What is your position or role in the DESI project?
I am the manager of the DESI focal plane system, consisting of 5000 fiber-positioning robots and 10 cameras for guiding and focusing the telescope.
Where were you born?
I was born in Cambridge, England, and spent my early years in Bristol, Leeds and London, all in the UK, as well as Iran and Mexico. I went to high school and university in Toronto, Canada.
Where do you live now?
I came to California for graduate school, spent five years in France at CERN, then returned to California for a postdoc and faculty position. I now live in Irvine, which is just south of Los Angeles.
What do you do as part of DESI?
Each morning, I check on the 5000 robots to look for any problems during the night. The focal plane is a unique and central part of the DESI instrument, so I work on outreach materials to share the excitement with my collaborators and the public, including a poster, animations and 3D-printed models. I also work with my students at UC Irvine to better understand our quasar sample and Lyman-alpha forest absorption, and look for novel ways to apply machine learning methods.
What is the most interesting or exciting thing about your job?
A large survey like DESI offers such a great variety of interesting topics to work on, from instrumentation and operations to simulation and cosmological inference. I am excited to learn new skills every day, working with my students, in diverse areas such as electronics, statistics, machine learning, and visualization.
Any advice for an aspiring scientist?
Doing science isn’t only about publishing papers. Take advantage of the many opportunities to learn new skills and don’t be afraid to explore new avenues and change directions a few times in your career.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy cooking and eating good food, building things, taking photos, and being active (especially running, soccer, and pickleball).
If you weren’t a scientist, what would be your dream job?
A sheep farmer in the Shetland Islands.
What excites/interests you most about DESI?
My collaborators. Although the DESI collaboration probably feels large to many of us, it is one of the smaller groups I have worked with, and we have an amazing team.