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Dr Darren Groombridge discusses challenges and advice for the nuclear physics industry

BSc (Hons) Astrophysics, 1997

A career encompassing a doctorate, work in the nuclear industry and a stint applying his knowledge in cancer research and drug development all began at UCLan for Dr. Darren Groombridge.


Having considered several universities Darren settled on UCLan’s BSc (Hons) Astrophysics degree and he is confident it set him on the road to success. “I chose the course for two reasons. Firstly the degree programme was unique in terms of its structure and course content. Secondly after attending the Open Day, the staff’s commitment to quality teaching quickly became apparent. I was sold.”

After graduating in 1997, with memories of “a fantastic course and a great social life,” Darren completed a MSc in Applied Radiation Physics at the University of Birmingham, followed by a PhD in Experimental Nuclear Physics at the University of Edinburgh. A stint as a postdoctoral researcher followed before Darren left academia and took his skills into industry.

“The main challenges of moving into industry were not having the same intellectual freedom and flexibility as I had enjoyed in academia. However my academic background furnished me with transferable skills such as the ability to learn quickly, time management and teamwork. As important as the academic work you do at university is, picking up these transferable skills is another massive advantage to coming to university.”

Darren has enjoyed a varied and fulfilling career since making the switch from academia to industry, commenting: “It has always been of paramount importance to me to use my knowledge to benefit society and help people.

Therefore, I focused my career in applied nuclear physics and I worked in areas from drug development and cancer research to astrophysics. Areas where applying my knowledge could really make a difference”.

Over the last 10 years Darren has worked in the nuclear industry and currently works as a Principal Consultant at Safety and Reliability Engineering Limited, where he supports clients in the nuclear industry. He has been involved in working on Nuclear New Build projects in the UK (Hinkley Point C and Wylfa Newydd) and in France (ITER).

Reflecting upon his career and degree course, Darren said: “UCLan gave me the firm foundation of knowledge I needed to develop my career. I’m 100% certain I would not be where I am today without the quality of teaching, commitment and dedication from staff. Astrophysics is a fantastic degree course taught by some of the best lecturers I have had the privilege to know.”

TOP TIP FOR UNDERGRADUATES: Go for it and take the opportunity to do a degree. You never know where it will take you and you will learn important academic and life skills that will help you in any pursuit you choose, long after graduation.