"This trip has definitely reinforced my desire to want to become a scientist. "
3 August 2015
The University of Warwick with the University of Liverpool selected 14 winners from competition entries to win a 4 day trip to Grenoble France to tour two world class science facilities and meet the inspirational scientists who work there to show the female students what life would be like a an international research scientist. The words below are from Francesca Woolley one of the winners on the trip. The project will be launched again in November. If you are interested in the project or being involved in next year’s trip please visit our webpages and register you interest, follow us @XMaSSchoolTrip or email Kayleigh.firstname.lastname@example.org
When I got the email saying I’d won a place on the trip to Grenoble I was so excited.
Visiting the ESRF1 was amazing. We visited the UK beamline XMaS2 and got to see the diffractometer used there.
To enter the competition we’d had to write about the legacy of the Nobel Prize winning crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin. I’d read about the how she’d used x-ray crystallography to determine the structures of penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin. It was great to see the amazing work that is still being done today with x-rays. At XMaS dental research has been carried out looking at how fillings respond to different curing processes. We also learnt about how a seven million year old hominid skull called Toumai had been studied at the ESRF, as well as how scientists at the ESRF had determined the conditions at the centre of the Earth.
One of the main things I took away from the experience was the fact that so many different scientific disciplines can all come together in one facility. It seems there is no scientific field that x-ray techniques and the neutron techniques used at the ILL3, cannot make contributions to.
Visiting the ILL was equally brilliant. We saw lots of the equipment used there, including the cryostats used to keep samples at low temperatures, they have a temperature range between 1.5-320k (-271.650 c to 46.850 c)! We were also shown a video about the research that had been done at the ILL on rechargeable batteries and the factors that affect how long they last. Lots of the work done at the ILL and the ESRF has practical applications like this- the trip showed me just how much science can improve our everyday lives.
There was a nice atmosphere at the ILL and at the ESRF, it felt like a community. Everybody worked together and everybody had lunch together in the canteen - we were lucky to be able to have lunch with the scientists in the canteen too, and it was really interesting hearing about what research they were doing.
The aim of the trip was to encourage young women to consider careers in science. This trip has definitely reinforced my desire to want to become a scientist. Since the trip I have been to a summer school in Edinburgh University studying Maths and Physics, and I am about to go to UCLan to take part in the Future Researchers scheme.
Photo: XMaS Scientist Dr Bouchenoire explaining the how the X-Rays circle the synchrotron at the ESRF.
Michele: During my time in Grenoble I’ve been able to learn about a wide spectrum of science I would’ve never normally been exposed too. The best thing about this trip has been speaking to the female scientists at the ESRF and ILL…. . In conclusion I feel that this trip not only allowed me to become more knowledgeable about science, but also allowed me to meet like-minded people who I was able to strike up genuine friendships with. Most importantly I’ve learnt that being a women in science is not a hindrance but rather an asset. As
Nichelle Nichols writes (former NASA ambassador) ‘science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game’.
Anastasia: The trip made me more confident in pursuing my scientific aspirations as a female scientist and helped me to see that STEM industries were open to females. I am more likely to become a scientist because of this trip.
Amy: It’s been a fabulous opportunity that I feel privileged to have been chosen to go on and I have loved every minute (including the extra ones!)
Misbah: Another part that I found really interesting was when we had the chance to speak to different scientists. I found it amazing how passionate they were about their field of work- even about the things that went wrong- as I do hope to be in their place one day speaking about engineering.
Chloe: It was really helpful for me to see what a life is like as an international scientist and talking to various scientists has helped me to confirm the path that I want to take and showed me the career options that I have.
1 European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) www.esrf.fr
2 X-Ray Material Science (XMaS) The UK material science beamline at the ESRF www.xmas.ac.uk
3 Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL) www.ill.eu