Connor Macrae

Favourite Thing: I really enjoy coding and messing around with my data analysis to see just what exactly I can find out from the data I use – coding can be fun! I also really love taking part in outreach activities like this, I think everyone should see just how exciting and worthwhile science is!



Priory LSST (2003-2010) and University of York (2010-2014)


10 GCSE’s, 1 AS level (B), 3 A-levels (ABC) and first class MPhys degree

Work History:

Working as a demonstrator and marker during my PhD, as well as working in outreach activities.

Current Job:

Near the end of my first year of a PhD research course at the University of Hull.


University of Hull

Me and my work

I study the extreme environments of our sun and other stars, from spectacular solar flares and cool sunspots to shocking sun- and star-quakes.

I work in solar and stellar physics – more specifically regarding acoustic (sound) wave propagation inside stars like the Sun.  To give this field of work its full name, you could say I am a helioseismologist – but that is quite a mouthful so let’s stick with astrophysicist!  We think of the Sun as a constant unchanging beacon of light in the sky – but in reality it is constantly oscillating (imagine if the whole Earth’s surface was always shaking like an earthquake, woah!).  Massive explosions on the Sun called Solar Flares often occur, blasting a huge amount of energy out into space.  Some of this energy is directed inwards, causing a disturbance on the Sun’s surface that we call a sun-quake.  I work to further understand how these sun-quakes occur, as well as look into if their presence can be seen on other stars through telescopes like kepler.

My Typical Day

I could be anywhere on a conference! but a typical day involves a lot of computer work…

Depending on what is happening I may be working at my office or half way across the country at a conference!  Going on a typical day, I start with a strong cup of coffee and bit of TV (unfortunately there is nothing on but the news when I wake up!).  At around 9am I arrive at the university I work at by bike.  I like to cycle in partly for the exercise, but mostly because it wakes me up!  I’ll likely have a day ahead of me working in my office on my computer.  I will likely spend a lot of time working on some code or running it on our universities super-computer – and yes, I might be sat on Facebook when waiting at times…  Come lunch time I like a good productivity kick so I settle for a refreshing Costa.  This is a good time to catch up with my fellow office sharing researchers.  Afternoons can be quite similar, working with the results of my codes and analysing solar and stellar data.  To keep me working in the afternoons I like to plug in my headphones and blast away some music – sometimes I find myself embarrassingly tapping or humming along!  Depending on my workload, I head home about 5-6pm.  My evenings may be spent at a pub quiz, playing a video game or in front of the TV with my partner and two guinea pigs!

What I'd do with the money

Make fluid dance! The money could either go towards boosting the new astrophysics groups outreach activities or going crazy and buying the equipment to make non-newtonian fluid dance to show of waveforms and interference.

If I am lucky enough to earn your votes and win the outreach prize on offer, I have two possible choices for how to use it.  Firstly, being at a university with a very new astrophysics group, some of the money would be great to help out the astrophysics outreach program we already offer.

Secondly (and preferably) however, I could put together a new practical to show off during outreach events.  Of interest to me would be deriving a way to show waveforms and interference patterns.  A great way to do this is placing powders or non-newtonian fluids on a speaker cone (you can look up a load of cool videos of this on YouTube already, and may have seen it on the big bang theory).  Constructive interference causes non-newtonian fluids to solidify whilst destructive interference allows it to return back to liquid form.  With the right beats played through the speaker system the fluid can be made to produce a standing wave pattern or dance high into the air!  This can be used as a fun practical for younger children, or more advanced as a means to demonstrate standing wave patterns and interference to older students and the public.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Geeky, Optimistic and techy

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What's your favourite food?

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Visited CERN in Switzerland

What did you want to be after you left school?

I honestly did not know!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I sometimes found myself being old off but not very often

What was your favourite subject at school?

Close between Physics and History

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

So far visiting my first conference was quite an experience!

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Prof. Brian Cox was a big influence on me to push me into astrophysics

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

It is not a career, but I love to make Tron outfits for a living!

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

More wishes! But seriously, I’d wish for more time in the day, to win the lottery and to get to be an extra in Game of Thrones!

Tell us a joke.

I’m reading a great book on anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.

Other stuff

Work photos: