Real Scientists is in London this week with Dr Ben Britton (@bmatb), a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London. We chatted with Ben about physics, metals, and how he got to where he is today.
Welcome to Real Scientists! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into science?
Serendipity – I had opportunities to continue to do science and I took them when they came up.
What are you working on right now?
I lead the Experimental Micromechanics Group (@ExpMicroMech), where we aim to understand how microstructure impacts properties in high-value materials used in high-risk applications. We develop understanding that links mechanics to the internal structure of materials, through the development of new mechanistic understanding and characterisation tools.
Super interesting! Can you give us an example?
Metals underpin the modern world, and much like a brick wall is made of bricks, a metal is made up of multiple grains. Understanding how these grains form and their impact on properties (e.g. fracture, fatigue life, and strength) is critical for us to use them in high performance applications, such as nuclear power & aerospace.
Nuclear power is a fossil free technology which supplies 25% of electricity in Europe. We rely on metals to make this technology work. These metals are used in extreme environments, where their performance critically important. We apply similar understanding for metals used in jet engines for aerospace, as well as pipe-lines and refineries for oil and gas applications.
What do you get up to when you’re not in the lab?
I’m a trustee of Pride in STEM (@PrideinSTEM) and a member of The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEMM (TIGERS, @TIGERinSTEMM). These groups work to further equality, diversity and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine). I have given talks on being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in STEM. I also write about Open Access, Research Funding, and Peer Review.
Also, I run. I bake. I eat. I ski. I tweet.
What does a perfect day off look like for you?
A run with my gay running club (@LDNFrontrunners), followed by brunch and catching up with friends.
Ben Britton, welcome to Real Scientists!