As part of our Future First project, we hosted our alumni member and top Physicist David Barney on Wednesday 19th March. David works at the CERN Institute in Switzerland.
David moved to King's Lynn at the age of ten and attended Gaywood Park High School, as it was then known. Where he studied for his O Levels, followed by A levels. He did rather poorly in his A levels, which haunts him to this day! Nevertheless, David went on to Imperial College in London to study Physics at BSc and got a 1st-class degree, after taking a year out to work for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, near Oxford. He stayed on at Imperial to do a PhD in High Energy Physics, graduating in 1993.
After working for Imperial for a year he was employed as a CERN Fellow, a 2-year position and has been there ever since, as a permanent member of the CERN staff.
Currently Project Manager for a part of an experiment called "CMS" that was one of the experiments that found evidence for the Higgs boson back in July 2012. The part he is responsible for, called the Electromagnetic Calorimeter, cost about £100m to build and David has a team of about 300 scientists and engineers from all over the world working for him.
David enjoyed a tour of the academy building with Kings Lynn Academy Principal Craig Morrison, before he delivered an assembly to Year 10 and 11 students, where he talked about what he does at CERN and what it was like working as part of the team that found evidence for the Higgs boson July 2012. He then conducted a Question and Answer session with Year 10 and 11 Science students where he gave students advice about showing initiative and how his persistence paid off after writing several times to ask for a placement at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment on his gap year before completing his PhD in Physics.
David talked about his time at Gaywood Park High School, and the teachers he most remembers from when he was a student here, particularly in English and Science. His other message to students was never to get complacent about what they need to achieve in life. David spoke about the range of roles at CERN; including lawyers and film makers which identified with the career aspirations of some of students attending the Q&A session.
Michael Duleba, Year 11 student said ‘’the experience of meeting a former Gaywood Park High School student who has achieved so much was great. It helped me to decide what I want to do later in life and how I can achieve it’’
Adam Panter, Year 11 student said ‘’ It was good because it was nice to have something different happening in school and he also inspired me to just go for whatever you want to do in life’’