Dr Maria Pavlidou

Dr Maria Pavlidou

School of Physics and Astronomy
School Liaison Officer

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
Poynting Physics
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Maria Pavlidou is the School Liaison Officer of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

She is an educator and communicator with more than 25 years experience in teaching physics to Secondary School students and University students in the UK, and earlier in her career in Greece.


  • PhD in Musical Acoustics, University of Wales, Cardiff, 1997
  • Teaching Qualification (equivalent), Athens, Greece, 1989
  • BSc (Hons) in Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, 1988
  • BSc (Hons) in Musical Harmony, Conservatory Orfeio of Athens, Greece, 1987


Maria started her career as a teacher of physics and music at the Experimental Music High School of Pallini in Greece. Her interests in both music and physics led her into collaborations with the Contemporary Music Research Centre (KSYME), and the Institute for Research on Music and Acoustics (IEMA) in Athens, Greece.

She subsequently completed her PhD in the UK and became a teacher of physics in various secondary schools in West Midlands and eventually head of physics in her last placement. Maria joined The University of Birmingham as an Ogden Teacher Fellow in 2013 and as a full time member of staff in 2015.

Since 2015, she has been organising the Outreach Programme of the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. She is involved in the HiSPARC project, the Year 9 Physics Olympiad Competition, the Particle Physics Masterclass for secondary school students, the Particle Physics Workshop for primary school students and many more.

From July 2017 to December 2017 Maria took over the role of wellbeing tutor for the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham.


  • EPS Foundation: Mechanics & Waves
  • Physics Undergraduate Third Year: Physics Teaching in Schools
  • Physics Undergraduate Third Year: Physics of Music and Sound


Maria’s research work (1993-1996)

Focussed on the string-finger interaction in the classical guitar. The sound of the guitar is determined by the construction of its body and the interaction which takes place between the player's finger and the string. The aim of the work was to investigate the importance of different factors affecting the interaction process, such as the frictional force between string and fingertip, the waves created on the string during the interaction and the physical properties of string and finger.

For this purpose, a three-dimensional physical model of the interaction was created. The model included transverse (in two planes) and torsional waves on the string while the fingernail and muscle of the player's finger were also modelled. The simulations predicted the movement of the string and fingertip during the interaction, the amplitude and velocity distributions of the string upon release, the force waveform on the bridge and the subsequent free string vibrations. The equations of motion were solved using the Finite Difference Method. In order to measure the string displacement during the interaction, an experimental method was devised which allowed measurements to be made at one point on the string near the plucking position.

The method used two optical sensors and detected the string shadow in two planes perpendicular to each other. Measurements were taken during real plucks from various players. Results from the computational model showed that the string-finger interaction is strongly influenced by the frictional characteristics of the fingernail, the response of the finger-muscle, the input admittance of the body and the direction of the finger movement. The interaction process was less influenced by the initial touch point between string and finger and the fingertip's speed.

Other activities

  • Maria has strong links with The Ogden Trust, a charitable trust that exists to promote the teaching and learning of physics. A small number of the outreach events organised at the University, engage entirely with Ogden Trust schools (primary and secondary). In addition, a CPD for Ogden primary school teachers at CERN has been organised, in collaboration with colleagues from CERN and STFC as part of the creations-project.eu
  • Maria is a member of the Institute of Physics (West Midlands Branch) organising the Institute of Physics evening lectures at the University of Birmingham, which are open to the general public, teachers and secondary students.
  • Maria is a STEM ambassador, frequently visiting schools and/or societies, giving talks on The Antikythera Mechanism, careers in physics and many more.


  • Alexopoulos A., Pavlidou M., Cherouvis S. (2019), ‘Playing with Protons’: a training course for primary school teachers at CERN., Phys. Educ. 54 015013
  • Pavlidou M., Lazzeroni C. (2016), Particle physics for primary schools - enthusing future physicists., Phys. Educ. 51 054003
  • Pavlidou M., Richardson B. E. (1997), The string-finger interaction in the classical guitar: Theoretical model and experiments., Proc. Int. Symp. Musical Acoustics, pp. 55-60