David Armstrong

congratulations Wei!

Favourite Thing: Experiments!



Adams’ Grammar School, Newport, Shropshire, 1994-2001


University of Oxford, 2001-2009, Materials Science

Work History:

WHSmiths, Goodrich Aerospace, Schlumberger Oil Field Services and Bouncy castle builder and tester.


University of Oxford

Current Job:

Junior Research Fellow in Materials For Fusion Reactors

Me and my work

My work is to do with understanding the properties of advanced alloys for nuclear fusion applications.

Nuclear fusion is the nuclear reaction which powers the sun and other stars, it produces little carbon emissions and less radioactive waste than normal nuclear fission. Scientists have been working for a long time to try and be able to control this type of reaction on earth. However the reactions only occur in plasmas at very high temperatures and we need advanced materials to build the reactor vessel out of. I work on tungsten alloys which have very high melting points, which will be used in the most challenging part of the reactor, called the divertor. 

My Typical Day

Everyday is different and everyday is busy

My typical day could be anything from analysing data at my desk, carrying out a new experiment in our lab, or giving a talk at a conference. Most of my work is in Oxford but some of the facilities I use are based in Paris so I spend sometime there and conferences have taken me all over the world from San Fransisco to Munich. I also teach undergraduate students courses on mechanical properties of materials and processing of advanced engineering materials.

What I'd do with the money

I’d use the money to build some new interactive experiments for school visits to our department.

Schools visit the Department of Materials where I work throughout the year, to learn more about studying materials science and how it influences lives. Students can take part in a range of experiments and hands-on tasks to learn about different materials and as a PhDstudent  I helped run a lot of these events. If I win I will use the £500 to develope new experiments, in particular ones showing how advanced materials can help, reduce CO2 emissions and reduce energy consumption.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Inquisitive, sporty, hard-working

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Foo Fighters

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Cruising down the River Nile on a 1920’s steam ship

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To be an international rugby player, to never have to mark anymore students’ work, to have a sailing boat.

What did you want to be after you left school?


Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not very often, once for arguing with my physics teacher.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Developing new micro-mechanical testing techniques as part of my PhD which are now being used to understand a large range of materials science problems.

Tell us a joke.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.