Mixing Industry and Academia at Diamond

23 January 2012

Interview with 

Clare Pizzey, Diamond Light Source


Claire Pizzey - Hi, I’m Claire Pizzey, I’m an Industrial Liaison scientist here at Diamond. My role at Diamond is to help companies who want to use the facilities here at Diamond, so I work in a team of scientists who help scientist in Industry access the facilities at Diamond for their own research.

Meera – And what kind of Industries do want to access Diamond?

Claire – A whole range! We have facilities that are for a wide range of different types of science and that matches up with a wide range of different types of Industry, ranging from Pharmaceuticals, through to Catalysis and Chemical companies, through to Engineers and anything and everything inbetween. For example, we’ve done some work with Johnson Matthey who are a Chemicals company, we’ve done some work recently with Heptaris who are a Biotechnology company, pharmaceutical company. Quite often companies are developing new products or they’re trying to understand their existing products better, or they’re looking for new ways to make them even better than they currently are. That’s why they look to find a range of research tools and I think that’s what they find here at Diamond.

Meera - So what perhaps are some of the key parts of your role aiding this liaison between them?

Claire – I am one of a team of scientists and we all cover different subject areas, or technique areas. So my speciality is Scattering techniques, so predominantly small angle x-ray scattering, but I also do some surface scattering measurements. Small angle scattering and surface scattering are techniques that allow you to look at the structure of materials, whether that’s the structure of a bulk sample, or the structure of materials at interfaces. Now those are quite important in a wide range of types of products and different areas, and so that can be applied to different situations. So, my job has a couple of different elements to it; I work closely with my colleagues to try and perform some of the research we do on behalf of companies. So it might be that companies want to come and do their own research, then they come and so their own experiments much like our academic Users do, but in some cases they prefer it if we do the research on their behalf. Then it might be me, or my colleagues, who do the experiments for them, analyse the data and write them a relevant report.

Meera – So that’s quite a nice, varied job role really I guess, you get to see the research side of things, the experimental side, but also the more office based stuff and meeting people as well.

Claire – I really like my job, it suits me very well, I get to meet lots of people, I get to talk about high-level science. I mean I’m not publishing as much anymore, I mean a lot of what we do is under confidentiality agreements, but what I find is that I get to be involved in projects in a wide range of different Industries and different range of, let’s say, end products. It could be drug discovery through to shampoo type formulation, through to some kind of engineering component. And I like being able to see how we can use the techniques at Diamond to help across such a wide range of different research problems.

Meera – And how did you get into this area of work, I guess. So you’re conducting experiments yourself, so you must have quite a strong scientific background?

Claire – Before I joined the Industrial Liaison Team, I was actually a member of the Scientific Team on one of the beamlines here at Diamond. So I did my PhD at the University of Bristol, I was then a Post Doc in the States for a couple of years and then I joined Diamond in 2008 working on the small angle scattering beamline I22.

Meera – And what specific area of science did you focus in on before, say during your PhD and so on?

Claire – Well my PhD was quite interesting. I was industrially sponsored, which has made me really appreciate and enjoy applied science, so I was working on Display Materials. So I was sponsored by Hewlett Packard and we were looking at trying to make novel display materials. Now unfortunately what I was working on in my PhD didn’t end up working and I’m sure it’s not a product, but, it was really interesting and it led me into this field of small angle scattering which is what I’ve done a lot of every since.

Meera – and just lastly really, any tips for people that are enticed by the sound of your job and want to go in that direction?

Claire – Well I think that fundamental training as a scientist is very useful for the job that I do, but I think also, with science you can’t always predict where your career will take you and you have to really start with what you’re interested in and keep doing what you’re interested in and it will find you.

Meera – Some top career advice for all budding scientists courtesy of Diamond from Diamond’s Industrial Liaison Scientist, Claire Pizzey.


Add a comment