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Throughout 2016-2017, Diamond continued its commitment to engage diverse audiences with our science and technology, and to build skills across a wide range of areas with our staff, users and members of the community. We achieve this through a programme of regular, high quality schools and public events, the delivery of a range of events and workshops which meet the needs of our scientific community.
In total, our events welcomed 6,818 visitors to the facility this year. This divided into 3,803 school and public visitors, 856 undergraduates and postgraduate students, 1,831 workshop and conference attendees and 328 visitors from our stakeholders, partners on site or VIPs.
We were honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal in February 2017 to help celebrate our anniversary, and she highlighted the importance of our staff engaging with schools and the public and praised their efforts.
Diamond is a national facility, and one of our key challenges is working with audiences who cannot access our onsite programmes or schemes. An important pilot programme was a training weekend run in partnership with SSERC, the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre. The programme saw ten teachers from across Scotland undertake CPD in technology and programming.
Scientific computing and software development are some of our key recruitment challenge areas, and in order to meet the demands in this area in years to come, working with young learners to showcase the range of fantastic career opportunities is vital. Increasing teacher confidence with these subjects, and connecting them to the field’s cutting edge, is a great way of reaching very large numbers of students, and we look forward to continuing this work in the upcoming financial year.
”It’s fantastic – everything I’ve seen today I can apply to my physics lessons”
Teacher attending the SSERC/Diamond CPD course
One of the requests we often receive from students visiting is to actually do an experiment. Unfortunately, with many thousands of visitors each year, we are unable to grant this wish. However, in 2017, 100 schools around the country will get the chance to do exactly that, with the delivery of Project M. Our largest schools project to date, Project M is the very first experiment to allow schools to have their samples run at Diamond.
Conceived by two scientists at Diamond, Claire Murray and Julia Parker, the project will examine the effects of a series of amino acid additives on the structure of calcium carbonate, one of the most abundant minerals on earth. This experiment has never been attempted before, and the results will feed into genuine scientific research - meaning that for students around the UK,they could be chalking up their first publication before they finish their A levels or higher. The samples were run on High Resolution Powder Diffraction beamline (I11) in April 2017.
”It’s really helpful to see real, interdisciplinary work taking place here. This facility is not just about science, it also crosses over into technical and engineering – and it’s great to have Diamond as a concrete example of that.”
Teacher attending the SSERC/Diamond CPD course
Diamond has continued to work closely with the public engagement teams at STFC, running many joint events including; an undergraduate day introducing students to careers in particle accelerators, a family stargazing event, and the ever popular Particle Physics Masterclasses which welcomed over 700 students to site. We have also expanded our programme of careers focussed ‘In Your Future’ school workshops where external companies and scientists run activities on-site to give students an idea of the range of careers on offer. This year saw the introduction of ‘Computing your Future’ aimed at highlighting computing careers to 11-14 year olds.
Off-site, we were involved in Daresbury Laboratory’s series of open days as well as being present at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and the Royal Society summer exhibition. During the year Diamond has run stalls at the Oxford science festival, the south east Big Bang fair, and the National History Museum’s night of science event. The team also ran an interactive session at the BIG public engagement conference.
2016 saw the expansion of the Diamond schools work experience scheme and 26 students were given the chance to come to Diamond for a week, completing projects arranged groups across the company. In its second year the scheme has proved very successful and will be continued in 2017.
Supported by members of staff from across Diamond also kept up its series of ever popular open days and school visit days.
”We all came away inspired by the work you do at Diamond.”
Diamond open day visitor
Our summer student programme and Year in Industry scheme continue to engage undergraduate students, providing in-depth research projects which yield skills in not only synchrotron science, but life-long skills in communication, engagement and project management.
Diamond is proud to co-fund over 70 PhD studentships in collaboration with research organisations around the UK and beyond. These students are part of a vibrant interdisciplinary community, and in the past year we have made significant changes to our processes ensuring these talented researchers are provided with the best opportunities.
2016 was the first year we issued a centralised call for collaborative PhD proposals to Diamond employees, the Diamond user community and the wider UK higher education community, which will be opened annually.
In this first year, the scheme attracted 30 proposals. Following an internal review panel, 15 studentships were funded and we look forward to welcoming the new PhD student cohort in October 2017. We will also be introducing a PhD conference in 2017 to give all of our doctoral students the opportunity to present their world-class research and develop their wider scientific communication skills.
In 2016 Diamond continued to host a selection of regular and well received workshops. Outlined in the table below, our programme reached scientists across a wide range of disciplines, offering training, discussion, and access to the latest techniques in synchrotron science.
In 2016, Diamond was also very proud to pick up the mantle of two well established International Conferences, XRM2016 and APXPS2016, which both took place at the University of Oxford's Mathematical Institute.
At the beginning of 2017 Diamond hosted its first sample preparation for cryo-EM imaging workshop. The workshop was aimed at novices offering them the opportunity of hands-on-training sessions with Diamond’s state-ofthe- art electron microscopes, the eBIC four Titan Krios microscopes and the Talos Arctica microscope.
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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