A recipe for successful science

Synchrotrons and free electron lasers (FELs) look stunning. The experimental equipment is state-of-the-art, which makes being a light source user both exhilarating and nerve racking. A key ingredient for success is excellent support from the beamline staff on the experimental station you are using. As Kuda Jakata, a postdoc who supports users at the ESRF in Grenoble, France, says in this #LightSourceSelfie, “The light sources community, they are very helpful people and they actually want to push boundaries and so they work hard and they do a lot of really interesting science.”

#LightSourceSelfies Monday Montage!

That 1st light source experiment: The best way to understand is to experience!

Sae Hwan Chun, beamline scientist and condensed matter physicist at the PAL XFEL

Sae Hwan Chun is a beamline scientist and condensed matter physicist at the PAL XFEL is South Korea, one of the seven XFEL facilities in the Lightsources.org collaboration. Sae Hwan is able to research ultra-fast and dynamic phenomena in condensed matter by using the femtosecond X-ray pulses that XFELs generate.

In his #LightSourceSelfie, recalling his first synchrotron experiment at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), Sae Hwan said, “I thought that I understood how to do the experiment, but actually doing it was a completely different matter. It was like even though you pass a written exam for a driving license your mind goes blind to when you actually drive a car for the first time. This first day gave me a lesson that you should experience something if you want to understand it.”

Light source users don’t have to be experts

Aeriel Murphy-Leonard, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, was studying magnesium alloys in graduate school when she first heard about synchrotron sources. Aeriel’s first thought was that a synchrotron sounded like something out of a Marvel film!

In her brilliant #LightSourceSelfie, Aeriel describes how she was able to conduct her first experiment at CHESS, the synchrotron at Cornell University in New York. Having recovered from the initial alarm that the synchrotron is located under the university’s soccer fields, Aeriel had an amazing experience and describe the wonderful support she received, and expertise she gained, during this and subsequent user visits to CHESS. Aeriel says, “One thing I’ve learned that’s very valuable about CHESS, or just synchrotrons in general, is that you don’t have to be an expert. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I would like to give in this video is that you do not have to be an expert. I had no idea what it was, did not even understand, and I was able to learn from the beamline scientists and what I’ve always enjoyed about CHESS as a facility is that it’s very educational focused. You can come in not an expert and leave with a lot of expertise.”

Aeriel is passionate about supporting young professionals, particularly those from minority groups. She shares her experiences in her lifestyle blog (https://aerielviews.blog/), which is aimed at young professionals, particularly those that are in graduate school or professional school.

Preparing yourself for setbacks

Experimental time at light sources is precious. It can also be unpredictable as Ro-Ya Liu, a Beamline Scientist at NSRRC in Taiwan, discovered during her first synchrotron experiment at the Photon Factory in Japan. As setbacks go it was a pretty dramatic one, as you’ll discover in this #LightSourceSelfie. Quinn Carvalho, a PhD student at Oregon State University and a user at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) in California, advises light sources users to, “Go into anything with a healthy mentality of optimism, but a realistic sense of what will go wrong. Things will go wrong and you will have to overcome those, so being able to face failure and embrace it and learn from it is much more valuable than fearing it, I think.”

A scientist’s life: At the edge of what is known

Quinn Carvalho is a PhD student at Oregon State University and a user at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California. Quinn and his colleagues are using spectroscopic techniques to develop design strategies for electrocatalysts that will provide the resources we need for a carbon-free world. In his #LightSourceSelfie, Quinn shares what excites him about his research and his experiences on the support provided by beamline staff at the ALS. Reflecting on what drives him as a research scientist, Quinn explains, “That moment when you realise that you’re the first person to observe, measure and describe a physical phenomenon is one of the greatest sensations I’ve experienced as a professional and something that motivates me still to this day.”

Life in synchrotron radiation research

Including the day an earthquake interrupted my beam time!

Today’s #LightSourceSelfie is brought to you by Ro-Ya Liu, Assistant Research Scientist at NSRRC, operators of the Taiwan Light Source and the Taiwan Photon Source. Ro-Ya’s research area is focused on probing the electronic structure of novel materials by using angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy. She was inspired by her Master’s supervisor whose eyes shone as he presented his new data on the quantum well state of ultra-high silver thin film. Ro-Ya wanted to experience this spark and purpose in life. After a shaky first experiment (literally shaky due to an Earthquake!), Ro-Ya has done just that during a career that has already involved working at the Taiwan Light Source, the Photon Factory, Spring 8, HiSOR, Elettra, the Advanced Light Source and Diamond Light Source. Ro-Ya is still learning from colleagues including beamline engineers and users coming to conduct experiments at the Taiwan Light Source. Their deep knowledge helps Ro-Ya in her beamline manager role. She is looking to dig deep to acquire this knowledge and continue to find great purpose in her life in synchrotron radiation research.

