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Ben Shepherd

Daresbury Laboratory

I did an MPhys in Physics with Astrophysics and thought long and hard about doing a PhD, before deciding to get a job in the 'real world'. However, I was determined to look for a job that related to my degree. This was much easier said than done - I wrote quite a few applications, and went to a handful of interviews. Finally I got two job offers at the same time! So now I am working at Daresbury Laboratory near Warrington. It is home to the Synchrotron Radiation Source, which produces X-rays and UV light, for use in a range of experiments on protein crystallography, magnetic spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Synchrotron radiation was well known to me since it is also responsible for most of the radio emission of astrophysical objects in the universe.

I am part of the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC), which is working (amongst other things) on DIAMOND, a new 3rd-generation synchrotron light source to be built near Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) near Oxford. Diamond will produce pinpoint ultra-violet and X-ray beams of exceptional brightness. These highly focused light beams will enable scientists and engineers to probe deep into the basic structure of matter and materials, answering fundamental questions about everything from the building blocks of life to the origin of our planet.

My task is to design insertion devices - arrays of permanent magnets that can be placed in the straight sections of particle accelerators to produce highly concentrated synchrotron light. The work here is fascinating, and it is a very relaxed environment. I am really pleased to be able to do something so exciting at the forefront of science, where I can benefit so much from the knowledge I acquired at Leeds.