Associate Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute
Can you tell us about your studies and your scientific field?
I studied both Physics and Chemistry for my M. Sc and hold a PhD in condensed matter physics. My scientific background is fairly broad ranging from experimental surface science to theoretical many-particle physics. Since my PhD my condensed matter scientific work has mostly been focused to strongly correlated materials which I study mainly by neutron-scattering and x-ray diffraction but I also collaborate closely with theoreticians particularly on elucidating high-temperature superconductivity.
Apart from the experimental work I enjoy connecting theory with experiment through simulations. Particularly I'm working on developing the concept and scope of virtual experiments in neutron scattering. Virtual experiments are Monte Carlo simulations of a full neutron experiment, tracing the neutrons all the way from source, through optics and sample to detector. I believe them to be highly useful for planning experiments and assisting data analysis among other things. Another important aspect is the usefulness of virtual experiments for student training by active learning, a concept which is an important part of the e-learning portal Virtual Neutrons for Teaching which I have founded and am evolving together with my workpackage team with funding through NMI3.
What´s your Neutron-scattering background?
I have mostly performed experiments (virtual and real) with single crystals on Triple Axis Spectrometers, but also do TOF spectroscopy, powder-diffraction and single-crystal Laue diffraction on a regular basis as well a few SANS experiments.
Can you describe step by step how you got to your position?
During my M.Sc. I was engaged as an A-level teacher in physics and chemistry, a job which I enjoyed a lot. However after defending my thesis I was strongly encouraged to apply for a PhD position at Risø National Laboratory (now a part of the Technical University of Denmark) which I did and got the position.
During my PhD I moved from the theoretical aspects of high-temperature superconductivity to the more practical and experimental aspects such as crystals growth, characterisation and neutron-scattering experiments. After defending my thesis I was hired immediately by Kim Lefmann as post-doc at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, a position I have enjoyed for 4.5 years. The last 1.5 years I have been the leader of WP3 (e-learning) in NMI3, an activity which is close to my heart and has spawned several other projects and applications as well as significant attention to my work at the University of Copenhagen. In May this year I was appointed associate professor and offered a position at the Niels Bohr Institute for 4 years.
Have you got any publications?
Yes – my latest is here .
What percentage of your time do you dedicate to your family/ work/ for you?
In Denmark there is a general guideline to use 8 hours a day for work, 8 for sleep and 8 for all the rest. I try to keep that balance if not every day, then at least on average basis. I think I manage to follow the guidelines at least if email reading at night and beamtimes are excluded from the work-sum.
I don't have a family of my own but if I work too much my friends sometimes pull me out of the office and cook me dinner.
Who or what is your mentor or greatest inspiration?
Both supervisors of my PhD, Kim Lefmann (Niels Bohr Institute, Univeristy of Copenhagen) and Niels Hessel Andersen (Technical University of Denmark) have been and still are great mentors as well as collaborators.
Emmanuel Farhi (Computing for Science, ILL) was one of the opponents of my PhD thesis and has been a great source of inspiration and friendship ever since. I also hold the meticulous and ground-breaking work of my other opponent Bella Lake (HZB) in high regards.
What is the most challenging thing you have faced in your career?
Suffering from chronic stress syndrome during my PhD where I could not work for several months. It was a hard lesson in listening to and taking symptoms of long-term stress seriously.