Advanced Research Computing

Dr Alastair Smith

Dr Alastair Smith

Senior Research Data Systems Engineer

ARC Research Data Group

UCL Centre for Advanced Research Computing

Joined UCL
22nd Nov 2012

Research summary

I have completed two research degrees: MSc in the nuclear physics department at York and PhD in computational materials science at UCL.

My MSc involved testing and analyzing the behavior of a set of CZT (Cadmium Zinc Telluride) detectors. The work was in anticipation of CZTs involvement in a detector system for hunting for a standard model violating process called neutrinoless double-beta decay.

My PhD research was to use computational methods to study a material of the Peroviskite class called strontium titanate. I was considering several aspects of its behavior, one of which was an examination of the oxygen and strontium migration pathways using molecular mechanical methods. The main part of the research was to use Density Functional Theory to study subtle phase transitions at low temperatures. The material is experimentally well established to exist in two crystallographic phases (cubic and tetragonal). However, the other Perovskites have lower symmetry phases in addition. My research was centered around discovering the cause of the different behavior in strontium titanate.


Currently work within RITS (Research IT Services) for Research Data Services as a Storage Engineer. As part of a small team, the job requires a jack of all trades approach to getting a high end data storage system up and running and helping our pilot users to use it in the best possible way. As we are still establishing ourselves, the pilot phase involves trying new things out finding the best ways of working. I'm generally interested in learning about and generating solutions involving cutting edge technology.

Before this position, I was completing a PhD in computational materials science (looking at crystallographic phase transitions) at UCL. My prior university experience was in physics and High Performance Computing.