Sarah Hughes

Meet...Sarah Hughes

Astronomy and astrophysics

We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.

Name: Sarah Hughes
Job title: DPhil student

What are you currently working on?
My DPhil project is on the testing and commissioning of the WEAVE fibre positioner. Currently, I am analysing the data from recent test operations to improve the performance and accuracy of the positioner. I am also collaborating with the WEAVE-LOFAR team to maximise the number of targets they can observe during their survey.

Describe a typical day
Most mornings I will have a virtual coffee meeting with the other WEAVE members here at Oxford. This allows us to update each other on progress but it’s also still quite informal. Prior to shipping the positioner to the observatory, the rest of my day consisted of being in the lab finishing the installations. Now that it has arrived in La Palma, we are working remotely to test run the operations before the positioner is mounted onto the telescope. I spend most of my time updating results and running simulations, with breaks for nice cups of tea.

If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
I like using my days off to try to learn new things; over lockdown this turned into cooking a lot of new recipes for the first time but it has allowed me to learn other new skills as well. I picked up sewing and knitting again having learned as a teenager and I have also been trying to teach myself C++ and how to use visualisation software like Blender so that I can produce more visual simulations of my work for other people. I would then like to spend the evening catching up with friends and exploring new places around Oxford that I haven’t been to before.

What is your favourite place in Oxford?
I would say that my favourite place in Oxford is University Parks. When the weather is nice, it’s a lovely place to go for a walk and take a good book with me. In the summer they also sell ice creams right by the entrance near the physics buildings.

What discovery would you like to see in your lifetime?
I think a proven theory of quantum-gravity would be quite nice.