How (not) to Build an Expert: Personal Reflections on a Terminated Physics Career

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The social contributors to the formation of expertise are often a taboo subject when practitioner communities interact with outsiders, making the exploration of these inputs a difficult endeavour. When exploring scientific communities, one resource that many STS and HSTM scholars can draw from is their personal experience as students of science – experts in waiting. I will draw on my personal experience as a physics student at a Russel Group university from 2014 to 2018, with a year abroad at a US institution. The UK physics course instilled in me an image of physics expertise that is hyper-specialised, apolitical, and ‘pure’. This was achieved through the choice of curriculum, the content of internal displays, and the culture of the department as mediated by informal interactions. This vision of expertise resonates with corporate entities whose interests are in experts that can function as stable commodities, rather than volatile political actors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalSpontaneous Generations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022


  • Physics Education
  • Science Education


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