Dr Patricia M Lewis PhD Nuclear Physics:
My mother is amazing. We met when I was 3 years old living in the Missionaries of Charity Orphanage in Kolkata, India. What would we do without our mother’s eh? Without my mum, my world and life would be far less stable and happy. My little sister and mum live in Switzerland which means that I get to see them very little.
1. Who or what influenced you to become a Nuclear Physicist?
My physics teacher at school who was a young woman and very inspiring. When one of us asked a question she would say “what an interesting question, we don’t really understand all of that yet, perhaps you could find it out if you did physics as a career. That made us feel clever, signficant and that physics was an exciting subject with so much to explore and find out and a subject where we could make a real contribution. She also told us about other woman physiciists like Marie Curie, Irene Joiot-Curie and Lisa Meitner. they inspired and connected us – we could see that physics was a suject for women as well as men. Being at an all girls school and having mostly women teachers was a ggreat help in that respect.
2.Why was it important for you to work with Children in Kolkata after your University studies?
I had always wanted to go to Kolkata, ever since I was a child. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. I must have read about it in a book. It wasn’t just India it was specifically Kolkata. I was also inspired by Fr Patrick O’Mahony who was apreist at the RC Parish of Our Lady of the Wayside in Shirley, Solihull where we would go to Mass quite often when I was a child. He was a friend of Dr Samir Chaudhuri who had established the Child in Need Institute (CINI) just outside Kolkata. I contacted Dr Chadhuri and he sorted me out when I got to Kolkata and set me to work at the Rehabilitation Centres for Children.
3.What is your current work and are you enjoying it?
I am the Director of the United Nation Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva. We generate ideas through research for peace and security in the UN. I love the job – apart from the worry of finding funds all the time becausrewe are a voluntarily-funded body – we don’t have access to the general UN budget like the rest of the United Nations.
4.What is your most memorable event and why?
Too many memories to single out one!!!!
5.Who are your heroes and what is it about them that you find amazing?
Jesus of course – what an amazing person. His compassion and love for all humans seems beyond our normal humanity. I would live to see everyone in the way he might. Dr Martin Luther King – his writings, his life and his truth is a constant source of inspiration. Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu and eveyone who survived the opression of apartheid with their souls intact. Indeed anyone who gets through terrible ordeals of meaness still with love in the hearts and a determination to stand up for what is right and true is an inspiration to me. Elli Wiesel, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi. I am also inspired by poets. Favaoutries include Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and Stephen Spender.
6.What is your opinion and solutions to environmental issues?
What, all of them? Take personal responsibility for what you can – eg recycle, turn off unnecessary lights, don’t leave TVs etc on standby, travel in the most environmentally friendly way you can afford etc. We should replace fossil fuels with sustainable fuels such as using solar and wind energy. Imagine if every house and apartment block in Europe and North America had solar panels on the roof supplying them with hot water – what a difference that would make to demand for fossil fuels.
7.What can we all do to promote world peace?
Vote!!!! We are not putting enough pressure on our politicians to provide peaceful solutions to conflict and to reduce spending on peace rather than war. Push leaders for nuclear disarmament and other types of weapons control (such as bioweapons , cluster munitions and small arms). Get involved!
8.What are your thoughts to the British Disabled Flying Association – BDFA?
Fantastic organization! They need large grants to buy more aircraft and pay more instructors
9.What has been your greatest achievement to date?
My son and my daughter – being a mother.
10. What would you do if you could?
Lose weight without dieting!
11.What is your ideal example of your perfect day?
It was this year actually on Easter Sunday in Ireland with family relaxing in glorious sunshine with the people I love.
12.What meaningful things do you do that give you satisfaction?
Walking the dogs every day – exercise in natural surroundings.
13.Where is your favorite place on earth?
Connie’s Acre, Caheragh, West Cork