An interview with… Professor Neil Chapman

8th February 2019

MCM is looking to give an insight into the radioactive waste management community; understanding how they’ve come to be where they are and investigating their passions once the technical reports are put down and the PC switched off for the day.

To start the series off, we asked Professor Neil Chapman, one of our founding partners, a series of questions to illuminate his personal and professional life and help us understand what it takes to be a radioactive waste management specialist.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?  

People aside, because I’m sure you’re thinking about more material things, it must be getting out into the hills with a pair of boots on.

How did you get into Radioactive Waste Management?

I was doing a postdoc in Leeds in experimental petrology and saw an advert for someone who knew about the effect of heat on rocks to join a new team working on radioactive wastes. As I’d spent a lot of time melting basalts and it was based at Harwell – then still an awe-inspiring name – I thought I’d give it a try. That was when the very first UK work was being done on high-level waste and the thinking was that it was going into the ground, hot.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

I should really be saying something about family here, but I’m sure you’re thinking about material things again here, so I’m going to say my first book on archaeology, when I was nine or ten years old.

What are 3 words you’d use to describe MCM?

Intelligent, experienced, friendly.

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Avocado and tomato salad with olive oil and crusty bread, followed by tarte Tatin and vanilla ice-cream (oh, and a bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages).

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome this?

Being involved in two company break-ups and transitions. Just hard, focused and sometimes very painful work.

What is the last photo that you took on your camera/phone? 

The Silvermine mountains covered in snow with some sheep in a frosty meadow in the foreground, yesterday morning.

What is your favourite thing about working in radioactive waste management?

The fun people I work with and the luxury of being paid to think far into the future and deep into the past (that’s two things…)

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

Maybe share a pitcher of wine in a tavern with Caravaggio and then watch him at work (and play).