Occupation: Professor of Physics
Research Areas: Imaging and Sensing, Conservation, Science and Art
"I’m working on the boundary between optical imaging and history… physics and history are the two things that I love."
Source: Career paths after a PhD in astronomy – Australian Academy of Science
Haida grew up in Shanghai, China but moved to Sydney, Australia to finish school. At first, she struggled to understand the Australian accent, despite speaking English. This meant that she enjoyed maths and physics classes most because the equations were universal. At university, she started a medical degree, as she thought if you got good grades that’s what you should study. She soon missed physics and maths and transferred to the physics department. She chose to do a PhD in cosmology because it combined her two passions, physics and history – looking at the creation of the Universe!
Haida studied astronomy for 12 years, moving from Australia to France where she began to learn some French. She then moved to Bristol in the UK, but found herself craving a challenge and to learn something new. So she switched careers to her other love, history. Haida applied for a job with the National Gallery, using her knowledge of making images and her basic French to work on a European project analysing paintings. She has been working in art history and conservation since – using the skills she gained during her time in astronomy.
Haida is a professor of physics at Nottingham Trent University, where she leads a research group on "Imaging and Sensing for Archaeology, Art History and Conservation". She has published almost 100 scientific papers and is an expert consultant for 11 different groups around the world!
Haida loves to travel, which she feels very lucky to have as a regular part of her job.