Haylea Purnell

  • PhD student
  • CDM
  • University of Adelaide
  • Road-tripping Brisbane to Longreach (2024)

What do you do?

My work involves learning about the smallest particles that make up the Universe!  We can speed up and collide these tiny particles to create a swarm of different objects, which we can study using machines.  This process helps us discover new particles and look at the behaviour of those we already know about.  I also work on these detection machines which are very sensitive and collect huge amounts of data on these collisions.

How did you get to where you are today?

Unlike some physicists, I wasn’t particularly interested in the subject at a young age.  Growing up, I was intrigued by how things work and why things happen in nature, but physics hadn’t really been on my radar.  This was until the subject was presented as an option for study in year 10 and my mum suggested that I might enjoy it—and she was right!  I developed a passion and connection to the subject and I wanted to learn more.  I decided to move from my home in Darwin to Adelaide to study physics at the University of Adelaide.  During my undergraduate and honours degree, I began a project working on the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, which I found to be such an enriching experience.  In 2024, I began my PhD and I’ve continued studying high-energy physics.

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