BSc Applied Physics with Microcomputing, Diplom Physik
Dr. rer. Nat. (German equivalent of a physics PhD)
Andreas is trying to detect the tiny vibrations in space-time caused by cosmic explosions and colliding black holes.
Gravitational wave research is a new field, but it’s one that Andreas has already been able to make his mark on. ‘I am helping to improve the laser optics of the km-size laser antennas that are designed to catch and measure the gravitational waves caused by colliding black holes and exploding stars. Measuring these vibrations in space-time is very, very difficult and we’ve not yet succeeded, so I am trying to make our detectors even more sensitive. It’s a very exciting job because my ideas directly influence how we build the antennas.’
While Andreas enjoys working on the technical puzzles thrown up by gravitational wave detection, it was the people involved in it who first attracted him as a postgraduate student. ‘I chose gravitational waves because that research group in my university was the most fun to work with. It turns out, fortunately, that it is also a field where it is relatively easy to get involved with the key people and have a real impact internationally.’
Day to day life has remained just as rewarding for Andreas throughout his career. ‘It’s fun! I like to work with other people. I like to learn new things every day and I enjoy the freedom of leading my own research activity. I write a lot of research papers but I believe that my most important contribution has been, together with my colleagues, creating a very productive and happy research group for young researchers and students in Birmingham.’
Andreas’ career has taken him to many different countries, from his postgraduate work on the GEO600 project in Hanover, to the Virgo detector in Italy and now as a university lecturer and researcher in the UK. During this time, Andreas has seen the field grow from its humble beginnings to the very large international collaborations in existence today. But the best is yet to come. ‘The best times for our research field are still ahead and the excitement will last for many years!’
You can find more information about careers in physics by visiting www.physics.org