ISIS Industrial Placement Celebration reveals fantastic career paths and inspiring stories from former students
28 Jun 2023



This month, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source hosted its first Industrial Placement Celebration Event, where past students returned to Harwell Campus for a day of talks and to share their experiences of working at this national facility




​​​1 Opening shot - Philip.jpg​There were stories of moving onto postgraduate studies, starting careers in various industries and, indeed, returning to ISIS itself! Past students commented on the adaptability and flexibility that the industrial placement offers - from the transferable skills gained, to career progression - and offered advice​ to our current students on how to make the most of their remaining time. 

Loren Temple attended Durham University and studied for a MA in Chemistry. As part of this, she undertook a year-in-industry placement at ISIS in the Support Laboratories team, working with Dr Gavin Stenning on magnetic materials. She is now studying for her PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of York, focusing on detecting trace levels of sulphur dioxide (SO) in the atmosphere to understand its effect on air pollution and climate. With the help of funding from NERC, she has recently been involved in the development of a sensitive laser-based instrument to enable measurements of atmosphere SO in remote marine environments. 

“My research has taken me on aircraft-based fieldwork campaigns over the remote North Atlantic Ocean and on a ship-based campaign to the Arctic. Although magnetism and atmospheric chemistry sound vastly different, many of the skills that I developed at ISIS have been applicable to my PhD, from leading my own research project to communicating to different audiences. 

Kathryn Baker started her industrial placement in 2001, before moving onto work for retail as an analyst for several years. She eventually returned to ISIS as a software engineer where she has remained, now with additional line and project management responsibilities. What was particularly intriguing about Kathryn’s talk was not only her progression to a career at ISIS but also the life skills that the placement gave her, “from day one I was let loose with things that actually made a difference from the financial support from STFC (enabling her to be independent for the first time away from home) to the social life and the friendships she made. Above all, she was trusted to get on with handling highly complex machinery and all these gave her the confidence to develop and maintain a positive mental attitude throughout. 

“My biggest gain from my placement year was finding this role that gives a sweet spot of doing what I enjoy doing and providing a service that betters the world. 

During his placement at ISIS, Sebastian Blower worked in the team responsible for the Chiplr instrument, conducting research into neutron-induced Single Event Effects in Edge AI devices. After graduating from Loughborough University with a MA in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Sebastian began a Junior Fellowship at CERN, working on projecting their large array of superconducting magnets. He then moved to Tokamak Energy where he is a Magnet Instrumentation Engineer.  

Throughout my placement, I developed substantial knowledge of radiation effects in electronics and gained invaluable experience in conducting a radiation test campaign. At Tokamak Energy, I am using my knowledge gained from university, my ISIS placement, and my fellowship at CERN to help development instrumentation for the UK’s latest nuclear fusion reactor technology.”


As such fascinating stories continued to be told, it was noticeable that chairs were continually added to the already substantial audience, with many ISIS staff returning to meet their former students. The event was so warmly received by staff and students alike that we now plan to hold this event as a yearly highlight, providing an opportunity for past alumni to reflect, lend their expertise and offer valuable advice, and for current students to learn and be inspired before returning to their studies, secure in the knowledge of all the possibilities their placement at ISIS has opened up for them. 

Dr Gavin Stenning from ISIS Experimental Operations Division, who organised the event, commented “It was fantastic to see where and what all the Industrial Placement students have gone on to achieve after their placements at ISIS - such a diverse array of talents! It was also rewarding to all ISIS staff involved in the Placement programme to witness the impact they have made on shaping the careers of these young individuals”. 

Contact: Burke, Katie (STFC,RAL,ISIS)