Released By: Australian Synchrotron
Release Date: Tue 18 November 2008
Ten young Australian researchers have just returned from an intensive ten-day training course at the SPring-8 synchrotron facility in Hyogo, Japan.
The Cheiron Synchrotron School provided the researchers with a comprehensive and practical background in the basics of synchrotron science, says Anand Chandra, a PhD student from the University of South Australia's Applied Centre for Structural and Synchrotron Studies.
"The knowledge I gained from the course will help me design my experiments more effectively," Anand explains.
As a result of things I learnt in Japan, I now have new ideas to apply to my research into copper activation and acidic leaching processes on the surface of minerals like pyrite."
Anand says the course opened his eyes to the uses of different beamlines.
"As part of the course I took part in a practical session on infrared spectroscopy and imaging. To date I have used x-rays to examine the surfaces of minerals but through my discussions with the beamline scientist running the practical session I realised that I could use infrared imaging in my studies too," he says.
He now plans to apply for beamtime on the Australian Synchrotron's infrared beamline.
For some students, the school was a crash course in learning the language of synchrotron science.
"As a biochemistry and chemistry major, the school has provided me with a framework on synchrotron science and its applications," says Monash student Radha Maganti.
She is using the synchrotron's infrared beamline to study oocytes and IVF.
The failure rate of in vitro fertilisation is around 69%. We are using the synchrotron to look at oocytes, or egg cells, from humans and mice to try to understand what can contribute to this high failure rate," Radha says.
She's also interested in the eggs of liver flukes - parasites that cause several nasty diseases.
"Understanding what makes the eggs viable could lead to better ways to control parasites.
"Attending the Cheiron School has consolidated my understanding of synchrotron science and how I can apply different techniques to my research."
With students from around the world enrolled in the course and an international panel of expert lecturers, the Australians had ample opportunity to network, says Patryck Allen, from the University of Sydney's School of Chemistry.
"It was really useful to meet people in similar fields who might be interested in collaborations in the future," he says.
It's a view shared by Daryl Howard, a scientist in the Australian Synchrotron's microspectroscopy beamline team.
"I met present and future users of the Australian Synchrotron and scientists from around the Asia-Oceania region and hopefully these contacts will result in fruitful collaborations," he says.
Five of the ten students from Australia who went to the summer school were funded by the Australian Synchrotron, while the other five were supported by grants from the Japanese organisers. The Cheiron Summer School is held annually by the Asian-Oceania Forum for Synchrotron Radiation Research for young scientists and engineers interested in pursuing careers in synchrotron science.