We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.
Name: Dr Archie Bott
Job title: UKRI Future Leaders Fellow (FLF)
What are you currently working on?
I am currently focused on realising my FLF programme, the primary goal of which is to characterise systematically the anomalous material properties of magnetised, weakly collisional plasmas. This extreme type of plasma is quite unlike the plasma and gas usually found in terrestrial contexts because of its complicated microphysics, and so classical plasma models are typically inadequate. Constructing new models should help address several long-standing astrophysical puzzles, refine interpretations of astronomical observations, and aid efforts to realise laser-fusion power. Beyond that, my research interests include magnetised plasma dynamics, plasma turbulence and plasma dynamo processes. I also spend a lot of time working on so-called 'laboratory astrophysics’ experiments, which use the world’s most energetic lasers to investigate exotic physics processes that arise in astrophysical systems such as supernovae or the intracluster medium of galaxy clusters.
Describe a typical day
I like to start my mornings with a run (usually along the Thames), followed by a black coffee – it’s a combination that I find sets me up particularly well for the rest of the day. I then have a 15-minute commute by bike to my office in the Clarendon Laboratory. Most of my time during the day itself is spent working through my to-do list, the majority of which currently consists of drafting papers and handling administrative responsibilities related to establishing a new research team. I do try, though, to carve out some time each day for reading a new paper, pursuing a new idea, or meeting with students, postdocs or professors with whom I’m collaborating: for me, these are the best parts of being an academic researcher! In the evenings, I unwind by reading a novel, practising the piano, or playing card games with my fiancé.
If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
I would allow myself a leisurely morning, taking the opportunity to do a long meditation. Then, assuming the weather was up for it, I would go on a long walk in one of the many beautiful woodlands surrounding Oxford – Abraham Wood near Boars Hill is particularly lovely right now with its flowering bluebells. In the evening, I would invite friends around for an indulgent supper with cocktails. One of my current preoccupations is perfecting certain cocktail recipes, so I very much appreciate getting feedback about my latest attempts!
What is your favourite place in Oxford?
It may not be as beautiful as the historic centre, but my favourite part of Oxford has to be the Cowley Road and the surrounding area. I love to eat out, and I think there’s no place better to find good food in Oxford: highlights include Spanish tapas at Arbequina, delicious flatbreads at Za’atar Bake, and freshly-baked pizzas at Halley’s Café. The coffee at Peloton Espresso is also not to be missed. Plus, it’s not far to walk to South Park, which has beautiful views of the city.
Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing?
I would be a classical singer! I have been singing since I was a child, and some of my most joyful moments have been performing on the stage: concerts as an undergraduate in the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, or as a DPhil student with Schola Cantorum.