Project M wins Royal Society of Chemistry Award

Project M - 1000 samples, 100 schools, 1 great big experiment

Project M
is a national schools project that has allowed UK schools to prepare and run samples at Diamond Light Source, for the first time ever. Led by Claire Murray, Julia Parker and Laura Holland, Project M has been awarded the  Royal Society of Chemistry Inspiration & Industry Award for 2018.

The Inspiration & Industry Award is given in recognition of an individual's or team's impact on the local or national community in relation to the promotion of science and STEM careers. Project M receives the award for running an outstanding nationwide citizen science chemistry project to engage UK secondary students and teachers in real-life research.


In Project M, 1000 samples of calcium carbonate, a common naturally occurring mineral, were prepared with different additives by 100 schools across the country. These samples were analysed at Diamond over a 24 hour period, and the results then sent to the schools to process. The research team are interested in finding out how different additives affect the different form of calcium carbonate produced – being able to easily produce different forms could be incredibly important for manufacturing.

We are incredibly excited to accept this award. A lot of the hard work was done by the students themselves, and we were so impressed with how much they engaged with the research and with the project. We hope that the project will show students how incredible real research is, and that real science is done by people like them – being a scientist is for everyone.

We would especially like to thank all of the teachers who took part, and in particular, we would like to thank Lynn Nickerson and Simon Flynn at Didcot Girls and Camden School for Girls who both helped pilot and perfect the project. We would also like to thank Rebecca O’Brien and the team at the Wellcome Trust, who helped produce resources and offered incredible support and guidance.

Last but not least, we thank the wonderful team at Diamond. From developing new software to packing the kits, we were helped in so many ways by a huge number of people who share our passion for communicating science and whose support was invaluable.

Dr Claire Murray of Diamond's Project M

This was the very first ‘citizen science’ project run from Diamond, and allowed schools to carry out real research – this experiment had never been done before.

Royal Society of Chemistry winners are recognised for the originality and impact of their research, or for their contributions to the chemical sciences industry or chemistry education. The Awards also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.