Raghda Abdel Khaleq

  • PhD student
  • CDM
  • Australian National University
  • Road-tripping Canberra to Adelaide

What do you do?

I work on research at the intersection of dark matter and nuclear physics. I specifically look at how the nuclear model we choose affects the scattering of a dark matter particle off the nucleus. On a day-to-day basis, I might talk to my supervisors or colleagues about the work, read up on other relevant and important papers, spend time doing the research, and occasionally get involved with teaching and outreach activities.

How did you get where you are today?

I remember enjoying and being good at science in early high school, but it wasn’t until mid-high school that I was introduced to physics, which I became very interested in. I then did my year 10 work experience at Sydney Observatory, which consolidated by interest in physics, and I remember thinking “I want to work here one day” (fun fact: I ended up being a tour guide at Sydney Observatory some years later—turns out dreams DO come true). After that I was pretty set on physics, and my high-school physics teacher was really great at encouraging all my inquisitive questions and curiosity.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying science?

Follow your passions, set goals, work hard, and find people who will support you in getting to where you want in your life and career. Science is pretty broad—there are so many fields and subfields, and lots of different kinds of people working in it, and you can find your place in it too!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love art, and I actually have a painting degree in addition to my physics one. I spend some of my time working on that, and specifically I’ve been looking into ways of combining art and science (called SciArt), which can be both challenging and fun!

Which three people (living or dead) would you invite to dinner?

This is a really tough question actually, there are so many people I’d love to have a chat with to learn more about their perspectives and views. If I had to narrow it down, I’d pick:

  • Marie Curie: this is a no-brainer, the lady was super cool and won two Noble Prizes!
  • M. C. Escher: he was a Dutch artist I studied about in high school, who made mathematically inspired works—he was one of my artistic idols for a long time!
  • Ryoji Ikeda: a Japanese artist who is currently one of my artistic inspirations—he has created works focused on, and derived from, physics and science ideas.

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