Jen Lowe

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Favourite Thing: Helping make people better by planning their cancer treatment in an organisation I believe in (the NHS).



85-88 British School of Paris (France), 88-91 Regents Park Girls School (Southampton, UK), 91-93 Taunton’s College (Southampton, UK), 93-97 University of Warwick (Coventry, UK), 97-00, San Diego State University (USA), 00-01 University of Surrey (Guildford, UK).


MPhys. Physics, M.S. Radiological Health Physics, MSc. Medical Physics, IPEM Postgraduate Diploma, State Registered Clinical Scientist.

Work History:

Circle K corner shop assistant, French and maths tutor, teaching assistant, IPEM Grade A trainee, Clinical Scientist.

Current Job:

Clinical scientist (as a radiotherapy physicist)


University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

About Me

Part-time physicist, full-time mother and wife.

I live in Southampton with my husband and kids (11 and 8). I work part-time (50% over 3 days) and the rest of time is mostly filled with managing a family. For exercise I bike to work and I go hockey training with my son. I make healthy choices most of the time and my eco-warrier within compulsively recycles and freecycles wherever possible. We have no TV by choice, but I couldn’t live without the internet. I am a Radio 4 junkie. I like going out with the physics girls. I have enjoyed lots of hiking, sports and travel. Recently I have done Go Ape and indoor skydiving. At various times I have lived in France, California (USA) and Washington DC (USA). I volunteer locally when I can squeeze it in as a STEM ambassador, with a Church youth group, and at the kids’ school PTA events.

My Work

Being a radiotherapy physicist (Band 7 Clinical Scientist) in the NHS at Southampton General Hospital.

I work at Southampton Oncology Centre in Southampton General Hospital. Radiotherapy treats cancer by zapping it with radiation to kill the cancer cells. myimage2 I am involved in planning Head and Neck IMRT treatments, total body irradiation treatments for leukaemia and prostate brachytherapy treatments. I check breast and thorax plans. I attend (operating) theatre for the prostate needle implants.

My Typical Day

Mostly sitting at one of many computers, planning or checking radiotherapy treatment plans, and writing/answering emails.

My department is very flexible (as am I) and so I have to work my hours each month and show up 3 days a week but within that I can usually arrange my hours around the school dropoffs and pickups (shared with my husband). I bike to work and use the locker/shower room provided at the hospital. Unless there is something urgent to do, I will first check my emails and calendar and then check what’s in the checking box in the planning room.

Some of the pieces of work I do take about 30 mins (checking a breast plan) and some 3 days (IMRT head and neck plans). Each patient plan is checked before it is used to treat a patient. I mostly work at computers, looking at CT images (cross sectional x-ray images) but occasionally I get to see real live patients when advising about treatment positioning or in theatre (not the head end…). Most treatments use a linear accelerator (or ‘linac’) myimage1 which is a large machine which treats cancer with electrons or photons (ionising radiation).

Space is at a premium, so in my office 4 physicists share 3 desks. myimage6 If I stand close to the window and look up high, I can see sky. We have a mini kitchen along the corridor so I can make cups of tea and warm up my lunch in the microwave.

What I'd do with the money

Buy resources to explain my job to students at local schools.

I would like to purchase some resources to help me explain my job to Primary and Secondary students. A small scale model linac myimage4 myimage5, some printed posters, and resources for a simple class radiation experiment or demonstration. I am a STEM ambassador so I would probably get some tips from the nice people at Winchester Science Centre.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Active, practical, fun.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Prodigy, AWOLNATION, Linus Loves (but also Beatles, Madonna, Queen and ABBA for a good singalong)

What's your favourite food?

Good quality chocolate

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Maybe snowboarding. Or luging in New Zealand.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I had no idea. Something STEM though. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths)

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not usually, but at Secondary School I did once get caught standing on a table in my form room (a science lab).

What was your favourite subject at school?

Science and maths because they were most interesting and I found them easiest.

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

Presented my Masters research at a conference in Denver, Colorado (USA) and enjoyed socialising in the evenings.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

No-one really, but my Secondary and College science teachers and my parents helped me end up where I am. I do remember being wowed when watching a real keyhole heart procedure (angioplasty) as part of a medical physics module as an undergraduate at university.

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

Science journalist, journal editor, plumber, popular science presenter.

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

To be a bit less grumpy. To know which smartphone to buy. To have a cat or dog that someone else took care of.

Tell us a joke.

What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

Other stuff

Work photos: