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Getting to know

Getting to know – Chris Harrison

22 January 2021

In this week’s blog we are introducing another one of our new lecturer’s (although he has been in the group for a while prior to this) Chris Harrison.

What is your current role? Lecturer in Magnetic Materials

What does it involve? I teach a range of modules to undergraduates and carry out research into soft magnetic materials. My current research interest is in understanding how domain structure and motion can be linked to important characteristics that will be critical to driving the electric revolution.

What are the biggest challenges? Covid-19 has created challenges in both teaching and research. Most of my research is conducted from my lab and overcoming this challenge has led me to having to think about the problems in different ways.

What is the most fun thing you and your work colleagues do? Every Friday the whole group will go for lunch together, which are a lot of fun (when they are allowed again).

Where are you from? Crowborough, Sussex, England.

How did you end up doing what you do? I did my PhD in condensed matter physics at Royal Holloway, understanding what happens to magnetic material when it is subjected to extreme pressure conditions. I then went to work for a company that produced components from soft magnetic composite materials. I moved back to academia in 2015 as a post doc at Cardiff University and have been here ever since. I got a permanent position as a lecturer in 2020.

What’s the best thing about your work? When you test a new idea you have and it leads to a new breakthrough!

What attracted you to science? I have always enjoyed chemistry and physics, they make up the building blocks from which everything is understood.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I have been a practitioner of judo and jujitsu for many years, I love watching the cricket and always enjoy the day when I get to watch Sussex play Glamorgan in Cardiff. I am also an avid board gamer.

Was there a particular moment or person that inspired you in your career path? My chemistry teacher Mr Pickles really helped me understand what it was I loved about STEM and my PhD supervisor Philipp Niklowitz who led me into this research area.

What has your job taught you? What skills have you developed? The most obvious skill this job has taught me is problem solving, which I use every day.  Another really important skill though is the ability to estimate things, people (including me) can be really bad at guessing things like probability and scales, so being able to do a quick estimate can be very valuable.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do something similar? Physics and engineering are incredibly diverse but are built on similar ideas, this gives you a great amount of flexibility. In my 3rd year at university I thought I wanted to study theoretical particle physics but now I am looking at transformers that can be the size of a house!