2015 marked the busiest year yet for public engagement and education activities at Diamond, inspired by and celebrating the International Year of Light.
Our largest event was the Harwell Open Week, which Diamond was proud to play a prominent part in. The open week, which saw the first full public opening of campus in over 15 years, brought around 18,000 visitors to Harwell, including schools, industry groups and families. HRH the Duke of York, Patron of the International Year of Light, launched the open week, kick-starting the events and addressing hundreds of schools visitors taking part in activities.
HRH the Duke of York launching the Open Week at Diamond.
The largest event at the open week, the public day on Saturday 9th July, saw in excess of 4,000 visitors pass through the atrium, and a further 4,000 take a brief tour of the facility, and 3,000 pass through our activity marquee, filled with fun hands-on demos which featured science, engineering and technical teams. The atrium hosted 15 user groups, including a special Wellcome Zone, representing our broad spectrum of science, all showcasing their work to public audiences. Manchester University’s Gorgosaurus, which took up residence for the entire summer, made a big impression on our open day visitors and our staff alike!
"The students could not stop talking about Diamond Light Source in their chemistry lesson this morning."
Teacher feedback from Inside Diamond open day.
Manchester University's Gorgosaurus in the Diamond atrium.
Off site, we had a presence at Cheltenham Science Festival and at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and also at our local Oxfordshire festival, with stalls in Oxford and Abingdon. The International Year of Light was the theme for our activities, which showcased the applications of Diamond to thousands of visitors.
At the Oxfordshire Science Festival, we were pleased to partner the Nuffield department of Medicine to present a film night, celled ‘Reflections and Revolutions’. The films showcased the past and present of crystallography, showing our own Bragg Legacy film and Oxford’s Revolutionary Biology series. The films were followed by a panel discussion, with Mike Glazer, Dave Stuart, Yvonne Jones, Pam Thomas and Claire Murray taking questions, and discussing their views on the future of the field.
Since 2007, Diamond regularly opens to the public. Our public and community visits continued throughout the year, bringing an additional 2,397 visitors to site through our popular Inside Diamond days, monthly community visits, and other special events.
Our community and public engagement offers the chance to see our incredible science and engineering, but more importantly, to meet the scientists and engineers who are working with and for Diamond.
“Extremely impressed with the organisation - the welcome and activities and extremely knowledgeable presenters. An exceptional opening lecture, and the extremely informative tour guide (our endless questions expertly answered) and enthusiasm of the research scientist made this a highly enjoyable visit. Well done everyone! Brilliant!”
Visitor to the March 2016 Inside Diamond event.
For schools, our education programme continued to grow, bringing over 2,702 students and teachers to site for events themed around physics, biology and engineering. Our ‘Science in your Future’ event, aimed at girls in years 10-11, also continued. In 2016, we will expand the series into computing and chemistry, showing more of the opportunities and careers available through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and through synchrotron science.
2015 marked the first year of the Diamond Work Experience Academy. The scheme offers students age 14-18 the chance to experience working in a cutting edge STEM environment, and to find out about the breadth of careers available through science and engineering. Sixteen students completed the pilot scheme in 2015, and 26 have been accepted through a highly competitive process in 2016. We look forward to continuing to build on the scheme in the future.
Engagement with students continues throughout their undergraduate studies, and 769 undergraduate visitors from a range of disciplines visited in 2015/16, connecting their studies with active research using synchrotron tools. Our undergraduate summer placement scheme drew hundreds of applications, and welcomed over 20 students, carrying out projects with teams across the organisation. Additionally, the scheme also welcomed two 12 month placement students, working with our scientific computing teams. The 12 month placement programme has expanded significantly already, advertising 12 projects in 2016.
Pictured above: Jasmine Michalowska demonstrates a superconducting train at the Harwell Open Week.
For postgraduate students at Masters and PhD level, engagement with Diamond as a research tool is often a vital component of a postgraduate programme. We are proud to co-fund 82 PhD students with partners across the UK, and we are formally affiliated with 17 Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), providing visits, expertise and access to workshops and courses in synchrotron radiation techniques. 344 postgraduate students visited in 2015/16, with many more participating in workshops and courses. Our engagement with postgraduate students is vital, as a national facility we must ensure that young scientists are given access to the tools and techniques we offer.
All of our engagement activities, from welcoming public visitors to working with undergraduate and PhD students, contribute towards a number of Diamond’s key objectives – to secure our future by encouraging young scientists and equipping them with skills and opportunities, and to inspire public audiences with our science and engineering.
A number of our regular events took place in 2015 including: the XAS workshop, to teach new and nearly new users of Diamond spectroscopy beamlines how to perform X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) experiments and how to process and analyse their data; the second Diamond CCP4 Data Collection workshop, to teach best practice in data collection on the MX beamlines and analysis; and the annual SR User meeting, which saw 280 users and staff gather to hear about and discuss the latest Diamond research across a number of beamlines.
Student, Verity Jackson, on an MX beamline at the Diamond CCP4 Data Collection workshop.
Diamond also hosted two one-off international events. Size-Strain VII took place in September 2015 at the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering. The conference drew in an 80+ international audience to discuss diffraction analysis of the microstructure of materials. Leading experts working in a number of disease research fields came together for the Viral Pathogens Symposium in November 2015 to discuss key scientific facets of virology and the role that structural approaches can play in the development of therapeutics against viral disease.
Size-Strain VII delegates during a poster session.
There were many more beamline, technique, and software related workshops and meetings over the past 12 months. Overall Diamond led and/or hosted 38 scientific and technical events in 2015/16, for over 1,500 delegates.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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