COMPOS team

Our team is a mix of physics and maths educators with a broad range of experience, see below for a short biography of each.

Prof. Alex Lvovsky

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Alexander Lvovsky is an experimental physicist. He was born and raised in Moscow and did his undergraduate in Physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. In 1993, he became a graduate student in Physics at Columbia University in New York City. His thesis research, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Sven R. Hartmann, was in the field of coherent optical transients in atomic gases. After completing his Ph. D. in 1998, he spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physics, and then five years at Universität Konstanz in Germany, first as an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow, then as a research group leader in quantum-optical information technology.

In 2004 he became Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary, and from autumn 2018, a professor at the University of Oxford. Alexander is a past Canada Research Chair, a lifetime member of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Optical Society and a winner of many awards – most notably the International Quantum Communications award, commendation letter from the Prime Minister of Canada and the Emmy Noether research award of the German Science Foundation. His work has been featured by CBC, NBC, Wired, New Scientist, MIT Technology Review, the Guardian, TASS and even the Daily Mail.

 

One of COMPOS's key tenets is its accessibility. Any student who loves science and who has a natural sense of curiosity, regardless of their background, can pursue their passion and find likeminded people through COMPOS – and that’s how it should be.

Vlad Chernov

A head shot of Vlad wearing a white bow tie, formal shirt and grey waistcoat, he is looking straight ahead, smiling slightly

Vlad Chernov is an educator. He was born in Rostov-on-Don, and did his undergraduate studies in Applied Physics and Maths at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), followed by a 2-year Masters programme in Aerodynamics, and 9 months in MIPT business school. Vlad started teaching Physics and Maths in 2006 in Moscow, working at the Anglo-American School of Moscow, where he created 30+ educational videos for the SkillUp YouTube channel.

He moved to UK in 2015 to do a PGCE at the University of Manchester. Vlad taught Physics and Further Maths at The Royal Grammar School High Wycombe for 6 years, and was the head teacher of Algorithmics UK - an online school teaching programming (Python and Scratch). In 2021 was invited to join Alex Lvovsky to launch COMPOS.

I have 18 years teaching experience. I love physics and I want my students to love it as much as I do. Physics is fun and it should be fun to learn. It is a pity that sometimes learning physics comes down to memorising facts. I always try to introduce science as a way of thinking, perceiving the life around you. Physics is so much more.

Dr Rachael Hawkins

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Rachael Hawkins is a teacher and project manager from West Oxfordshire. She decided at 11 years old that she would be an astrophysicist and became the first person in her family to attend university, joining Imperial College to study for her MSci Physics and then Queen Mary, London where she earned her PhD in Brane Cosmology under the supervision of Prof James Lidsey.

Rachael had the opportunity to teach cosmology to school teachers during her PhD and took part in summer extension programmes for sixth formers. She realised teaching and communicating science was going to be a big part of her future. She qualified as a teacher in 2004, and worked as lead teacher for gifted and talented students, head of physics and lead KS4 teacher before being poached by the Institute of Physics to run the Stimulating Physics programme in Oxfordshire between 2010-2012. During this time, Rachael supported 12 local schools to upskill physics teaching staff, train technicians and create bespoke schemes of work as well as organising a teacher CPD event at Rutherford Appleton giving local teachers a chance to hear from top scientists.

She has worked as a consultant and teacher trainer for STEM Learning, offering training to non-specialist science teachers, and working with technicians to devise a technicians' training course to improve the quality of practical work in schools. She continues to tutor students from GCSE to undergraduate level because she loves teaching.

More recently, Rachael was head of services for a national charity delivering public health programmes. She was responsible for 36 programmes, monitoring and evaluation and the development of a specialist course for practitioners to be accredited through a national award body. She draws on her project management experience to support COMPOS by running operations for the programme.

The gleam in someone's eye and the smile that spreads over their face as they grasp a concept for the first time is awesome. To know you had a part in that, together you shared a moment of mind-expanding comprehension, it's the best thing.

Vladlena Kazantseva

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Vladlena Kazantseva was born in the south of Russia, in Astrakhan, and raised in Moscow. She has always been captivated by mathematics and have loved problem-solving. Vlada was accepted into a prestigious mathematics school, and was accepted to a maths faculty at the esteemed National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow where she earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree.

Her journey in education began during her high school years when she organised math Olympiads and events. This early involvement sparked a passion for teaching and managing educational initiatives. Having worked as a math teacher at an independent school in Moscow and a specialized mathematics school, she led advanced groups of students, guiding the intellectual development of young learners. 

Vlada took on leadership roles as a team leader and methodologist in the math department, where she had the chance to guide and support other teachers in providing excellent math education. Vlada organised a "Women in Mathematics" day in collaboration with HSE University's mathematics faculty, promoting diversity and empowering women in the field and education.

Vlada organised two exciting science festivals that drew in hundreds and thousands of participants before moving out of teaching to a big IT company, where she held the position of The Head of Development and product manager in the education department. She developed a comprehensive online schoolbook in this role, providing students with a centralized and interactive learning resource across various subjects alongside her focus working with teachers nationwide, providing support, and introducing courses and tools to achieve better teaching results.

Throughout my career, my unwavering dedication has been to transform education, empower students and teachers, and make a positive impact. With a solid background in mathematics, a love for teaching, and a passion for innovation, I constantly seek new ways to bring about meaningful change in education.

COMPOS Board

COMPOS is supported and advised by a board made up from the worlds of academia and teaching, science journalism and educational philanthropy.