Jeremy Bourhill

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • CDM & EQUS
  • University of Western Australia
  • Road-tripping Kalgoorlie to Perth

What do you do?

I conduct science experiments using special fridges that are capable of cooling stuff down to the lowest temperatures on the planet.  We do this to make all the atoms in our experiments very cold, which makes them stop moving around and very quiet.  This allows us to observe the quantum mechanical behaviour inside the experiments.  Quantum mechanics describes how everything behaves at the very, very small scale, where atoms and electrons start to do some very strange things!

How did you get to where you are today?

In high school I enjoyed science and maths so made sure to take the highest maths streams as well as physics and chemistry.  I started studying at university not knowing whether I wanted to do chemistry or physics, but after taking both courses in my first year I decided to focus on physics.  During my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to be able to do some work experience in what would later become the UWA EQUS lab, and my current workplace!  After graduating, I completed my doctorate with this same group, after which I worked in France and collaborated with researchers all over the world, before returning to the UWA group.

What’s the best thing about your job?

As a scientist your job is about answering big questions, which require a lot of work to answer—sometimes years of work!  This means every day you’re building on what you did the previous weeks and months.  No week is ever the same, and everything builds on top of what came before it, which gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment and ensures the job never gets boring.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying physics?

Always ask lots of questions!  You should never be afraid to ask a question: you’ll either learn something new, or figure out a new direction to investigate.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy watching Australian Rules Football, playing board games and surfing.

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