After an online only event in 2020, the 10th annual Cockcroft Institute Postgraduate Conference (CIPGC) was held on 24th November 2021 in the Merrison Lecture Theatre of Daresbury Laboratory. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the conference was held in hybrid format (in person and over Zoom) in order to allow for social distancing between the attendees. An added benefit of this approach is that it allowed for students who are not currently based at CI to attend virtually. As such, 40 postgraduates and lecturers were in attendance, split about evenly between online and in person.
The day began with a welcome from the CI director, Prof. Peter Ratoff. He spoke about the challenges faced by everyone during the pandemic, particularly the lack of informal conversations that often lead to new ideas. He celebrated the amount of world-class research being produced by everyone at CI despite the limitations, drawing particular attention to the research presented at this conference. The welcome was completed by this year’s conference organiser, Dr. Oznur Apsimon, who gave an overview of the plan for the day and introduced the panel members.
For logistical reasons, the conference was limited to oral presentations. There were a total of 16 presentations from students representing all areas of research at CI. The presenters were questioned by the audience and the judging panel composed of academic staff and CI partners. The panel marked each presentation based on their presentation style, technical contents, research context and question handling and awarded prizes for the best three.
Third place prize was awarded to Adam Steinberg from The University of Manchester for the talk titled: “Progress Towards a Fixed Field Accelerator for Ion Therapy”.
Second place prize was awarded to Christopher Shaw from The University of Manchester for the talk titled: “Understanding the electron beam dynamics of a 100 keV photo-electron gun”.
And, finally, first place prize was awarded to Adam Hewitt from the University of Strathclyde for the talk titled: “Optical plasma channel generation for metre-scale plasma accelerators”.
The awards were announced by the panel members and presented by Prof. Ratoff.
This year’s CI postgraduate conference was a welcome break for many students, most of whom have been denied the chance to attend in-person conferences for close to two years now. For those who attended in person, it gave the opportunity to see their colleagues, have a chat over coffee and dinner, and have a laugh. For those who joined in remotely, the hybrid format meant that they did not miss out on much – the video conferencing facilities in the Merrison Lecture Theatre allowed for an almost seamless stream of communication between all participants.