Diamond's always different for Claire Pizzey
No two days are ever the same at Diamond – the UK’s synchrotron light facility. Laboratory News caught up with industrial liaison scientist Dr Claire Pizzey to find out why
The Diamond Light Source is used by scientists and industry from across the globe to advance knowledge – their brilliant beams of synchrotron light are high intensity, sharp, tuneable and enable scientists to probe the world around us at the atomic scale.
Dr Claire Pizzey, an industrial liaison scientist, is responsible for applications of X-ray scattering techniques at Diamond providing scientific and technical support to facility users and establishing and running the Non Crystalline Diffraction data collection and analysis service.
She has a BSc in Chemistry and a PhD in Physical Chemistry, both from the University of Bristol. Her doctoral research focused on Colloid Science. Following her PhD, Claire was a post-doctoral research associate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Claire joined Diamond in 2008 as a Support Scientist on the Non-Crystalline Diffraction beamline. She was responsible for physical science experiments with particular emphasis on experiments relating to liquid crystals, colloids and some polymer systems. She joined the Industrial Liaison group earlier this year.
You’re an industrial liaison scientist - what does this mean?
I’m one of a small team of scientists dedicated to helping industry access the facilities available at Diamond. Our job is to provide scientific consultancy to find solutions to real world scientific problems from help in determining the best experimental approach right through to conducting the experiments and analysing the data if required, whether for a single sample or hundreds. Diamond is a state-of-the-art research facility with very well equipped laboratories and my job is to help industry to access all of these facilities whether they’ve never heard of a synchrotron before or if are an experienced user.
How did you get into this area?
A mixture of luck and accident I suppose! Although I started off on a fairly academic career path (PhD and post-doc), my PhD was industrially sponsored (Hewlett Packard) which gave me a taste of industrial research and I’ve maintained an interest in applied science ever since. When I first started at Diamond, I was a member of the team responsible for running one of our scientific instruments and now as member of the Industrial Liaison group I’m able to concentrate on applying the techniques I am very familiar with to address industrially relevant problems.
Could you tell us a bit about the research you’re working on at Diamond?
One of the great benefits of my role is working with companies solving problems in a really wide range of research areas, from medical and life sciences through to engineering, nanotechnology and new materials. One day I might be discussing with a pharmaceutical company about determining the structure of proteins in solution and the next day I could be doing an experiment to investigate the oxidation state of a metal catalyst under working conditions. The cutting-edge scientific facilities available at Diamond enable us to probe the structure, chemical environment and texture of materials (ranging from atoms and molecules to nanoparticles and even biological cells). These experiments can be performed under realistic conditions and on very fast timescales so often the only limits are your imagination…and the number of hours in the day!
What do you like about working at Diamond?
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work at the cutting-edge of scientific research and on systems which have a direct impact on our everyday lives and I find that a very rewarding experience. Diamond is a unique facility in the UK, but what really makes it special is the people – we have over 400 scientific and technical staff from all over the world and attract around 2,000 visiting scientists every year. This means that there is always an interesting experiment taking place, many of which simply can’t be done without access to facilities like Diamond.