For two weeks in March, Cambridge became abuzz with excitement as the 2017 Cambridge Science Festival captivated audiences young and old across the city. This was a chance for the University of Cambridge SPIE Student Chapter (CUSPIE) to reach out to the general public and share our love of optics, photonics and general science.
On Saturday 25th March, our advisor, Dr. Sarah Bohndiek launched our activities with an exciting talk, ‘Shedding Light on Cancer’, in which she described the work of VISIONLab, her Cambridge research group, in manipulating light to detect cancer sooner.
Following this exciting talk, guests were invited to get hands on with some demonstrations at our stall, ‘What is the Colour of Cancer’, where Sarah was available to answer further questions.
Manned by real scientists from both CUSPIE and VISIONLab, the stall demonstrated the equipment we use to manipulate light, and gave the audience a chance to engage with the real researchers.
Polarising glasses were used to demonstrate the polarisation of light and diffraction gratings were used to show splitting of light into its constituent colours, much to the attendees’ delight!
And there was plenty of time for attendees to ask questions about the research going on right now.
The stall was another great success for CUSPIE and VISIONLab, gathering great feedback:
“The "What is the colour of cancer" was fascinating and the person was really engaging.”
“What is the colour of cancer was so cool and the person hosting it was really engaging and passionate.”
We hope to see many people return to our future events.
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This Monday (6th of March 2017) marked yet another successful event for SPIE Student Chapter Cambridge (CUSPIE). Our guest speaker, Ms. Alaina G. Levine from Arizona, USA was sponsored by SPIE, The Winton Programme for Physics of Sustainability and CamBridgeSens (EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies and Applications) to visit Cambridge and take part in a day full of exciting events.
The day kicked off with an enjoyable and highly interactive workshop titled ‘Transitioning from a PhD into the real world!’ where Alaina provided the attendees with detailed tips on how to probe self-interests and identify jobs that bring you ‘joy’. Specifically targeted towards PhD students, this workshop provoked discussion around transitioning out of academia into alternative careers.
Following this, Alaina was kind enough to provide one-to-one consulting sessions to nine lucky students who had signed up in advance. Each had 15 minutes of personal consulting with Alaina jam-packed full of useful tips and discussion tailored to them.
Through this event, CUSPIE was yet again successful in providing a platform for people across the world to connect. One of the students completing their PhD with the Winton Programme of Physics of Sustainability commented ‘I have had my CV analysed and criticised by a lot of people, but no one with her calibre. All the feedback was extremely useful!’
The afternoon came to a close with an exciting seminar, ‘How to land your dream career in science? – Networking for Nerds!’
Alaina’s unique, often comedic, style of delivery really stuck a chord with the audience of around 60 people, but never distracted from her depth and wealth of knowledge and advice.
In the concluding 30 minute Q&A session, Alaina’s interaction with the audience continued to deliver yet more wisdom as she enthusiastically established that scientists (or scientists in making) are AWESOME and could get AWESOMER if they brushed up on their networking skills.
These networking skills were put to the test in a food and wine reception. Guests mingled with Alaina and other like-minded attendees.
After about six hours of inspiring talks and discussions, CUSPIE committee members along with a few invited guests had the honour of dining with Alaina. Over delicious Thai food, we discussed ways to network, build connections and develop the student chapter further. CUSPIE committee is very grateful to our sponsors and SPIE for this wonderful opportunity.
Finally, we would like to extend an enormous thank you to Alaina for an incredible day. Her passion and enthusiasm was infectious and will surely have inspired attendees to consider their personal and professional development. Thank you Alaina!
CUSPIE will soon be organising an Alumni and Students networking session to engage students at various levels. Watch this space for more news!