Interview with STFC Visiting Scientist Roy Wastie
18 Apr 2024






STFC Visiting Scientist Roy Wastie
​Technology is one of the largest departments here at STFC, spanning two of the organisation’s three biggest sites and comprising over 280 staff members, including scientists, engineers, technicians, administrative staff and more. In addition to our full-time staff members, we also host a variety of researchers including visiting scientists.

The department’s visiting scientist programme is a great way for our permanent staff members to collaborate with scientists, engineers, and academics from other institutions. Not only does the programme benefit our staff,  allowing them to work closely with their external collaborators, but it also allows visitors to expand their network, learn more about our department’s skillset, and experience new ways of working. 

We sat down with Roy Wastie, a Senior Electronics Engineer at Oxford University, to discuss his experience of working as a visiting scientist at Technology. Read our interview below.

What is your role at STFC?

In December 2023, I was invited to join STFC as a visiting scientist from the University of Oxford’s Physics Department. Since then, I have been working with the Technology Department’s CMOS Sensor Design team at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as a part of the ePIC (Electron-Proton/Ion Collider) collaboration.

What are your responsibilities at the University of Oxford?

A wide variety of things! Put simply, I am responsible for supporting various international physics experiments. The ePIC collaboration, a part of the Electron-Ion Collider project, is just one of these experiments. 

I have worked on the Large Hadron Collider’s ATLAS Semiconductor Tracker (SCT) and, more recently, have been looking after the power supply for the experiment’s Pixel Detector. I have also developed a robot for testing flex circuits for the ATLAS Strip Detector System, something that I have helped to replicate three times for other international physics facilities.

Such varied work has helped me to develop (or redevelop) skills that I haven’t used for a long time, which can be quite challenging. 

What is your professional and educational background?

I started working in physics from the bottom and worked my way upwards. Straight after completing my O levels, I began an electronics apprenticeship at the University of Oxford’s Physics Department and have continued to work here ever since! 

As a student I excelled in spatial awareness, thinking in three dimensions and similar skills but struggled in English. This was before my dyslexia diagnosis a few years ago. All it means is that I think differently to my colleagues – I find ways to work around it.

I also completed an HNC (Higher National Certificate) at the Oxford Polytechnic – which later became Oxford Brookes University.

Why did you join STFC as a visiting scientist?

Joining Technology as a visiting scientist was borne of the need to collaborate on the ePic project as an extension of my work for the University of Oxford. I was invited to RAL to work more closely with STFC colleagues. I have been working with the CMOS Sensor Design team since late 2023 and will continue to collaborate with them until this portion of the project is finished.

Although I joined Technology to work on ePIC specifically, my time as a visiting scientist has allowed me to experience something new. Sometimes it is good to make a change, come to a different environment, and see how things are run somewhere else.

I also knew some of Technology’s microelectronics staff from previous projects such as the staff at the Microelectronics Support Centre and the ASIC Design team.

What has your experience been so far? What have you enjoyed the most?

Everybody at STFC and in Technology has made me feel very welcome. This has been helpful not just for working on the project but getting to experience life at RAL. I have enjoyed trying the cakes which seem to appear every so often and getting to know my new colleagues – who have invited me to coffee and got to know me outside of our work on ePIC. 

It has been a very positive work environment, especially in comparison to the isolation caused by COVID. I have really enjoyed hearing about the different people who work in Technology and their various areas of expertise.

What would you say to someone considering being a visiting scientist?

I would say go for it! Going somewhere else and trying something new is always a good thing. Especially for people like me who might have done the same thing for a very long time. Learning how to work in a new team can teach you lots of things about the different ways of working.

And finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

I like cycling and walking – mainly with my wife. I also like cooking. I am a major foodie and probably like Mexican food the most.​

​Written by Cat Lewin-Williams and Roy Wastie.