Another of Diamond’s initiatives invites students at undergraduate level to spend a summer working at the synchrotron on real scientific research projects. Daniel Greenwood was one of the students; he worked with a team from I02, one of Diamond’s life sciences beamlines, over the summer. For Daniel, it’s the practical experience of working at a scientific facility that’s so important: “It just makes such a difference. When you’re looking at an exam question on how you characterise a protein, you don’t want to have to remember flashcards and strange words. It’s much better to be able to look back to when you did that experiment, the room you were in, the machines you used. It just makes it so much clearer and more vivid”.
Laura Holland, Public Engagement Manager at Diamond, agrees that hands-on experience is key to inspiring the next generation: “There’s a team of researchers and technicians behind every new discovery at the synchrotron, and we want to show young people that scientific progress depends on these people. It’s important to demonstrate how an interest in science can translate into a career, and we need to highlight the practical consequences of research. Vaccines, nanotechnology, jet planes – that’s what Diamond can offer: it’s science in action”.
Ultimately, science is only as good as the scientists behind it. That’s why it’s so important to invest in the next generation of STEM professionals. From antibiotics to iPods, we owe most of the benefits of modern life to science. If we want progress to continue, we need to foster scientific curiosity in young minds. At Diamond, we aim to reach out to bright young people and help them realise that they are scientists.