Sarah Hunak

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do is to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea, some cakes, and read a good science book.



Cobden Primary School, Farnley, Leeds, 1995; Southroyd Primary School, Pudsey, Leeds, 1996; Crawshaw High School, Pudsey, Leeds, 2003; University of Liverpool, BSc, 2007; University of Surrey, MSc, 2008


BSc in Physics and MSc in Radiation and Environmental Protection

Work History:

Graduate Trainee and then Radiological Scientist at Amec Foster Wheeler

Current Job:

Radiological Scientist


Amec Foster Wheeler

About Me

A Yorkshire geek who loves science, Italy, and good coffee.

I’m originally from Leeds, but now live and work as a Radiological Scientist on the wrong side of the Pennines in Birchwood, Warrington – between Manchester and Liverpool.

I am in love with Italy, and hope to live and work there forever one day, the main reasons being I can’t find a good coffee anywhere else, and I love pasta and ice-cream.

In my spare time I enjoy cooking (especially baking), learning new languages, and I’ve just started harmonica lessons, but at the moment I don’t think anyone would want to listen to me until I’ve had a bit more practice!

Here’s one of my geeky cake creations myimage9

I was once in an advertisement for Yorkshire Gold Tea as a real life nuclear scientist that drinks Yorkshire Gold Tea, it was a lot of fun 🙂


My Work

Observation: My job is to keep people safe from radiation

I’ve always loved science and maths so I think I’m living the dream doing the job  that I do. It lets me investigate new and exciting things every day.

I work on all aspects of radiation protection: from observing the x-ray you might have in hospital to make sure that the doctor is taking the right precautions that will keep you both safe; to looking at the effect of radiation on humans, animals and plants; to deciding what to do with nuclear waste.

Speaking of nuclear waste, I get asked a lot about how much nuclear waste we produce. Well, to put it into perspective, this is cube I’m holding is the size of one person’s share of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants for a period of 20 years. Not actually that much, right?!


My Typical Day

Think Homer Simpson…

myimage10…only kidding, but if I have my way, a typical day involves lots of cakes and doughnuts!

I don’t have a such thing as a typical day, it changes all the time. One day I could be in a field (usually when it’s chucking it down with rain knowing my luck) doing surveys and observing the effect of radiation on plants and animals (here’s a rare sunny but cold day in Poland) myimage4,

Maybe in the labs, on a nuclear power plant, or jetting off around the world – I like these days the best, especially if it’s somewhere warm and sunny!

I’m really lucky that I get to travel around the world to do my job.  My passport is full of stamps! My favourite place to work is, of course, Italy 🙂

What I'd do with the money

Funding new and exciting kit for Society of Radiological Protection schools activities

I am a member of the Society for Radiological Protection and we do a lot of work with school kids to try and show you how fun science really is and how great a future job in radiation protection could be.

We put on a yearly show for schools and attend other events like The Big Bang Fair. Here’s a link to a video of one of our explosive schools events, and more info on what we do.

If I won the money, I’d use it to fund some new and exciting pieces of kit for our lecture or demos that hopefully you guys would get to have a go with if you attended one of our events.


These are the people that I present the Society for Radiological Protection’s Schools Lecture with. We got some great feedback, including my favourite:

Why can’t all physics lessons be as good as this?

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Fun, geeky, loyal.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Pino Daniele

What's your favourite food?

Anything with pasta!

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Being the face of Yorkshire Gold Tea!

What did you want to be after you left school?

a maths teacher!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

I was pretty good. I had one detention in all the time I was at school, and I still argue that it wasn’t my fault!!

What was your favourite subject at school?

Maths and Physics

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

Travelled all over the world with my job

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My maths and physics teachers at school

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

a maths teacher!

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

1) to live and work in Italy forever, 2) to make everyone fall in love with science as much as me, 3) a lottery win would be nice :)

Tell us a joke.

Why did the scientist take out his door bell? Because he wanted to win a no-bell prize.

Other stuff

Work photos:

The photos show how varied my work can be:

In the labs, out on a nuclear site,


to hanging out with sheep in a field,


or out in sunny Italy!



Or here’s just a regular work day, hanging out with Radioactive Man 🙂