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Science communication: it’s a family affair | 04/12/2014
When it comes to explaining fusion research to the public, few do it better than PhD student Jonathan Shimwell – and he puts it down to his Mum.
Jonathan beat 120 rivals from around Europe to win a ‘World Cup'-style presentation competition at the FuseNet conference in Lisbon last month. FuseNet co-ordinates European fusion education activities and holds an annual networking event for PhD students. On the final day of the 2014 conference, students pitched their research topics to each other, to be judged on how well they communicated the science.
Jonathan modestly claims that his success stems from his tireless attempts to explain his research to his mother.
A student at the University of Sheffield, Jonathan is largely based at CCFE where he is working on ‘neutronics' – the interactions of neutrons with fusion materials. His FuseNet poster was about the use of beryllium in fusion power plants of the future.
The award was the latest in a series Jonathan has won for presenting his work:
- Best poster award for the Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) 2014 event.
- Best poster award for the CCFE PhD showcase event 2014 (with a novel use of an iPad).
- Institute of Physics public engagement grant winner 2013. He was granted £500 to build a bed of nails and organise physics outreach activities!
- Best oral presentation of the Fusenet conference 2013, for which he was awarded the complete set of the Feynman lectures.
Jonathan said: “The FuseNet events are a great opportunity for PhD students in fusion-related research. I've met some fantastic students there. I've been very fortunate with my research and this is largely due to the great group of collaborators and super supervisors. Public understanding of fusion energy will certainly play a key role in its adoption and Mum has nearly grasped the fundamentals of fusion neutronics.”