Lorraine tell us, how did you come to work here?
Growing up locally in West Berkshire I remember being intrigued by the “silver donut” in the Oxfordshire countryside. It wasn’t until my undergraduate MSci Physics degree at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), that I discovered Diamond Light Source and the impressive synchrotron accelerator complex within.
During my studies, I found my passion in the field of Beam Diagnostics, and to gain a better understanding on whether this would be a career path I wanted to pursue, I undertook a summer student placement within the Diagnostics group at Diamond Light Source. Safe to say I was hooked!
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I went on to do a PhD at RHUL in beam diagnostics where I worked at CERN in Switzerland for 3 years (notably during the Higgs discovery which was a wonderful time to be there) and undertook shifts with beam to test my new diagnostic prototype at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, USA.
Upon completing my PhD, I returned to the UK and re-joined Diamond as a Diagnostics Physicist. Since then, I have progressed to Head of the Diagnostics Group.
What do you do here, and how does your experience help?
As Head of the Diagnostics Group I lead a team of physicists, engineers and technicians. We provide instruments that are effectively the ‘eyes and ears’ of the machine. We design, build, maintain and continually improve a variety of instrumentation on the accelerators and beamlines to ensure the delivery of high-quality beams for our scientific user community and their beamline experiments. With our instruments we measure parameters of the electron and photon beams such as position, size, bunch length, charge and many more. We also implement feedback systems to allow us to control these parameters.
I have found the hands-on experience I gained through summer studentships at RHUL and Diamond, as well as my PhD working at CERN and Cornell, to be extremely helpful. Diagnostics is a mixture of physics and engineering, and often hands-on opportunities are difficult to come by during undergraduate studies.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Diamond?
The sense of fulfilment. My individual contribution supports research in physics, biology and chemistry which has far reaching impacts to everyday life.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get involved in your field?
I’d encourage someone wanting to get involved in beam diagnostics to come and visit our accelerator! Diamond and many other accelerator facilities run open days and outreach events throughout the year. For those wanting to pursue a career, I’d highly recommend undertaking a summer placement or some form of work experience. You may love it, gain useful knowledge and experience, and later may return to that same place of work as a member of staff like I did. Or you may learn that actually the career path you were on isn’t the right one for you- this is still a positive outcome! Evidence based decisions are essential, and as a physicist, having data to support a theory is key.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve been involved in?
Diamond-II by far! It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to design and hopefully build a new accelerator or upgrade an existing one. This gives rise to brand new challenges for which novel technical solutions must be researched, developed and prototyped. This applies to all diagnostics instrumentation. Furthermore, because we’re not the only facility looking to upgrade, there are many international, interfacility collaborations and joint projects with industry where we are able to exchange ideas and learn from one-another to help us achieve our shared goals.
What makes Diamond different from other organisations that you could work for?
The variety of work. Every day is different given the nature of scientific research on such a large-scale facility. We have to think outside of the box and innovate, as often we’re trying things that simply haven’t been done before. This is true across the board at Diamond, whether it be beamline scientists, those providing support for the accelerator, or those ensuring the infrastructure runs smoothly.
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