Ben Butler

Keep the questions flowing in students... You've been brilliant so far!

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing in science is discovering something new! It’s really exciting when you find something that no-one else in the world has ever known.



Godalming College (2006-2008), Bangor University (2008-Present)


A levels in Chemistry, Geography and Environmental Science, a degree in Ocean Science and a Masters in Environmental Chemistry

Work History:

My work hasn’t always been science. Throughout my education I’ve done a lot of part time work in cafes! I love coffee and cake so it was ideal!

Current Job:

I’m studying for a PhD at the moment, which is basically learning how to be a good Scientist


Bangor University

Me and my work

With the help of some of the worlds most powerful X-rays, I look at how seawater behaves at really cold temperatures

Seawater has lots of salts in it, which you’ve probably realised from the taste of it when you swim in the sea. When you freeze seawater to make salty ice cubes (not recommended for drinks), the salts inside it behave in really interesting ways, and make frozen seawater VERY different to just your normal ice cubes.

When seawater freezes in the ocean, it is known as sea ice. The Arctic Ocean (Near the North Pole) is covered in sea ice all year, but at the moment scientists have found that it is melting really quickly due to global warming!

By researching how frozen seawater behaves using X-rays that are 100,000 times more powerful than the ones used in hospitals, I hope to find out how sea ice might change in the future as our planet gets warmer and warmer.

My Typical Day

Scientists don’t normally have a ‘typical’. I find myself all over the place doing all sorts different exciting things

As far as a job goes, I can’t think of many more interesting and exciting than being a scientist. There are always so many different things to do that there isn’t much of a typical day at all. Sometimes I might spend the day reading and writing, on others I may be in the lab using lots of exciting chemicals and machines, and sometimes I might be across the other side of the world meeting other scientists to learn and discuss new ideas.

There’s always lots to do, and I never find myself bored or watching the clock. Being a scientist is great fun!

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to set up a live web-cam in one of the big fish tanks at the Anglesey Sea Zoo

Anglesey Sea Zoo is a local aquarium just down the road from where I work. It has all sorts of amazing sea creatures from around Britain, so everything you see there could be found around the coastline of England, Wales and Scotland! The aquarium is a really great display of the weird and wonderful wildlife that Britain has.

I would like to use to money to set up a live web-cam at the Sea Zoo that anyone could watch online at any time of day. From the webcam you would be able to watch what is going on inside one of the most exciting fish tanks that they have there, which includes loads of sharks, sea bass, spider crabs, and big rays!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Easy-going, focused, and creative

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What's your favourite food?

A good sandwich

What is the most fun thing you've done?

cycling in the French Alps

What did you want to be after you left school?

a scientist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I once squished a worm in my teachers book when I was 7. I learnt my lesson though and didn’t really get into trouble after that.

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Skiing half way down a mountain in Switzerland to take samples of the snow

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

I’ve loved surfing since I was a teenager, and this made me really interested in the ocean, fish and waves. I soon realised that waves were a bit too complicated for me (too many equations), and that I didn’t like the smell of fish… so I settled on becoming an ocean chemist!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A baker in France… I love making (and eating) bread, and I love France.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I wish the weather was nicer in North Wales (where I work), I wish I was the worlds best mathematician, and I wish that I could come back in 1,000 years time and see what scientists have discovered

Tell us a joke.

Why can’t you trust atoms?…… because they make up everything

Other stuff

Work photos:


This machine fires X-rays that are 100 thousands times more powerful than  the ones used to see what’s going on inside our bodies. It lets us sea inside see ice with AMAZING detail.


There are two types of ice cube in this picture. The front row is your regular ice cube that you’d put in your drinks. The back row is frozen seawater. Can you spot the difference?


This is me digging a hole into the snow in the Swiss Alps with other scientists. I didn’t wear enough suncream that day and got a seriously burnt face!


Here’s my fish tank that I have at home in the living room. It’s not your normal fish tank though, it’s actually a seawater fish tank with hermit crabs, shrimp, seaweed, starfish and lots of other things that you would find in a rockpool on the beach. The water is the MOST important part of the fish tank, if you make sure the water is clean then the animals will be healthy too!


This is an anemone (which is as hard to say as it is to spell in my fish tank. These guys feed by catching pieces of food that float past its sticky tentacles.


Here’s one the starfish flexing it’s muscles


This strange looking thing is actually shark egg, you might here them being called a mermaids purse. One of my friends found it washed up on a beach after a big storm, and she brought it home and put it in my fish tank. Much to our suprise, one month later we found that the shark was actually alive inside the egg. If you look really carefully you can see it in the photo.


A few months after we noticed that the shark was alive inside the egg, the shark finally hatched and we called it Sandy! It turns out it is a cat shark, which can be found all around the Welsh coast. I have to keep the seawater really clean in order to keep Sandy alive, and once it gets big enough I’m hopefully going to realease it back into the wild!