Published on 11 August 2015
A great opportunity to carry out research alongside world-renowned scientists has given two University of the Sunshine Coast students the inspiration to motivate the next generation of classroom scientists – and take on further study of their own.
Science Education students Josiah Bishop, 23, and Raymart Walker, 19, travelled with USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Roland De Marco to the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne recently as part of Professor De Marco’s ongoing research collaboration with the University of Geneva.
A synchrotron is a massive machine (of similar size to the Melbourne Cricket Ground) that can accelerate electrons and deflect them through magnetic fields to create extremely bright light, which is then channelled down beamlines to experimental workstations where it is used for research.
The undergraduates said the opportunity to use the cutting-edge technology has had a huge influence on them as science teachers of the future.
“I knew that synchrotron’s existed but I wasn’t aware that there was one in Australia,” Josiah Bishop of Redcliffe said. “So to not just visit the facility but actually assist in research and run a $221-million was the absolute best experience.”
“I’m actually working in a teacher aide role at Mueller College at Redcliffe so I’ve been able to draw on the experience in front of a classroom already, which is an awesome feeling.”
Fellow student Raymart Walker, of Mountain Creek, said working in the authentic laboratory environment had heightened his love of physics and strengthened his interest in chemistry.
“I really never expected for something like this to be offered to undergraduate students from a regional university, so we’re totally aware and appreciative of how amazing an opportunity this was,” he said.
Professor De Marco said the experience was enriching for everyone who took part in the five days of beam time on the soft X-ray end station at the synchrotron facility.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough the outstanding work done by Josiah and Raymart and how greatly they impressed the beamline scientists and my accompanying collaborator from the University of Geneva,” Professor De Marco said.
“These students had virtually no experience in this field. However, they had international scientists in awe of their impeccable experimental skills, raw ability and keenness to learn.”
Both students said the experience had inspired them to give serious consideration to further study at USC.
“This has fuelled my love of science in a way that I didn’t think was possible and I’m really keen to pursue a research career now but in a way that I can still utilise my education degree too,” Raymart said.
— Megan Woodward