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Published: 20 March 2014

Physics student visits the House of Commons

Abbie Stone, currently on her Professional Training year at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), recently attended a special House of Commons reception.

Held on 25 February, the event marked the 20th anniversary of the Bradford Robotic Telescope and celebrated RAL’s involvement in projects aimed at providing UK schools with access to telescopes. It was hosted by the Rt. Hon. Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee.

Abbie attended the event as part of an outreach team from RAL, helping to demonstrate a series of interactive displays highlighting projects supported by RAL, including the Liverpool Telescope, National Schools Observatory, Faulkes Telescope and the CERN@school project.

During her 12 month Professional Training placement with RAL, Abbie has focused on developing outreach activities for RAL’s space division, using her knowledge of physics to communicate the laboratory’s exciting projects to schools and the wider public.

“It’s been such an interesting and varied placement so far,” says Abbie. “I am learning about a lot of interesting areas of research and particularly how to develop and present these to large audiences. The opportunity to present a display at the Houses of Parliament was fantastic!”

Abbie’s visiting tutor, Professor Stephen Sweeney remarks that “This is a wonderful example of how our undergraduate placement students have the unique opportunity to use and communicate their skills and technical knowledge to a wide community, including in Abbie’s case to policy-makers, research and industry leaders. Such real-world experience is invaluable and illustrates how Surrey’s Professional Training Year helps to nurture highly employable students.”

Abbie attended the House of Commons reception with her colleagues from RAL including Chris Pearson, Hershel SPIRE Observations Team Manager, Ed Polehampton, Hershel SPIRE Spectrometer Scientist, and Barry Kellet, astronomer and research scientist. Also attending was Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (which operates RAL).

Based in Didcot, Oxfordshire, RAL hosts some of the UK’s most advanced facilities including the Central Laser Facility, ISIS (a pulsed neutron and muon source) and Hershel’s SPIRE instrument. It supports the work of over 10,000 scientists and engineers working in the fields of space and astronomy, particle physics, nanotechnology and new materials.

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