Nicci Potts

Favourite Thing: I love everything that I do but if I had to pick …. I can’t choose! What can I say I love all aspects of my job!



Manor High School, Liverpool ¦ King George V College, Southport. ¦ University of Leeds, Leeds. ¦ The Open University, Milton Keynes ¦


11 GCSE’s ¦ 4 A-Levels ¦ BSc Geological Sciences ¦ MSc Geochemistry

Work History:

I had a lot of jobs while at University mostly telesales. I also worked as a snowboard instructor and research assistant (looking for life on Mars – didn’t find it)

Current Job:

Research Student (PhD)


The Open University/ Vrije University Amsterdam

Me and my work

Play with rocks from the Moon!

The American space agency (NASA) brought back rocks from the Moon from their trip there in the 1960’s. Since the 1970’s we haven’t been back to the Moon so we have to use the samples to find out lots of things like how our Moon formed, does it have water, where should we land if we go back. We can also try and find out how life exists on the Earth (and no where else in the solar system) by looking at these Moon rocks!

I use a really fancy instrument that measures these rocks to tell us if the Moon has water (inside, not on the surface!).

I also do experiments which involve making rocks to make my Moon rock measurements more accurate.

My Typical Day

I don’t have a ‘typical’ day

When I running experiments my typical day will involve making tiny little capsules using a lathe (old school workshop instrument, it’s pretty cool) and arc welder, putting a powdered sample in my capsule and putting it in an instrument which heats the whole thing up to > 1300 degree C (that’s really hot) under really high pressure!


When I am looking at the results of my experiments my typical day will involve staring at a computer screen directing a probe to attack my samples and give me data 😀


When I’m not running experiments or looking at the results my typical day will involve lots of drinking tea, checking/answering emails, looking at data, making graphs, going for lunch with friends, writing up my results, reading papers, drinking more tea, reading online comics, drinking more tea, and more writing.

What I'd do with the money

Bring the Moon to the classroom!

I don’t think we are taught enough about the Moon in school and would like to go to classrooms showing how amazing our Moon is!


My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Energetic, Enthusiastic, Caring

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Snowboarding in the Alps for two years followed by working for NASA for a summer.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A vet

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes! I think my French teacher still has nightmares about me :/

What was your favourite subject at school?

Chemistry and English Literature

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

Holding the Moon (well a piece of it!)

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My Chemistry teacher at school and my A-Level Geology teacher – both great guys who made science seem fun!

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


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

I wish I was more tidy, got up earlier and didn’t get distracted so easily!

Tell us a joke.

What’s brown and sticky … a stick.

Other stuff

Work photos:

One of the main instruments I use. His name is Freddy!



Making my experimental samples



More making samples – they are tiny!



Samples after the experiment – even smaller!



What my samples look like under an instrument called a SEM – it looks at tiny tiny details of things.



My messy desk!