Elrina Hartman

  • PhD student
  • CDM & EQUS
  • University of Western Australia
  • Road-tripping Kalgoorlie to Perth

What do you do?

I design detectors to use in science experiments looking for dark matter.  We think it’s out there because of the way we see galaxies move in space, even though we can’t see it directly.  The trick is to find a way to interact with it here on Earth.

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always had this nagging question in the back of my mind: “How do things work, and why do they work that way?”  I started in high school to look at living systems in biology, the chemical compositions that govern those systems in chemistry, and the fundamental particles that make up those chemicals in physics.  The more I learn, the more I realise how much there is yet to discover, and the field of physics is such a vast playground to explore in.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The best part of my role is that every day is a new adventure, a different problem to solve.  Some days I am coding or running simulations, other days I am tinkering with small screws to put together a new detector.  I could never be satisfied with an office job.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying physics?

Don’t be scared of failing.  Every time you try something new, it is an opportunity to learn, whether it succeeds or not!  So long as you have the curiosity and perseverance, you can do anything.  Physics is very humbling; the greatest thing it teaches you is how little we know about the Universe.  If getting even small glimpses of insight to such a mystery fills you with wonder, then physics is for you.

What are your plans for your research?

Someday I want to visit and work with the biggest particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

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