Jaclyn Bell

Well done Ollie - knew you would win! Thanks for all your questions, I've loved taking part in this :)



[primary school] Northcote Primary School (1992-2000), [secondary school and sixth form college] Alsop High School (2000-2007), [undergraduate degree] The University of Liverpool (2007-2010), [masters degree] The University of Liverpool (2010-2011), [PhD] The University of Liverpool (2011-present)


BSc Mathematical Sciences, MSc Mathematical Sciences, currently doing a PhD in Theoretical Physics

Work History:

Liverpool Town Hall, Liverpool football club, St Georges Hall, Odeon cinemas, youth worker at Liverpool City Council, MPAC and Walton Youth Project, teaching assistant and student support worker at The University of Liverpool

Current Job:

PhD student in Theoretical Physics, youth worker at Walton Youth Project, student support worker and teaching assistant at The University of Liverpool


The University of Liverpool, Walton Youth Project

Me and my work

I’m a Theoretical Physicist – I’m really lucky because in my job I get to learn all about how tiny particles, which make up everything we see around us, can smash together at really high energies – hopefully giving us new stuff that we can use to make a model which describes how our universe works.

My Typical Day

I spend most days working at my desk running calculations on my laptop which use lots of maths and programming skills. Sometimes I get a bit stuck and can’t get the computer to do what I want it to do but thats why it’s called research – you are trying new things all the time to get brand new results to calculations which no one has worked out before

What I'd do with the money

I would buy Lego Mindstorms kits and a few Raspberry Pi’s to take into local schools and community groups and run coding clubs to get more young people, especially girls, involved programming

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

fun, outgoing, enthusiastic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Ed Sheeran or Sia

What's your favourite food?

hmmmm I think it would definitely have to be chocolate – I don’t think I could survive without it!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I am a cheerleader at my university and even though it is hard work it is so much fun performing at national competitions – it really is like the Bring It On films!

What did you want to be after you left school?

I always wanted to become a teacher and even used to play school with my little brother when I got home from school haha

Were you ever in trouble at school?

a few times… but mostly just because I couldn’t stop giggling

What was your favourite subject at school?


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

By working with STFC I have been able to get involved in a lot of public engagement activities like the Explore Your Universe project and StarLab, meeting families, children and teenagers and talking to them about my research and doing science demos. My favourite most recently was judging a Lego League competition with IET at Daresbury Lab and meeting lots of keen young scientists and seeing their amazing robot designs!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

It was only in the last 5 years or so that I was really inspired to become a scientist – I used to hate science at school and it was one of my weakest subjects! When I was doing my degree in mathematics I really enjoyed the theoretical physics modules and thats how I got in to particle physics. I also really enjoy watching programs like BBC Horizon, Dara O’Briains Science Club, Wonders of the Solar System and Bang! Goes the Theory just to name a few, and so I suppose those shows and their presenters inspired me too!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I work a couple of hours a week in the youth club near where I live and so if I didn’t do science as my main job I think I would go into youth work full time… but maybe sneak in a few science activities every now and again ;) If I could be anything in the world I would love to be an astronaut!

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

My first wish would be to become a really good science communicator and appear on a BBC Horizon documentary or popular science programme. My second wish, a bit different, would be to win a place to compete at the European cheerleading championships in Croatia this year, and thirdly… I would wish to have enough cash to travel the world

Tell us a joke.

I remember in school our science teacher told us this joke: “What’s red and invisible?… No tomatoes” – its probably the worst joke ever but it made me giggle and still does

Other stuff

Work photos:

This is my side of the office which I share with another PhD student, as you can see I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last 4 years!


My desk is where most of my calculations are done. I run calculations on my computer which can take a few hours or even a few weeks to complete and while the computer is running in the background I read up on different techniques and current research on the subject which I could maybe apply to my work. I have a lot of outreach materials to hand, on and around my desk, and gifts that friends and past students have given me over the years live here on my desk to cheer me up when my research isn’t quite working out the way I want it to – it’s always tough when you hit a brick wall but you just have to tell yourself “if it was that easy someone would have done it already!”