Meet...Collette Pakuza

29 October 2020

Headshot Collette Pakuza

Name: Collette Pakuza
Job title: Particle accelerator physics DPhil student

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a novel beam position monitor based on Cherenkov diffraction radiation for operation at the AWAKE experiment, the world’s first proton-driven plasma Wakefield acceleration experiment, located at CERN. Currently, I am using numerical and analytical techniques to develop the various components of the ChDR BPM system. A first prototype is under construction with plans for tests in the coming year at both the CLEAR test facility and AWAKE experiment which I am very much looking forward to. I am also involved with outreach activities for the Department of Physics YouTube channel.

Describe a typical day
The numerical simulations I run are quite computationally heavy so I would usually let them run overnight and wake up early to check them. Then I might write a couple of emails to my supervisors to ask questions and update them on my progress. For the rest of the day, I would read papers, continue with numerical and analytical studies, and attend any meetings I might have. Unfortunately, given the current COVID situation, I am unable to join the team at CERN so I try to attend as many virtual meetings as possible to stay connected with everyone while working from home.

If you had an entire day at your disposal, what would be your ideal way to spend it?
My family are scattered all over the world so my ideal day would be to spend it with my entire family all in one place.

What is your favourite place in Oxford?
This is a hard question as I think Oxford is full of beautiful places, especially all the colleges, the Bodleian library, and Radcliffe Camera, but I remember last autumn when my college held a BBQ at our college boathouse on the Isis and you could really enjoy the pleasures of the countryside while being in a city. This is probably my favourite place in Oxford.

Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing?
I always wanted to either contribute something to the community through science or bring happiness to people through entertainment. As a child, I performed in many musicals at my local theatre, sang in the choir at my local church and sang Christmas carols at residential homes. So, if I wasn’t doing research, I would probably do something in the performing arts.