Personalities behind the science

Claire Murray
(Credit: Diamond Light Source)

Claire Murray Beamline Support Scientist,
Diamond Light Source

Claire Murray is a chemist working at one of the UK’s most advanced science facilities: Diamond Light Source. As a Beamline Support Scientist, Claire uses X-rays to study powders on the atomic and molecular scale. We asked Claire about her hopes, achievements & advice. This is her story…

  1. In 1-2 sentences, tell us what you do.

    I'm a chemist working at the particle accelerator called Diamond. My work involves using the bright X-ray beam to understand the atomic structure of powdered materials which can be found in biomimetic materials, space dust, batteries, catalysts, cement and many more novel and exciting materials.

  2. What made you want to become a scientist?

    I studied chemistry at school, and that’s where I first discovered atoms and molecules. The whole world is made up of tiny particles, and I was amazed that the lead in my pencil and the diamond stone in my mother’s ring were the same atom ordered in different ways – carbon! 

  3. What do you hope your work will achieve?

    I hope my work will contribute to improving our knowledge of our world and the materials in it and I also hope that I will inspire others to enjoy science.

  4. Have you any heroes who inspired you?

    This is a very difficult question as there are so many great scientists. However, Kathleen Lonsdale is my heroine as she not only did groundbreaking science, she also did lots of work to engage the public in her science, was the first of many things including first woman to be invited to enter the royal society and first female professor in Chemistry in UCL, but as well as all of this she stood up for her beliefs, for which she ended up in jail!

  5. What advice would you give to kids who enjoy science?

    Be curious! Science only happens because we ask questions. There is an incredible amount of information online and in libraries about science, and you can do lots of interesting reading there. I would also recommend visiting places like science museums, natural history museums and coming to see us at Diamond. We love science and want to share that with you!

  6. If you hadn’t been a scientist, what else would you have liked to be?

    I think I would probably be a baker


Victoria Bennett

Victoria Bennett
(Credit: STFC)

Victoria Bennett Centre for Environmental Data Analysis,
RAL Space

Victoria Bennett heads up the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, in RAL Space. Her expertise in data and computing, and the advanced infrastructure she manages, helps to support researchers working on climate and the environment.

  1. In 1-2 sentences, tell us what you do.

    I'm head of the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis, in RAL Space, where we support environmental researchers with access to data and computing infrastructure.

  2. What made you want to become a scientist?

    My parents were physicists so I was often taken to science museums and events as a child, and there seemed to be a lot of international travel involved, which appealed. I was also relatively good at physics and maths: I found subjects much easier where you could work things out in exams, rather than memorise lots of facts.

  3. What do you hope your work will achieve?

    Enabling scientists to do great work efficiently, making it easier for them to solve their problems, particularly for our climate and the environment.

  4. Have you any heroes who inspired you?

    Not really!

  5. What advice would you give to kids who enjoy science?

    Just keep at it. There are so many different areas of science and types of work you can get into.

  6. If you hadn’t been a scientist, what else would you have liked to be?

    I'm pretty interested in sports psychology, and physiology, so something along those lines might have been interesting.


Roisin Speight
(Credit: STFC)

Roisin Speight Systems Engineer,
RAL Space

  1. In 1-2 sentences, tell us what you do.

    I am a Systems Engineer at RAL Space.  My job is quite varied – it involves the design and testing of instruments that will be launched into space on-board a spacecraft, ensuring that the design meets all of the necessary requirements.

  2. What made you want to become a scientist?

    From a young age, I looked up at the sky in wonder at what was out there and dreamed of traveling to space. When I was a teenager, I watch a documentary on the Apollo Mission to the moon and realised that if I couldn’t go into space then a good alternative would be to help other people go into space. From then on, I decided that I wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer.

  3. What do you hope your work will achieve?

    I hope that my work will help to push the boundaries of what we can achieve, in terms of continuous improvement and greater knowledge for each mission, and for each instrument that is built and launched. Ultimately, I hope that my work can contribute in a small way to the understanding of our planet and the world beyond.

  4. Have you any heroes who inspired you?

    The Apollo team members (engineers as well as astronauts).

  5. What advice would you give to kids who enjoy science?

    If you enjoy science and engineering then don’t be afraid to keep asking questions and to keep trying to find new ways to do things.There are so many different careers that you can pursue, and so many ways that science and engineering help us in our everyday lives. Who knows what the next big discovery will be, and if you have the enthusiasm and commitment then you could be part of it! There’s no such thing as a typical scientist or a typical engineer, so don’t be afraid if you think that you don’t fit the stereotype, a lot of us don’t!

  6. If you hadn’t been a scientist, what else would you have liked to be?

    Alongside science and maths at school, I really enjoyed art and design. So I’d probably have gone down this route.  My A Level art teacher told me: “If you can design a shoe, you can design an aeroplane”. Whilst there may be an element of truth in this I don’t know if many shoe designers go on to become designers of planes or vice versa!

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000