Collaboration: a watchword for the light source community

Scientists Nina Perry and Nina Vyas, from Diamond Light Source (https://diamond.ac.uk – the UK’s synchrotron), along with SaeHwan Chun, scientist at the PAL-XFEL (https://pal.postech.ac.kr/paleng/ – the Free Electron Laser in South Korea) talk about a theme that is common to all light sources around the world, and indeed to science and all its associated disciplines. Cooperation and collaboration, and their benefits for scientists’ wellbeing as well as the science, are highlighted in this #LightSourceSelfie video.

Nina Perry & Ninya Vyas, on Beamline B24 at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility

Photon Science: A career of creativity & intriguing questions awaits

Markus Ilchen is a physicist at FLASH, the world’s first short wavelength free-electron laser. FLASH is located at DESY in Hamburg. The DESY campus is a ‘small city’ of science offering a versatile and vibrant culture for a wide variety of professions and scientific disciplines. In his #LightSourceSelfie, Markus gives you a peek into some of the highlights on campus, describing some of its history and how FLASH’s unique capabilities will help him to study the chirality (handedness) of molecules. Contributing to solving the mystery behind what chirality does in our universe, drives him and his colleagues.

For those starting out in photon science, Markus has this advice, “Enjoy the great choice! But still of course find your sweet spot. Find your place where you have fun; where you can be yourself; where you can work with nice people; where you are working on intriguing questions; where you can be creative and enjoy the freedom of science in a way that, for one, it keeps you up at night but in a good way.”

World changing science

Marion Flatken is a 3rd year PhD student working in the Department Novel Materials and Interfaces for photovoltaic solar cells led by Prof. Dr. Antonio Abate, at HZB.

In her #LightSourceSelfie, Marion describes the perovskite solar cell research she is undertaking and reflects on the opportunity light sources present to scientists.  She says,

“We are really having the chance to work in a unique environment and to use the knowledge and the facilities and the resources that we have to really change the world literally.”

Marion Flatken’s #LightSourceSelfie

Beamline filming location: HZB ASAXS-Instrument, FCM-beamline at PTB laboratory (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt), BESSYII

Beginning your light source journey

Scientists who use synchrotrons such as the Advanced Light Source in California and CHESS at Cornell University, along with staff scientists at Free Electron Lasers in South Korea (the PAL-XFEL) and California (LCLS at SLAC), reflect on how they felt the first time they used a light source facility to conduct research experiments.  The expertise available from the staff scientists who work on the beamlines is also highlighted in this #LightSourceSelfie video.

#LightSourceSelfies: Dedication to single crystals

Dohyun Moon is a Beamline Senior Scientist at the Pohang Light Source II in South Korea.  His main work is supporting users visiting the facility for supramolecular crystallography experiments.  Dohyan’s research involves characterising the structure of single crystals using crystallography.  He is constantly researching the inside of unknown materials and getting good singe crystals challenges and motivates him every day.  Hear him talk about his light source journey, aspirations for the future and advice for those considering entering into the realm of light sources. 

#LightSourceSelfies – Light Source scientists are innovators

Kathryn Janzen is an Associate Scientist and User Experience Coordinator at the Canadian Light Source. During her #LightSourceSelfie, Kathryn reflects on the light source community saying “The contacts between light sources are really important and everyone is very interested in sharing ideas. We’re also really interested in innovating and finding new ways to use the light source and finding new applications for old techniques.”

#LightSourceSelfies Monday Montage – Learning

This #MontageMontage features Kathryn Janzen from the Canadian Light Source (CLS), Nina Vyas and Nina Perry from Diamond Light Source, and Aerial Murphy-Leonard, who conducts experiments at CHESS.  Learning through experience is the best way when it comes to experiments at synchrotrons and Free Electron Lasers.  As Nina Vyas reflects, “It is very nice to learn new things and its quite easy to pick up lots of new skills in science.”

