Guest Voice. Imagination: Quantum Physicist’s View

Trying something new, imagining a new future for yourself are part of any successful career pivot.

Being able to do this requires the help of a very special ally which, for many adults, is a forgotten friend. I’m talking about your imagination.

Blessed to know many creative, ingenious and imaginative souls I decided to turned to people at different stages of life. The first is featured in this post; the second in tomorrow’s.

Without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to…

… Daisy Shearer

About Daisy: I’m a physics PhD candidate working in the field of quantum technology. I’m also a keen science communicator and advocate for accessibility in STEM, focusing on awareness around disability inclusion.

Elaine… We’ve known each other for a couple years now and you obviously have a creative approach to life and your research. Please could you share with us how you feed your imagination. What helps you keep it fresh and alive?

Daisy… There are so many places I gather inspiration which helps spark my imagination. First would have to be my own research and the work of others in my field.

When I’m reading a newly published paper that’s related to my work, new ideas pop into my head all the time. I have an approach where I like to gather lots of perspectives and concepts and try and find connections and new ideas from these which nobody else has yet explored.

I also find that just being in my lab helps fuel my imagination.

It’s a very sensory experience for me so when I feel I’m low on creative energy I find that spending time doing something physical in the lab can get my brain into that place where my imagination can run wild.

Sometimes the inspiring space is my garden or going on a long walk in nature—it doesn’t have to be the lab.

Outside of the academic sphere, my imagination is ignited through observing amazing things that others are doing, particularly online.

This is how I’ve come to realise that the career I want to pursue (for now) isn’t exactly what I first thought it would be but rather something that’s a bit of a mixture of things that make me excited!

In the past year I’ve shifted from aspiring to be a tenured academic to wanting to forge my own path as an industry-based researcher who does science writing and communication as a freelancer on the side.

I would never have reached this conclusion without seeing examples of different career options for scientists like me and getting excited about the work that people are doing. This has led to me spending more time writing about science and inclusion topics online which has opened doors for me.

Elaine… When you visit your Instagram feed it shows how well you are able to express yourself visually. Do you have an image or photo of something which recently sparked your imagination?

Daisy… Yes, I do. It’s me in the lab.

Elaine… What a great photo! Could you tell us why and how it sparked your imagination? And, if possible, where it led you.

Being in the lab helps me think freely as I’m going about doing my work. I think the repetitive, familiar protocols that I carry out in the lab and the sensory environment itself helps to ground me.

It’s also been a nice change of scenery and I’ve done some kinetic-based work which I have missed during lockdown.

Since I had a few days in the lab, I’ve gathered new data as well as finding renewed motivation for my other work like running simulations, data analysis, writing and my science communication!

Elaine… The world of science and research is always evolving so you too have to be constantly evolving and learning. Please could you share with us something you have learnt in the last 12 months which helped you change perspective. Why did it help you?

Daisy… I’ve learnt a lot about managing my energy. I’m autistic so have to carefully consider my time and energy. One positive consequence of lockdown is that I can work from home more.

Before, I had a reasonable adjustment to work from home once a week, but I always felt a bit guilty despite being more productive.

Now I’m fully embracing the fact that, for office-based work, I just suit the home environment better—it’s a more controllable environment with better access to sensory aids when needed. I’m embracing how I function and showing that there are different ways of working.

My great thanks go to Daisy. Brilliant! If you’d like to connect or start a conversation, you’ll find her here…

Twitter: @QuantumDaisy
Instagram: @notesfromthephysicslab

Header image courtesy of Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash

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