Dr Helen Heath
Dr Helen Heath has been with the University of Bristol for almost 30 years. She joined the School of Physics in 1983 as a PhD student, leaving to spend a couple of years in Canada before returning to Bristol and staying ever since.
She has been a passionate proponent of female physicists from the outset: “When I first started as a post doc, Mary Hill, who was at that time the only female member of the teaching staff was organising a ‘Think about Physics’ course each year. Every year we had a total of 200 girls attending two one day events – all organised and run by the female staff and students. I started helping out and ended up running the days for over ten years.”
Dr Heath lectures to first and second year undergraduate students on Relativity and Nuclear and Particle Physics. She herself was motivated to take up science because of “a great physics teacher” whose encouragement helped her earn her first school science prize, focusing on particle physics.
“That’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” she says.
Dr Heath runs an optional first year unit called Communicating Science, which gives students hands-on experience of promoting science at science fairs and to school pupils. As part of her previous role as Director of Studies in the School of Physics she was involved in developing a Physics Education unit, which places students in schools in their final year. Her work in this area earned her the Faculty Teaching Prize in 2008.
Dr Heath’s research is in the area of High Energy Particle Physics. She has worked for about 20 years on the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment at the Large Hadron Colllider, one of the two experiments which discovered the Higgs Boson. She’s also involved in another project at CERN looking at the very rare decays of strange particles.
“When I’m not at work I spend much of my time dancing – particularly Latin American and ballroom. I’m also involved in performing and choreographing amateur pantomimes - something my three children dragged me into some years ago.”