Employee Spotlight: Gavyn Trowbridge

Ionoptika is very proud of its skilled and dedicated staff, who together with our loyal users make up our global community. In our ongoing series, we shine the spotlight on one of our talented colleagues each month to introduce you to some of the people behind Ionoptika.

This month we move away from new hires to what will be a very familiar face to many of our customers around the world, Senior Test & Service Engineer, Gavyn Trowbridge. Gavyn is one of Ionoptika’s longest serving employees, joining the company in 2004, and today he manages our customer installations and service work around the world. We asked Gavyn for an insight into his time at Ionoptika.

"...knowing that the whole team has had a part to play in the completion of the project, and knowing I am inserting the final piece of the puzzle, whilst installing it, brings a certain joy that can't be explained" - Gavyn Trowbridge, Senior Test & Service Engineer

How long have you worked at Ionoptika and what career path brought you to us?

I joined Ionoptika in Feb 2004, having previously worked in various roles in the manufacturing sector including a PCB factory, high power micro generators, up to 100kW of power from gas turbines. I self-educated through night school and day release. The role at Ionoptika suited me because I have always been interested in taking things apart, seeing how they work, and putting them back together.

What do you enjoy most about working at Ionoptika?

I appreciate the diverse range of skills and experience we have in the factory team, and the toys are pretty cool too. We get paid to play with toys!!

But the prospect that we may be creating something that could change the world for the better is a real buzz; a pharmaceutical breakthrough? A medical research breakthrough? New things never seen before in the field?

You never know what research, or researchers you may meet in the field on a customer site. The projects that our customers work on are each fascinating in their own way!

My favourite part of the role is the final installation of the instruments: knowing that the whole team has had a part to play in the completion of the project, and knowing I am inserting the final piece of the puzzle, whilst installing it, brings a certain joy that can’t be explained.

Can you describe a typical day working at Ionoptika (normally, not in the lockdown!)

There’s never a dull moment in my day and no such thing as a typical day. One day I may be building a prototype, another fixing something, and another testing a customer system. Or just general helping of others with my long-term experience?  I also usually spend quite a lot of time on customer sites around the world.

What has been your best memory or achievement during your time at Ionoptika?

The installation of the J105 instruments is quite exciting. You never know where one might be going and it’s a real buzz to travel to global customer sites to install these systems.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Gaming, music, walking, meditation, the great outdoors. Often meditating in places of beauty.

Have you been doing anything interesting/different/new to cope with the lockdown?

Trying to stay sane!!! Making the most of not being away and making home improvements.

What are you looking forward to most once the lockdown is over?

Enjoying the great outdoors more, exploring new places. This year’s holiday was going to be an eastern European adventure, taking in 4 countries, but this is now postponed until next year!


Interested in becoming part of our team? Visit our Careers page.

Employee Spotlight: Dr Michal Ryszka

As a small company, Ionoptika is very proud of its skilled and dedicated staff, who together with our loyal users make up our global community. So each month we will be putting the spotlight on one of our talented colleagues to introduce you to some of the people behind Ionoptika.

This month, continuing the theme of new hires, we introduce Dr. Michal Ryszka, who joined Ionoptika in 2019. Michal gained his experience during postdocs in both France and the USA before joining Ionoptika as Development Engineer with special responsibility for Ionoptika’s J105 SIMS instrument.

We asked Michal for some insight into the pivotal points in his career:

Michal quotation

Why did you decide to study science when you were at school or university?

I was always interested in how things work, both in terms of science and technology, so when I was in high school and it came down to choosing what I want to study at University it was really an easy choice. I went for applied physics at Gdansk University of Technology. I got interested in atomic and molecular physics, so after getting a degree in science and engineering I went for a PhD at the Open University in the UK in Chemical Physics.

What do you enjoy most about working at Ionoptika?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is being involved in the development of a cutting-edge technology.  Knowing how many applications benefit from our products is really motivating!

Can you describe a typical day working at Ionoptika (normally, not during the lockdown!)

I spend most of my time running ion simulations and analysing results for a future development project. I am also involved in development projects run by other colleagues. I can be also found with my hands on the J’s currently being built, tweaking and tuning.

What has been your best memory or achievement in your career?

My best memory is of the day when I finally recorded first hydrated DNA base cluster ions in an experimental setup I had been developing for my PhD project.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Whenever the weather allows it, I like mounting biking. I also like reading books and playing video games.

Have you been doing anything interesting/different/new to cope with the lockdown?

I am trying to stay fit by riding on my turbo trainer. I have also been doing lots of research for a project I am looking forward to after the lockdown is over.

What are you looking forward to most once the lockdown is over?

I’m planning to buy a van and turn it into a campervan, then take it for mountain biking trips around the UK and the continent.


You can catch up with Michal and the rest of the Ionoptika team at various conferences throughout the year. Interested in becoming part of our team? Visit our Careers page.

Employee Spotlight: Dr Naoko Sano

As a small company, Ionoptika is very proud of its skilled and dedicated staff, who together with our loyal users make up our global community. So each month we will be putting the spotlight on one of our talented colleagues to introduce you to some of the people behind Ionoptika.

The first to be in the spotlight is one of most recent hires, Dr Naoko Sano, our new Applications Scientist. We asked Naoko about her career and what she enjoys about working at Ionoptika.

Employee spotlight - quote

Where were you before you started at Ionoptika?

I joined Ionoptika from Nara Women’s University in Japan where I was Associate Professor in textile science.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Most days I spend my time working on new applications and processing SIMS data. At lunch time I sometimes like to go for a walk with friends from the office, which really helps me refresh. The rest of the time I can be found running samples on the J105 ToF SIMS instrument for existing and potential customers. I’m also involved in testing new software and providing feedback back to the software team.

What do you love most about your job?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is the great variety of applications that I’m involved in, from investigating neurotransmitters in brain tissue, to analysing the frictional properties of lubricants. This makes the job of Application Scientist immensely challenging but hugely rewarding!

Why did you decide to study science when you were at school or university?

A working experience with the Surface Analysis group at NPL in 2006-7 gave a great impact to me in a good way and I really enjoyed UK/London life whilst I was there. Fortunately, around the end of the working experience, Prof. John F. Watts offered a PhD studentship, so I decided to study surface science in University of Surrey, which was my big turning point in my life.

What’s it like working at Ionoptika?

All colleagues here in Ionoptika are friendly, so I enjoy chatting with them at the office. So I miss it very much because of the current WFH situation…

What has been your best memory or achievement in your career?

It would be my first poster award in SIMS-XVII. On the day for the award ceremony, I was late to get to the venue, because I didn’t care for the ceremony at all (a naughty student!). When I got into the venue and tried to find a space to sit, the chairman (coincidentally it was John, my supervisor) on the stage, said ‘Naoko, you are there!’. Everybody turned back and looked at me. I was so proud of my work on the stage, but I felt so embarrassed as well…

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Aromatherapy and reading books.

Have you been doing anything interesting/different/new to cope with the lockdown?

I’ve started online yoga lessons. I still prefer to do it in an actual studio with people, but online yoga class works at least. 

What are you looking forward to most once the lockdown is over?

Travel to see my family and friends all over the world. Miss you all very much!


You can catch up with Naoko and the rest of the Ionoptika team at various conferences throughout the year. Interested in becoming part of our team? Visit our Careers page.