics. 

Commenting on the news, Head of the Cavendish Laboratory Mete Atatüre said: “Mark Thomson’s candidacy for CERN’s lead role is incredibly exciting. We are truly confident in the transformative impact his leadership will have on this crucial area of research, tackling some of the most foundational scientific questions of modern times.”

Jeremy Baumberg newly appointed member of EPSRC Council

Congratulations to Jeremy Baumberg who has been recently appointed member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Council. Jeremy is the Harold Aspden Professor of Fundamental Physics at the Cavendish and is a world-recognised leader in nanoscience and nanotechnology, crossing interdisciplinary boundaries within physical sciences and engineering. Council members advise and help EPSRC to make decisions on scientific, research and innovation matters. It is fantastic to see our academics taking on such roles that help define approaches to and policies for scientific research.

National award for Oliwia Zawadzka

Many congratulations to our apprentice Oliwia Zawadzka for her recent win at the CSR Community award 2023. She received this national award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the community by raising awareness of apprenticeships and inspiring others, through her talks at the last Physics at Work event in September. The award came with an iPad and a certificate of appreciation. Well done, Oliwia!

Tyler Colenbrander wins 2024 Cambridge Climate Challenge with team ‘Benign’

Tyler Colenbrander, a physics MPhil student, was part of the team 'Benign', which won the 2024 Cambridge Climate Challenge. Their innovative business model revolves around an enzyme derived from brain cancer DNA, aiming to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions in nylon production. The team's idea stems from a decade of cancer research published in Nature's Communications Biology. Their aim is to drastically reduce the environmental impact of producing nylon for everything from stockings to swimwear. By leveraging scientific breakthroughs for environmental betterment, Benign endeavours to bridge research and business for a greener future.

Jesús Arjona Martínez amongst Forbes 30 Under 30

Jesús Arjona Martínez, a PhD student in Mete Atatüre’s research group, has been recognised as one of the

‘Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2024’ for his current research on quantum communication. The Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2024 list highlights rising stars in various industries from music and media to sport and science.

Physics PhD students rowing to victory in the 2024 Boat Race!

Many congratulations to our two PhD students, Thomas Marsh and Noam Mouelle, and the rest of the Cambridge men’s blue boat team for winning the Boat Race against Oxford. Noam, who is doing his PhD in the AMOP group, was returning after his first victory last year. Thomas, a PhD in the Sirringhaus group, was also returning after taking part in the reserve boat race (Goldie) in 2023.

New Appointments to the Professional Staff

New RDC Laboratory Manager

Emily Hogg has joined the Cavendish Laboratory as the new RDC Laboratory Manager. She will be part of the Laboratories Services team and will play a vital role in supporting research groups with their move into the new Ray Dolby Centre (RDC).

Emily brings a wealth of experience to the team, having previously worked in the Biopharma Industry as a Lab Manager and most recently as Laboratory Support Team Leader for Avantor, who provided laboratory support for AstraZeneca. In this role, she was instrumental in setting up a brand-new laboratory building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, overseeing the move of science and support services and ensuring everything was ready for live science operations.

Other appointments

Ragha Adapa - Kapitza Hub Manager
Archie Balls - Rutherford Hub Finance Assistant
Matthew Billing - Nanofabrication Facility Technician
Jiasheng Chen - AMCS-VERSMAG Instrument Scientist
Kim Dorsett - Postgraduate Administrator
Geoff Elliot - Deputy H&S Manager
Katie Fanstone - Kapitza Hub Finance Administrator
Paul Game - Department Finance Advisor
Jack Good - Nanofabrication Facility Technician
Shaoliang Guan - XPS Facility Scientist
Gil Krikler - Research Laboratory Technician
Yugen Miyazaki - Development Manager for CORDE, the Collaborative R&D Environment (previously known as National Facility for Physics)
Nora Mor - Kapitza Hub Finance Assistant
David Ward - CORDE Characterisation Manager
Mia Wootton - Research Grants Administrator