I joined the Distributed Computing Infrastructure Group within STFC's Scientific Computing Department in April 2021, and I am just coming to the end of my first year on the PhD conversion scheme. However prior to starting in this role I had very little experience with computing as the majority of my background was physics based. I graduated my Masters degree in Physics with Planetary and Space Physics from Aberystwyth University in 2015, and continued at Aberystwyth to do a PhD in planetary science. The focus of my PhD was the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) on board the BepiColombo satellite, where I modelled the MIXS detector in IDL and investigated the limits of what would be observable during its limited time at Mercury. In between finishing my PhD and starting at STFC, I also spent a short period as a Science Technician in a secondary school, which whilst being a lot of fun I wanted to change to a career that utilized my PhD more.
Since starting in my current role within DCIG I have had the opportunity to become involved with a number of different projects and tasks, which as this is a new field for me has given me a chance to try out different aspects of the job and explore areas that I am interested in further. Currently I am the deputy service manager of the file transfer service (FTS), which moves bulk data between different storage endpoints on the global computing grid used by the Large Hadron Collider.
Additionally I have also been involved with some development work for both the configuration management database GOCDB, and the accounting repository APEL. Despite my PhD involving some programming and computational modelling, the context of what was required for that project was very different to my current role. As a result, there was initially quite a steep learning curve, which at times could feel overwhelming! However there was a lot of support from others within the group and always someone to ask for help, so despite spending most of this first year working from home I never felt like I was stuck on my own. There have also been numerous training opportunities to bring me up to speed with the skills I need for the role, including both technical and project management skills. In addition to my main responsibilities I've also been able to get involved in SCD's public engagement activities, which was the main aspect of my previous role as a science technician that I missed!
Overall, I am enjoying my role at STFC and have found the making the change to a more computing focussed position challenging but very rewarding. I have learned a lot already in quite a short space of time and have had numerous opportunities to develop within the role, as well as apply a lot of the skills I gained during the PhD to this new area of work.