Young scientists discover vast potential of cutting-edge science facilities

Inaugural CDT workshop introduces students to novel techniques available at Diamond and ISIS

Delegates on the CDT Workshop, March 2015
Delegates on the CDT Workshop, March 2015
Students from around the UK journeyed to Diamond and ISIS for a week this March to learn about the range of techniques that these facilities support. Attendees were introduced to a variety of different experimental options that are only available at machines like these; techniques that could prove vital in their upcoming research.
 
Diamond’s Physical Sciences Director, Trevor Rayment, explains: “Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) are based at universities and provide training and research opportunities for scientists and engineers. Students are funded for four year PhD courses, during which time they carry out research and learn technical and transferable skills for a future in science or engineering. As part of these Research Council funded programmes, students will visit institutions like Diamond so that they can see first-hand the work that goes on at the forefront of research at national research facilities.”
Jonathan Rackh, student on the CDT workshop
Jonathan Rackh, student on the CDT workshop
The joint ISIS/Diamond CDT workshop, which was based on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, ran from the 8th-13th March, during which time students attended 21 hours of lectures, 8 hours of practical classes, and a further 8 hours of tours and evening talks. Attendees learnt about a range of different neutron, X-ray and muon techniques, including small angle scattering, diffraction, spectroscopy, and more. They learnt in a variety of different ways, listening to talks from experts in the field, and getting stuck in themselves with hands-on activities.
 
For the 92 students who attended, the CDT workshop proved a valuable opportunity to meet with peers and current scientists at the facilities. Jonathan Rackh was one of the students who attended the week-long workshop as part of his CDT on the advanced characterisation of materials. He reflected on the experience:  “I would definitely recommend this workshop. It exposes you to this vast range of techniques and possibilities, and this really is the best way to find out about what new techniques are available, learning first hand from the experts; we’ve learnt things that we just wouldn’t have found out anywhere else.”
Denise Li, student on the CDT workshop
Denise Li, student on the CDT workshop
Denise Li’s CDT is on soft matter and functional interfaces; she also attended the workshop, and observed the utility of the training for her research: “It’s pretty intense, with long hours, but you get a good overview of the broad range of scientific techniques. It really helpful to be exposed to these methods so that we can consider incorporating them into our PhD research. I’d definitely consider new ways of doing things now that I’ve seen what’s possible.”
 
The CDT workshop was organised as a joint event between ISIS and Diamond. Philip King is Head of the Spectroscopy and Support Division within ISIS. He observes: “The CDT workshop is a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration between advanced facilities. ISIS and Diamond offer some of the most advanced techniques available for neutron, muon and X-ray studies of materials, and by working together on initiatives like this, we can really highlight the powerful resources available on site at Harwell Campus.”
 
Steve Collins is Scientific Training & Education Co-ordinator at Diamond. He comments: “The success of the CDT workshop is testament to the hard work and dedication of Diamond and ISIS in efforts to advance the careers of young people in science. The workshop is likely to take place again in 2016, with a new round of students being invited to learn about the skills and techniques currently being used at the cutting edge of science.”
 

For more information, visit http://www.diamond.ac.uk/Home/Events/2015/CDT-Workshop.html