Kuda’s #LightSourceSelfie

Kudakwashe Jakata is a Post-Doc in Materials Science at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.  He first experienced the ESRF as a user and reflects on the challenges of his early tomography experiments, what gets him up every day and a future where African scientists can conduct experiments at a light source based in Africa. 

#LightSourceSelfies brings a face to science  

Much of today’s scientific advances in a wide range of fields including health, climate change, advanced materials, agriculture, and cultural heritage depend on experiments carried out at light source facilities around the world.

Now, scientists and engineers representing 25 large-scale science facilities from across the global light source community have contributed to a new video campaign to share insights and inspire all those with a curiosity for science and careers connected to synchrotrons and Free Electron Lasers (FELs).

#LightSourceSelfies, which launches today on World Science Day for Peace & Development, features scientists and engineers who hold a range of positions at light sources located across Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America. The campaign also includes scientists who use synchrotrons and FELs to carry out experiments that lead to important discoveries in areas such as health, the environment, agriculture, new materials, planetary science, palaeontology, and cultural heritage.

Our #LightSourceSelfies campaign kicks off with 5 scientists reflecting on what is most inspiring and motivating about their work. Light sources are based across the world and in this video you’ll hear from scientists connected to the Advanced Light Source in California, the Canadian Light Source, FLASH at DESY in Germany, the ESRF in France, and ALBA in Spain.

Kudakwashe Jakata is a Post Doc in Materials Science at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, and is featured in the campaign’s first video. Describing his work in computer tomography, he says, “It is a very challenging environment and that’s what gets me up every day because I know that there will be lots of things to solve and most of the time new things that I’ve not seem before.” Kudakwashe is from South Africa and adds, “I am really looking forward to the African Light Source coming on board at some point. There has already been a lot of work done on it and a lot of people are working behind the scenes to get it going. I’m looking forward to the science that will be done by Africans at African light sources.”  

Kathryn Janzen is based at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) in Saskatchewan and is also featured in the first video for #LightSourceSelfies. She is an Associate Scientist at CLS’s Canadian Macromolecular Crystallography Facility (CMCF) and User Experience Coordinator. Describing her work, Kathryn explains, “The part that is really inspiring is just seeing how these important experiments that are going on at the synchrotron can really help improve things for everyone in our society.”

During this three-month long campaign, which will run on the Lightsources.org website, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, Kudakwashe and Kathryn will be joined by 27 colleagues from across the light source community. Throughout the summer of 2021, #LightSourceSelfies participants filmed themselves in a variety of locations including synchrotrons, FELs, home laboratories, and outside amongst nature. Countries with light sources who are featured in the campaign include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, and the US.

Everyone involved gave personal perspectives on a range of questions including:

  • What inspires you to do your job and your research?
  • What is the best thing about using/working at a light source?
  • How would you describe the light source community to those about to enter it?
  • How do you survive night shifts?

Sandra Ribeiro, Chair of Lightsources.org and Communications Advisor at the Canadian Light Source, commented “Synchrotrons and FELs offer amazing training and job opportunities for those interested in a variety of career paths including science, engineering, computer science, technical roles, science communication, procurement, finance, HR, and legal. Our new video campaign showcases people involved in building and running the amazing facilities that deliver the huge amount of science that happens at light sources around the world. #LightSourceSelfies will give viewers a real sense of what it is like to work within the light source community. We are hugely grateful to everyone who filmed selfie videos for us and hope this campaign will raise awareness about the many exciting career opportunities available at light sources around the globe.”

To follow the #LightSourceSelfies video campaign, visit https://lightsources.org/about-2/lightsourceselfies/

To view current vacancies at synchrotrons and FELs within Lightsources.org, visit our careers page

Sneak preview of #LightSourceSelfies video campaign!

Scientists and engineers from 25 large-scale science facilities across the global light source community have contributed to a new video campaign to inspire and inform all those with a curiosity for careers connected to synchrotrons and Free Electron Lasers (FELs).

#LightSourceSelfies, which launches on World Science Day for Peace & Development (Wednesday 10th November), features scientists and engineers who hold a range of positions at light sources located across Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America.  The campaign also includes scientists who use synchrotrons and FELs to carry out experiments that lead to important discoveries in areas such as health, the environment, agriculture, new materials, planetary science, palaeontology, and cultural heritage.

Here’s a sneak preview ahead of the campaign’s official launch on Wednesday 10th November 2021.