Meet the Placement Students 2023-24
13 Dec 2023
- Orla Fernie



It’s been a few months since our industrial placement students started their roles. Orla Fernie, Science Communication Placement Student (is placement student-ception a thing?) spoke to some of her colleagues about their roles here.





Hannah: Chemistry student at University of Sussex is working as a Materials Characterisation Laboratory Method Developer at ISIS. 

Elizabeth: Biochemistry student at the University of Southampton is our STEM Public Engagement Student at ISIS. 

Emily: Physics student at University of Loughborough is working in Development in Muon Spin Spectroscopy at ISIS. 

​Luke: Biology Masters Student at the University of Warwick is working at ISIS on Biomolecular Deuteration Method Development. 


What does your role involve? 

Hannah: I am developing sample environments for characterising multilayer thin films for data storage. 

Elizabeth: I create resources and present workshops to a variety of audiences to inspire interest in science and increase accessibility of science as a career. I also communicate the new discoveries here at ISIS. 

Emily: My role involves the development of calorimetric detectors which weight data to apply a preference on higher energy photons. This means I do a lot of building, simulation, coding and data analysis 

Luke: My project is to develop a set of techniques that allow us to grow large cultures of highly deuterated bacteria in the lab, and then extract deuterated biological molecules from them that are appropriate to analyse on the neutron beamlines at ISIS. I also assist in the day-to-day running and maintenance of the biology labs - all the odd jobs that keep a lab running! 


What is your favourite part of your placement so far?

Hannah: I love working with other people in my team and other groups in ISIS. It is nice to pool our knowledge and resources for different goals. 

Elizabeth: The variety and flexibility of my role is the best part. It has allowed me to gain new experiences and learn more about science outside of my degree. 

Emily: My favourite part is the people, but working on the beam lines is a close second! 

Luke: My favourite part of the job is 100% the diversity of things you can get involved in. I’m the kind of person that likes to bounce around between a million different activities and have a broad range of things on the go at any one time, and I feel that’s quite encouraged at ISIS. There are so many different initiatives you can join. If you’re interested in sustainability, EDI, science communication, you can join working groups that meet to discuss these things and let you contribute to meaningful change. There are also frequently lectures and seminars given by facility users or guest researchers on all kinds of different topics – so you can go drink some (free!) coffee while learning about something cool someone’s doing in your field, or you can be brave and go to a lecture that’s completely out of your comfort zone! There are poster-making workshops, opportunities to write newsletters, to help at public engagement events, you can get involved in so much more than what’s in your job description if you fancy that kind of variety. 



Why did you apply to work at ISIS? 

Hannah: I applied as it was a brilliant opportunity to develop my career in a facility at the forefront of scientific development.   

Elizabeth: This placement offered not just a great job, but a strong student community as well  


Emily: I applied to work at ISIS because I was interested in research as an avenue for me and had an interest in particles and accelerator physics. 


Luke: I applied to work at ISIS because I read the job posting, looked up the facility, and immediately decided it was the coolest thing in the world and I needed to be here! Again, I like to have broad scientific interests, and I loved that this position was trying to unify the seemingly very disparate fields of bacterial microbiology and particle physics. I remember it was the deadline for applications when I applied, so I’ve never typed faster in my life! 



What do you hope to gain from your placement? 


Hannah: I hope to have gained a better understanding of the working world as well as finding out my own strengths and weaknesses outside of a 'classroom' setting. 


Elizabeth: I aim to build my network within the scientific community and make the most of every opportunity I have! 


Emily: By the end of my placement, I hope to have gained valuable experiences in my field and have a wide network of people in a field that I would enjoy being in again!  


Luke: Well obviously having a project I can call a success would be lovely, but I think the most important thing for me would be to develop confidence and assuredness as a scientist. Also, I would like to get comfortable in this weird niche between biology and physics that has me kind of bridging a gap and becoming a very versatile and interdisciplinary researcher. And with how kind and supportive everyone is at ISIS, I can feel that it’s happening already.  


Contact: Fernie, Orla (STFC,RAL,ISIS)