Young researchers played a prominent role at the Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2014 held on 20-21 November at the National Centre for Synchrotron Science, highlighting the talent of the next generation of synchrotron scientists.

Australian Synchrotron user meeting 2014
Young researchers played a prominent role at the Australian Synchrotron user meeting 2014

This year, for the first time, the User Meeting was held in conjunction with the New User Symposium. This gave prospective users the opportunity to learn about the synchrotron, neutron and accelerator facilities available under the ANSTO umbrella – and also to see the latest research and developments showcased at our annual meeting.

Around 200 delegates enjoyed excellent plenary presentations from Professor Harald Ade (North Carolina State University, USA) on organic photovoltaic device performance, Dr Bruce Ravel (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) on XAS in the age of insertion devices, and Dr Daniela Stock (Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute) on molecular power converters.

Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2014Contributed presentations addressed the range and breadth of research done at the Australian Synchrotron and other light sources, with one session focusing on work with industry. Another session featured presentations by Australian attendees from the Cheiron School.

The Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Thesis Medal was awarded to Claire Weekley from the University of Adelaide for her thesis on using a combination of XAS and XFM techniques to investigate selenium speciation in biological systems. As Claire is now working at the University of Chicago, she received the award and presented her thesis work via Skype teleconference, with members of the Wilkins family present.

In an exciting new session, the Student Poster Slam, student poster presenters vied to promote their posters in 60 seconds and with only one slide each. The time limit was strictly enforced. The judges had a difficult time deciding the winner, eventually awarding four prizes. First prize went to Roxanne Smith from La Trobe University for her presentation on ‘Targeting DsbD from Neisseria meningitidis for the development of new anti-Neisserial agents’. The first, second and equal-third prize winners were separated by less than 0.05 points (from a maximum of 10).

The main poster prize went to Katie Sizeland from Massey University, NZ, for her poster on the nanostructure of collagen in skin during leather processing. Katie has featured in previous User Meeting poster awards, receiving a special mention in 2012. All student poster competition winners were female this year, which is a great sign for the future of synchrotron science in this region.

Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2014 Alan Easdon and bagpipes at the AS user meeting 2014

Left: lively discussions at the AS User Meeting 2014
Right: Alan Easdon and bagpipes

Following the conclusion of the poster session, delegates were shepherded onto buses to the conference dinner by the unforgettable bagpipe playing of Alan Easdon, one of the Synchrotron’s mechanical technicians, in full highland dress.

The meeting concluded with the User Advisory Committee Town Hall, an open forum for user discussions.

Many thanks are due to the User Advisory Committee led by chair Peter Czabotar, which developed the User Meeting program, and to the Synchrotron’s External Relations team, particularly Karen Siu, for their efforts in organising the event.

In 2015, the Australian Synchrotron will host the Asia Oceania Forum on Synchrotron Radiation Research (AOFSRR) on 25-26 November. AOFSRR will run in conjunction with User Meeting 2015 (26-27 November), with a combined program on 26 November. We look forward to the international flavor this will bring to next year’s User Meeting, as well as the opportunity to hear about the latest developments in our region.