Chloe Johnson
06 Aug 2020



From ISIS Sandwich Student to PhD graduate, and future user?

Chloe Johnson portrait



Chloe studied biomedical sciences at the University of Kent and, during her second year, was persuaded by a careers talk into taking time out of her studies to do a year in industry. She applied for some lab-based placements and, because of an opportunity in sixth form to go in to a primary school and speak to the children about science, she was also encouraged to apply for a science communication placement here at ISIS.

For a year, beginning in September 2014, Chloe worked as part of the Impact Team at ISIS, writing industry case studies, helping with the site Open Week and editing the website pages. “I loved being a placement student," she explains; “it was very different to university studies – and very interesting being exposed to real scientists doing science! We built a community between the sandwich students, which was nice." She says, “The skills I developed during the year were just as important as the ones I would have gained from a lab-based placement."

During her second year, Chloe discovered a love of research, and decided during her placement that she wanted to include science communication as much as she could. In her final year project, she worked with a group looking at myosin, a muscle protein. She enjoyed this and continued in the group as a PhD student, investigating myosin in the heart, and its effects on inherited heart disease. “But even after a PhD-worth of research, we still don't know the answers!"

During her PhD, Chloe kept up her science communication by teaching undergraduates and developing a demonstration to out to a local school. “The presentation skills I gained during my placement were not just valuable for outreach activities, but also for presenting my work to the department and at international conferences." Chloe explains; “there are lots of times you need to be able to explain your work to non-scientists, or write for a general audience. My placement gave me a chance to develop these skills."

Chloe really noticed a difference in herself when coming back to university after her year at ISIS; “I had definitely got much better at time management! I worked my final year at university as if it was a job, which made me much more efficient. I even used the same skills when writing my PhD thesis up in 2019."

The favourite part of Chloe's placement came towards the end, when she went the RADEX conference in Moscow. “Having been part of the conference build up, it was great to see my work go full circle. To be trusted to represent the organisation made me realise how much I'd grown into the role during the year."

After finishing her PhD, Chloe has been successful in applying for a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge to study non-muscle myosin. She has gone into the fellowship knowing the value of using neutrons at ISIS in her work, and aiming to share her knowledge of ISIS with her new colleagues.

Her advice to those considering a placement would be; “Do it! A year feels like a long time, but it's worth it. Being at ISIS, I got to experience large-scale science at a really early stage in my career. If you come into the placement with a goal of what you want to get out of it, that really helps focus your mind and your motivation while you're there."

Contact: de Laune, Rosie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)