Kevin strikes gold with physics display at House of Commons

A post-doctoral researcher in the Atomic and Laser Department at the University of Oxford, who’s originally from Clonmel, struck gold at a competition in the House of Commons in London for the excellence of his physics research, walking away with a £3,000 sterling prize.

A post-doctoral researcher in the Atomic and Laser Department at the University of Oxford, who’s originally from Clonmel, struck gold at a competition in the House of Commons in London for the excellence of his physics research, walking away with a £3,000 sterling prize.

34 year-old Kevin O’Keeffe presented his physics research to dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges as part of the poster competition SET for Britain last week.

His research, which involves generating sources of coherent x-ray radiation in order to measure very fast chemical reactions, was judged against 29 other shortlisted researchers’ work and came out on top.

Kevin said “I’m surprised and happy.  I really didn’t expect to win. There’s some great research on display.  It’s really nice to get the recognition and acknowledgement that the research we are doing is important.”

Originally from The Spa, Clonmel, Kevin is son of Margaret and the late William O’Keeffe. A past pupil of Clonmel High School, he studied physics at UCC before completing his doctorate at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. 

In 2005 he moved to Oxford to work as a researcher in the Atomic and Laser Physics department at Oxford University. In 2010 he became a lecturer in physics at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University.  

SET for Britain is a competition in the House of Commons that involves researchers displaying posters of their work to panels of expert judges and politicians.

The event aims to help politicians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base and rewards some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK.

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, one of the organisers of the event, said “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. 

These early career scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”