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XMaS comes early for Physics Students

Fourteen upcoming female scientists received an early Christmas present today when they found out they had won an all-expenses paid trip to Grenoble, France.

The competition, managed by the University of Warwick and the XMaS project was aimed at female AS Level Physics students. Rivals were asked to demonstrate their understanding of science in a written assessment.

After thorough deliberation the judges have announced that the winning students from Cardinal Newman Preston, King Edward VI College Nuneaton, King Edward VI Sheldon Heath Academy, King Henry VIII School, Rugby High School for Girls, West Coventry Sixth Form will be heading to France next Easter.

The four-day tour of Grenoble will give the winning students the opportunity to see what life is like as an international scientist. They will have a chance to meet with scientists working across the ESRF facility, as well as scientists from the University of Warwick and Liverpool University who work on the XMaS project.

The trip includes a visit to the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) – the world’s flagship centre for neutron science. They will also visit the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) - the most powerful synchrotron radiation source in Europe.

The students were required to write a two page essay on the legacy of Dorothy Hodgkin, who developed the technique of X-ray crystallography.

Chloe Tomes, one of the winners of the competition, discussed in her essay how Hogkin has impacted her: “The progress Dorothy Hogkin made and the rewards she received as a result are a prime example of how hard work and dedication do pay off. Her resilience and perseverance should be an inspiration not only to aspiring scientists, but to any passionate person who has a strong will to succeed.

‘She is a person that young people should strive to be like, an example for them to follow… Dorothy Hogkin is a figure I aspire to imitate. Researching her has re-inforced the idea that I can achieve great things in science if I persevere, and that I shouldn’t let perceptions and stereotypes of women in science prevent me from fulfilling my potential. Perhaps one day I’ll leave a legacy as great as hers”.

The entries were judged by a panel of experts in the University of Warwick physics department, chaired by Professor Malcolm Cooper who will be accompanying the students on their trip.

Professor Cooper said: “We were incredibly keen to run a competition that would give young female physicists the chance to see what being an international scientist is like. This is about exciting students about the huge career possibilities open to people who study physics. We thought that Dorothy Hodgkin (although strictly speaking a chemist) was a great example of a leading woman in science.

“The quality of the essays submitted was extremely high, and whilst it wasn’t an easy decision to make, we feel we selected truly deserving winners for this trip. We hope that the visit to the ESRF and the ILL will inspire the students to consider a future career in science.”

Ally Caldecote, Ogden School Teacher Fellow in University’s Department of Physics, added: “The competition has not only been a fantastic demonstration of the science knowledge in the area, but also a perfect example of how many of today’s young women promise to be the leading scientists of tomorrow.

‘The skill and dedication of all the entrants made the task of deciding who would go to Grenoble incredibly difficult, but the winners are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to young local scientists”.


Further Information

XMaS which stands for X-ray Materials Scattering is a beamline built jointly by the University of Warwick and the University of Liverpool to allow UK scientists to have direct access to the powerful ESRF x-ray synchrotron.

ESRF - The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is the most powerful synchrotron radiation source in Europe. Each year several thousand researchers travel to Grenoble, where they work in a first-class scientific environment to conduct exciting experiments at the cutting edge of modern science.

A synchrotron is a stadium-sized machine that produces many beams of bright X-ray light. Each beam is guided through a set of lenses and instruments called a beamline, where the X-rays illuminate and interact with samples of material being studied. Many countries operate synchrotrons—there are 10 in Europe—but only four worldwide are similar in design and power to the ESRF.

At more than 40 specialised experimental stations on our beamlines, physicists work side by side with chemists and materials scientists. Biologists, medical doctors, meteorologists, geophysicists and archaeologists have become regular users. Companies also send researchers, notably in the fields of pharmaceuticals, consumer products, petrochemicals and microelectronics.

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Notes to editors

For more information or to request an interview please contact Tom Frew, Communications Manager on: Tel: +44 (0)2476 575 910, Email:

22 December 2014

Further Information:

Tom Frew, Communications Manager on: Tel: +44 (0)2476 575 910, Email: