The Impact Report 2017 reviews STFC’s impact on the UK’s science and innovation landscape in the 10 years since our establishment, and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Diamond Light Source, the 40th anniversary of the Central Laser facility, and the 50th anniversary of STFC’s Chilbolton Observatory. It also reports on recent evaluations of the Hartree Centre and the Square Kilometre Array.
Commenting on the report Executive Chair Mark Thomson said “STFC is committed to supporting excellent research and providing access to a full range of world-class research facilities. This report shows how the work we do delivers real economic and societal benefits and raises international recognition of the excellence of our research and our researchers. STFC is responding to major challenges facing society by applying the science and technology we have helped develop. Our research continues to inspire and deliver results that matter shaping the next generation of scientists and innovators.”
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to British biochemist Dr Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution”, alongside Professors Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank. Professor Henderson and STFC have collaborated for the past decade on the development of sensors for the cryo-electron microscopy that he pioneered.
Our large facilities continue to deliver substantial impact. Using the powerful X-rays produced at the Diamond Light Source, a team of scientists from the University of Oxford has successfully mapped the structure of the deadly Ebola virus molecule, and is now exploring new drugs to prevent the disease.
Following the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012, five new particles have been discovered in the past year, thanks to the incredibly sensitive LHCb experiment at CERN. The LHCb confirmed their existence, which has been theorised but never before proven, thereby helping physicists to gain greater understanding of the ‘strong force’ which glues nucleons together, as well as opening up entirely new avenues in particle physics.
Harwell and Sci-Tech Daresbury Campuses currently host more than 300 enterprises and support more than 6,700 jobs, creating the conditions needed for high-tech SMEs to grow. Added to this are the plans in hand to expand the UK ATC’s innovation activities with the opening of the Higgs Centre for Innovation in early 2018, providing business incubation for the growing number of high-tech start-up businesses in Scotland.
The Harwell Campus is due to host two new, Government-funded, EPSRC-supported research organisations: the £100 million Rosalind Franklin Institute, a multi-disciplinary science and technology research centre which aims to help transform understanding of disease and speed up the development of new treatments; and the £65 million Faraday Institution, a major initiative to support research into energy storage.
STFC continues to facilitate the growth of the world-class scientific and technical skills needed to ensure that the UK maintains its international status as a destination of choice for collaborative, interdisciplinary science, technology and innovation. In support of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, STFC is providing funding to nearly 100 additional students through Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), bringing the total number currently supported to more than 850. CDT students will be trained to analyse data from astrophysics, accelerator science, nuclear or particle physics research.