In this interview we have:
Rupo – Public engagement
Ella - Instrumentation Development
Morgan - Neutron Detector Development
Katie – Science Communication
What have been the highlights of your placement?
Ella- I've really enjoyed meeting so many interesting people and getting to experience work in a large-scale scientific facility. It's also been incredible to see just how inter-disciplinary research can be - and not confined to specific subject areas such as only Chemistry.
Rupo- The people I have met have been some of the strangest, funniest and sweetest people out there. They have helped me become the Rupo I am today, and I think the Rupo a year ago would like this one a lot – so that is one of my highlights. Following from that, the confidence boost has been wonderful! Public engagement involves a lot of talking to members of the public, which can be very daunting. I was so worried ‘what if I mess up and say something wrong?’ Been there, done that – I told some students that Buzz Lightyear went to space and life went on. Don’t get me wrong, it still is scary, but a lot less so! #progress
Morgan- Getting to see behind the curtain on what performing scientific research and development (R&R) actually is The impact you can have on a project as a placement student is larger than I expected it to be and has been a fantastic opportunity.
Katie- Throughout my placement I have been lucky enough to speak to the scientists studying - dinosaur fossils, the radius of a proton, mummified Egyptian lizards, carbon capture, and the effect of cancer on bones. I also got to travel not only to Boulby Mine- the 1.1km deep underground research facility- but also the European Spallation Source in Sweden! From the broad range of science I was able to be involved in, to the incredible people behind each study, my entire year was just bouncing from one amazing experience to the next.
What thing are you most proud of from this year?
Ella - Working outside of 'typical' skill set- most of my work this year has been a big step away from my degree subject (Chemistry) and so I am proud that I have been able to apply my skills to something different. I also went to ECNS (European Conference on Neutron Scattering) in Munich, which was massively out of my comfort zone, but it was a really great experience, so I am very glad I went.
Rupo- Being able to talk about and produce an article about a topic that I am very passionate about. I made illustrations for an article about Black Pioneers in STEM, I will always be thankful to Preeti (my lovely manager) for giving me that opportunity and it will always hold a very special place in my heart. I hope people who see it know that they don’t have to be the first black chemist/biologist/mathematician etc, there are people who came before us and I am honoured to be in a position to highlight them.
Morgan- My contributions towards a large-scale project such as the LoKI beamline we are designing for ESS. I have been responsible for the development of the beam monitors for this year, working with not only my manager but also the wider LoKI team. The trust placed in me to find solutions and work things out has been a fantastic change of pace from university.
Katie- Releasing my own work into the public domain has given me many proud moments this year, especially my illustrations and videos. Developing creative skills within a STEM setting was something I didn’t know was possible before this year. I am also proud of how my confidence has soared over this year. Interviewing the numerous world class researchers, just wandering around this site was incredible… and terrifying to start with… but I have learnt that my curiosity is more important than insecurity.
Has there been anyone/anything that has inspired you this year?
Ella- I think everyone has been inspiring - no two people are the same, and everyone has taken their own different journey to get to working at ISIS.
Rupo- A Miss Katie Burke once said that what caught her eye about biochemistry was how tiny processes can run the world. I have a similar sentiment about ISIS – it shows how the smallest things can have the biggest impacts in how we live now but how we can live better for the future. What’s more inspiring than that? Well, there is something particularly inspiring about seeing someone’s eyes light up with awe and wonder when you tell them about something ace happening at ISIS i.e. the investigation into never melting ice cream!
Morgan- The people I work with. They truly care about the detector physics field and their enthusiasm is contagious.
Katie- The women. Don’t get me wrong, the men here are great and at the top of their field, but the women here are truly incredible and inspiring for all young women starting out in STEM. From a 70-year-old engineering retiree who fought her way up the management ladder, to the female scientists currently running and supporting experiments equipped with their PhD’s, passion for work and a genuine life at home. It is wonderful to see that any uncertainty (subconscious or otherwise) is entirely unfounded.
Has the year fulfilled your expectations?
Ella- On all counts - yes. I was not completely sure what to expect when I joined ISIS a year ago, but my time here has been amazing - both on a work front, and socially. I've been able to gain valuable experience of working within a facility such as ISIS, but I've also made friends for life.
Rupo- Surpassed! I thought it would be good, but I didn’t think it would be that good. Dr Seuss was right ‘Oh the places you’ll go… You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!’ And, Oh Boy, I really did see some Great Places!
Morgan- fulfilled and exceeded my expectations.
Katie- Absolutely! This year has given me incredible experiences, invaluable lessons and allowed me to see what working life can be like, so I have something to look forward to after uni.
How has this year influenced your future career plans?
Ella- I'm still not sure what I'd like to do with my career, but the neutron scattering community is definitely one that I could see myself working within in the future. This year has even made me consider the possibility of doing a PhD, which was a thought that hadn't crossed my mind previously! All yet to be decided...
Rupo- Turns out, I really like being paid to tell people science is cool (amongst other things), so if I can continue to do that for the foreseeable future, that would be lovely. In the grand scheme of things, I want to change the perception of science for more people (hoping that I’ve started this journey over the course of my placement).
But I still hold out hope for the Nobel Prize, I have a perfect spot for it next to my ISIS Paperweight!
Morgan- It has definitely confirmed I would like a career in scientific R&D. I think the next step after completing my integrated masters will be a PhD.
Katie- It has inspired me to pursue what I love to do, shown me that anything is possible and that no one’s career is comparable to anyone else’s.
What advice do you give to new placement students?
Ella- Make the most of the opportunities here - go to the talks, conduct tour guiding, help out on an open day, join a rounders team etc. Your time working here will be amazing - you'll get to do really interesting things with incredible people, but all the 'extras' will really make your year here incredible. And most of all, make the most of your time here - it will fly by.
Rupo- Another Dr Seuss quote coming up for this one – with a Rupo edition: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” So be yourself, be kind and be ready for the time of your life.
Morgan- Don't be afraid to ask questions! Everyone here is dying to talk about what they do.
Katie- Allow your own creativity, initiative, and personality to come with you. You aren’t here to be a robot following orders, bring your ideas to the table and they will always be heard.
A very warm welcome to all our new placement students, we wish you well for the year ahead!