Russell Jurek

I didn't want to learn just the science that people thought would be useful in industry at the time. I wanted to learn everything.”

Why did you study Physics?

I was a poor kid from the country, and I was also the first kid in my extended family to go to university, and only the 3rd to finish high school.

I definitely wanted to do a pure science degree to get the broadest background that I could. That decision has definitely proven to be the right one today.


What was the best part of your studies?

This is a very unique job in that requires someone who is both an experienced programmer as well as a physicist with a broad theoretical background. During my Honours and Ph.D. at UQ I acquired a LOT of programming experience. At the same time, studying at UQ gave me the required theoretical background in maths, stats and physics.

UQ’s reputation has also given me an advantage in finding jobs - having a Ph.D. in physics from UQ means that I almost always make it to the interview stage of any job that I've applied for.


What kind of things do you do in your current job?

I develop cutting edge electron-ion optics simulations and software tools for the other scientists at ETP. These simulations allow ETP's R&D group to model both the travel of electrons and atomic/molecular ions, as well as what happens when they collide with various materials. These models require a combination of advanced software engineering, electro-dynamics, quantum mechanics, statistics and condensed matter physics. As part of this I maintain and develop the computational facilities (various super computers) that we use to carry out these simulations.

I also provide direct support to ETP's chief scientist. This involves a wide variety of things: meeting customers; analysing experimental & production data; assisting with product development, and creating software tools that enhance ETP's manufacturing capacity.

I enjoy doing research and inventing things that allow other people to do more in their own research. I've heard people refer to it as `enabling science'. We develop key components for the world's most widely used scientific instruments.


What advice would you give to anyone starting their career?

You will learn more about yourself and the world in your short time at university than at any other time in your life. Use this time to learn as much as you can.


Russell Jurek

Job title
Computational Physicist
ETP Ion Detect


PhD (Physics) 
Bachelor of Science (Honours Class 1) (Physics) 

Salary range

  • Minimum:   $70,000
  • Maximum:  $150,000
  • Average:     $95,000
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Study at UQ

Related study areas

Science and Mathematics