Samantha Watson

Favourite Thing: Do something that really helps people



I went to Blyth Jex School (now Sewell Park Academy) in Norwich from 1983 to 1989, then Newcastle University 1989 – 1992, and Sheffield University 1992-1993


I have a number of O’levels and A’Levels, and then a BSc and Masters degree in medical physics

Work History:

I have previously worked at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, the Cookridge Hospital in Leeds, and Newcastle General Hospital. Then I came to my current job in May 2002.

Current Job:

Senior Radiation Protection Scientist


Public Health England

About Me

A friendly, but slightly forgetful non-boffin, who doesn’t always get it right at first, but keeps on trying.

As well as being a scientist I love photography, cooking, and bellydancing. I like reading crime fiction and watching quiz shows. I live with my husband and our 9 year old daughter and we have 2 cats and 2 fish. I don’t work during the school holidays, so I get to spend plenty of time with my daughter as well as doing science stuff during term-time.

My Work

I’m a Radiation Scientist for Public Health England

Public Health England protects and improves the nation’s health and wellbeing. As part of this, my department does work to improve knowledge about protecting people from the risks of radiation, and gives out expert information and advice to the regulators, government, and public on how to keep people safe from radiation.

Most of my job is looking at what could happen if there was an accident involving radiation, how to keep people safe if an accident did occur, and how to clean up after an accident.

My Typical Day

I mostly work at a computer, reading reports, doing calculations, and writing about what I’ve found.

A lot of my work is based round looking at published information on a given subject. I may have to think about alternative ways of doing something and try to show what is the best thing to do. This may mean doing some calculations, or using a computer program. Some pieces of work involve trips out to find out about other peoples’ work or to make measurements in the environment. A big part of my work is writing about everything I’ve found out. This means writing a summary of what I’ve read, a description of any visits, measurements or calculations, a presentation of the results, and the conclusions about what it all means, with recommendations for what should be done next. All of this will then be discussed with colleagues who may suggest how the work could be improved. So while a typical day will have lots of time at the computer, there will also be some time in the library, and some time in meetings. And of course there are always emails to answer! Oh and I’ve had some great chances to travel to meetings overseas, which can be cool to do. I’ve been lucky to go to Belarus and Chernobyl, and to Slovenia, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Paris, and Berlin.

What I'd do with the money

Build on work communicating science to the public through fun activities.

As well as working for Public Health England, I am a member of the Society for Radiological Protection. One of the things I do with the Society is help at science events, such as the Big Bang Fair (

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Friendly, helpful, dedicated

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I mostly love stuff from the 1970s and 1980s, but am getting to like my daughter’s Little Mix CDs

What's your favourite food?

A good old fashioned Sunday roast!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Taking photos

What did you want to be after you left school?


Were you ever in trouble at school?

Occasionally! But I was mostly good and only had detention once, and a couple of break times writing lines.

What was your favourite subject at school?

The sciences – though not chemistry so much

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

Helped make people better when i worked as a hospital scientist

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Mr Faulkes, my physics teacher at school

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A photographer (well, I’d like to give it a try)

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

To be healthy. For me and my family to be happy. To be a better photographer.

Tell us a joke.

What is the difference between a stoat and a weasel? A weasel is weasily recognised and a stoat is stotally different!

Other stuff

Work photos:

My office space is totally boring. But here are a couple from the Big Bang Fair, and a few from when I visited Chernobyl.

myimage1 myimage2 myimage3 myimage4 myimage6