Every year, ISIS holds two meetings for PhD students who use neutrons and muons in their research: one standalone conference and one as an extra day to the UK neutron and muon science user meeting (NMSUM). These meetings offer a chance for them to present their work in a relaxed environment, as well as meet each other and get new ideas about how to use the range of techniques available at ISIS.
Because of the pandemic, the last in-person student meeting had been two years ago. This year we offered a live stream of the talks, as well as attendance at RAL. The students were obviously keen to see each other as we had over 70 sign up, with fewer than ten of these attending remotely.
The meeting began on Thursday afternoon with and introduction to the new ISIS director and an overview of ISIS student activity from Philip King, followed by student talks and a poster session. It was definitely worth waiting for; the standard of the talks was extremely high, and the lively discussions around the posters were great to see.
For the conference dinner, we walked over to the new Harwell Campus street food offering, DiSH, and were lucky to not get rained on during the walk there! The students enjoyed the atmosphere there, and there was some friendly competition during a quiz that was expertly designed by our ISIS industrial placement students.
The next morning saw further talk and poster sessions followed by a careers panel featuring previous ISIS PhD students who are now working both inside and out of academia. The students asked lots of great questions: I think this session could have gone on all day!
We set up an online voting system so that the students could choose for themselves which talk and poster were the best: we ended up with some very close competition and awarded three joint poster prize winners along with a highly commended talk prize and an overall talk prize winner.
The event also has a prize for best question: the aim of this is to encourage the audience to engage with the speakers. I'm not sure we needed it – there were some extremely insightful questions asked across the two days, with students engaging with talks from a wide range of disciplines.
The feedback from the event has been very positive, with students saying:
“Meeting was organised really well, interesting topics for talks and posters & lovely to see everyone so engaged and interested."
“Great format and it was lovely that it was a student based meeting so it felt less intimidating. Also, the careers panel were great and I'd love to see this continued in future."
The next student meeting will be on Monday 25 April, as part of NMSUM, at the University of Warwick.
Best talk: Zac Amato
Highly commended talk: Innes McClelland
Best poster: Struan Simpson, Siobhan Tobin, Andy Sode Anker
Best question: Aimee Colemen, Ben Gade
ISIS student meeting organising committee: Rosie de Laune, Jeff Armstrong, Kun Ma and Gabriel Perez Garcia.