“My passion for understanding how the world works has been with me as long as I can remember. My love for space science is more recent. After completing my degree in physics with astrophysics at the University of Sussex I moved to UCL to study for a PhD in solar physics. I had been inspired to learn more about our local star after an undergraduate observing trip to the Crimea where I was able to use a solar telescope. I haven’t looked back since. After a few years away from research following my PhD working on outreach projects like the Faulkes Telescope Project I was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and came back to solar physics at UCL. I was then awarded a Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust followed by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.
At UCL we build instruments that are flown onboard international space missions and with that comes the responsibility to operate the instruments and ensure that they are getting the data that we need. My first experience of operations was at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where I would go and take control of the CDS instrument that’s onboard the SOHO spacecraft. Once the Japanese Hinode launched, our involvement meant that I then started to do operations for the EIS instrument. First of all this meant travelling to Japan but later the system was set up so that we could carry out all the tasks remotely. Mission control for me became my front room! The solar latest solar mission that my department is involved with is the European Space Agency Solar Orbiter mission, that launched in February 2020. In recent years I have been working on a European Space Agency mission concept for a space weather satellite, called Lagrange. This spacecraft is due to launch in the late 2020s and will provide us with advanced warning of space weather conditions at Earth.
For me, carrying out research and discussing this research and the latest space science results go hand-in-hand. This has led me to organise local science festivals, hold open days, work with school students and adult learners and in TV and radio. In 2009 I was the recipient of the Royal Society’s Kohn Award for excellence in public engagement with science and in 2017 I was awarded the Institute of Physics’ Lise Meitner Medal and Prize for distinguished contributions to public outreach. I am the Chief Stargazer at the Society for Popular Astronomy, co-Chair of Astrofest, Chair of Governors at the UCL Academy and am a member of the Advisory Board for the Science Museum.”
You can also read an interview with Lucie on the UCL website.