Dr Tim Gregory

Nuclear chemist and author of METEORITE: The Stones From Outer Space That Made Our World

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Leading nuclear chemist, based at Sellafield
Author of METEORITE: The Stones From Outer Space That Made Our World
Regular presenter for BBC science including BBC Bitesize segments during lockdown
Starred in six-part BBC2 series Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?

Dr Tim Gregory works full-time as a nuclear chemist in the heart of the British nuclear industry. He spends his work days in the lab measuring the chemistry and radioactivity of nuclear materials. His work takes him to the forefront of nuclear energy, net zero and nuclear medicine.

His love for science shines through in his day job, public speaking, and media activities.

Tim’s background is in academia. After completing a PhD at the University of Bristol researching the formation of the Solar System using meteorites, Tim became a postdoctoral researcher at the British Geological Survey in Nottingham. His background on the cutting edge of academic research prepared him perfectly for his sideways career step into the nuclear industry.

In 2017, Tim surpassed thousands of applicants for a place in the six-part BBC2 series Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?, where he was put through the full rigours of astronaut selection and reached the final three.

Since then, he has gone on to present a segment about meteorites on BBC4’s The Sky at Night and has made live television appearances on BBC Breakfast, BBC Look North, and BBC Points West. He frequently features on local and national radio to talk about events in the world of space, science, and nuclear.

In 2020, Tim’s debut book – Meteorite: How Stones from Outer Space Made Our World — was published by John Murray to critical acclaim.

Tim loves nothing more than sharing his love of science and the wonders of the natural world. He frequently speaks to audiences of all sizes and ages on topics including nuclear science, chemistry, planetary science, and the importance of science in society. His enthusiasm is infectious and his deep knowledge shines through.

Originally from West Yorkshire (and with the accent to prove it), Tim completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester where he achieved a first class with honours in Geology with Planetary Science (MEarthSci). He discovered his love for cosmochemistry during a ten-week internship at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he investigated the history of water-rich asteroids.

When he is not in the lab, Tim is either outside enjoying the Cumbrian mountains, or inside reading, writing or playing his guitar.

Praise for Meteorite:

‘A captivating blend of painstaking detective work and dramatic cosmic events. The impact that rocks from space have had on our culture, and on our knowledge of where we come from may surprise you.’ — Jon Butterworth, Professor of Physics at UCL and author of Smashing Physics

‘Tim Gregory gets it… he brings a childlike wonder of discovery to everything he sees… His scientific delight is contagious.’ — Chris Hadfield, Astronaut


Suggested Talks:

Nuclear Power – the Key to Net Zero

The British Government’s net zero policy will affect all our daily lives. From how we power our homes to how we fuel our economy, the plan to phase out fossil fuels and replace them with zero carbon energy is an unprecedented challenge. But there is a solution – nuclear. Nuclear power is the only form of mass energy generation that can replace fossil fuels, and, unlike other renewable sources, it works day or night, rain or shine.

Understanding the Opportunity in Nuclear Waste

Nuclear energy is bound inside the heart of atoms. It has the potential to power our civilisation while avoiding climate change, but nuclear waste — hazardous for hundreds of millennia — is often touted as a reason not to pursue a nuclear-powered future. Emerging technologies, however, cast nuclear waste in a new light, transforming it from our deadliest foe to one of our greatest assets, with the ability to power new reactors, cure cancers, and take us into deep space.

Nuclear Medicine: Radioactivity and Novel Cures for Cancer

Innovation lies at the crossroads between different fields. In the overlap between nuclear science and biochemistry, scientists are revolutionising medicine. By turning radiation from a deadly foe into a life-giving friend, they’re developing novel ways to diagnose and cure cancers on the smallest possible scale: one atom at a time.

Nuclear Power in Space

The first humans will settle on the Moon and Mars within decades. It will be impossible without nuclear energy. Scientists at Sellafield are mining historic nuclear waste for exotic elements that will power space batteries on the surfaces of other worlds and in the outer solar system. Meanwhile, engineers at Rolls-Royce are developing miniature nuclear reactors that could power extraterrestrial human habitats. This is not science fiction; it’s science reality, and it’s happening right now.

Blue Sky Science – Lessons for Innovation

So-called ‘blue sky science’ — that is, science that is curiosity-driven with no explicit or immediate real world application — is part of the lifeblood of the scientific enterprise and technological innovation. Unconstrained by specificity, it often takes us to uncharted territories, and from it come many unexpected and miraculous discoveries. Indeed, many of the things we take for granted in our everyday lives saw their inception in esoteric and abstract questions of academic research – and there are many lessons here for innovation in business too.

Cosmochemistry – Lessons from the Bigger Picture

The charred remains of stones that fall from the sky have captured the human imagination for millennia, and using the tools of modern science we have read from them the most ancient tales in the Solar System: the coming together of our planetary system, the formation of worlds, and clues to our own origins. Meteorites are custodians of deep time and interstellar chemistry. These rocks from outer space can offer lessons about ourselves and our organisation by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

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Thank you for delivering such an amazing talk – really inspiring to understand the art of the possible of transforming nuclear waste into something humans can stand to gain huge benefit from. Your talk still has me thinking!

Stuart Breyer, CEO