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The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering. 

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a different specialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for placement students with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these.

The Crystallography Group at ISIS carries out personal and collaborative research programs using neutron diffraction in various fields of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering. The Crystallography Group is responsible for the operation of 9 neutron diffraction and imaging instruments at the ISIS Facility, which is located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The Group typically supports around 200 experiments per year, across a diverse range of academic and industrial disciplines. These studies investigate the crystal structures of materials and how the atomic arrangement influences their bulk properties.

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

Latest generation detector technologies and ground-breaking experimental methodologies could potentially enable plant-soil scientists to use neutrons to investigate diverse aspects of plant sciences such as mineral uptake, water flow in soil-root systems, phytoremediation, plant physiology, and nutrient transport and accumulation.

After an initial training phase covering the relevant science background and experimental techniques, the post will involve:

  • Sample preparation and characterisation using research greenhouse installed at ISIS
  • In-depth study of structure and composition of plant-soil systems using combined techniques such as X-ray and neutron imaging/diffraction
  • Linking elemental inorganic and organic analysis techniques available at ISIS with the others available at Diamond and CLF (Central Laser Facility)
  • Analysing data using scientific software and statistical techniques
  • Relating these findings to established understanding and new developments in the life sciences fields
  • Writing and editing material for publication and presentations
  • A key part of the project will be the elucidation of the structural basis of the physical properties through detailed analysis of the plant-soil systems and their changes with temperature, humidity and chemical composition.

You will be working in an enthusiastic interdisciplinary research team dedicated to the understanding of plant-soil structure and physical property relationships from a fundamental science viewpoint. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a wide range of interdisciplinary research activities which go beyond the usual boundaries between biology/chemistry/physics, along with developing skills to communicate your research to both the scientific community and industrial sectors.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.


  • At university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry (S)
  • Right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • Background in bioengineering,  bioscience or physics at degree level (S&I)
  • Strong scientific motivation, independent and creative approach to problems (S&I)
  • Happy to work in an active environment with a mixture of lab- and office-based work (S&I)
  • Experience of working in a laboratory environment (S&I)
  • Attention to detail, careful record keeping and the ability to multitask and prioritise effectively (I)


  • Understanding of general concepts in bioengineering / bioscience or physics and interest in developing this (I)
  • Experience in physical property measurements (e.g. electrical and thermal transport properties ) or elemental analysis (XRF) (S&I)
  • Experience in laboratory x-ray diffraction or x-ray imaging (I)
  • Experience in data analysis using e.g. Matlab, Origin or other scientific software (S&I)
  • Experience working with chemicals and understanding of relevant general safety practices (I)

Bioscience Industrial Placement - IRC250977

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More about this vacancy

Number of vacancies: 
Up to 5
Pension scheme (with company contribution)
Degree subjects accepted: 
Science & research