ESRF announces winner of 2013 Young Scientist Award


Simon A.J. Kimber has been awarded the 2013 Young Scientist of the Year Award for his outstanding work on X-ray pair distribution function techniques (PDF) and their application to nanostructured materials.

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X-ray PDF is a diffraction technique which enables the scientist to measure in great detail the entire scattering signal from a sample. PDF helps to characterise the structure of matter and, ultimately, to better understand the often highly complex technological or scientific properties of the material.

Find out more about Pair Distribution Function analysis.

For Harald Reichert, ESRF Director of Research "Simon's research provides a particularly nice demonstration of the usefulness of synchrotron radiation for the study of materials at the border between order and disorder. These materials are not only interesting for their often surprising properties but especially for their broad range of real-world applications."

Prize awarded at the 23rd ESRF Users Meeting

On behalf of the Users’ Organisation, Simon was presented the award by Federico Boscherini at the 23rd ESRF Users Meeting in Grenoble, on 6th February 2013.
Simon was honoured to have won the prize and thanked all members of ID15, “and especially Marco Di Michiel, for their part in my obtaining this prize and for providing such a fertile scientific environment.” 

Since 2006 Simon has published 24 papers in high profile physics and chemistry journals and is regularly invited around the world to give talks on his speciality. Last summer, he addressed the importance of collaboration for the future of materials science at the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen.

View the 10-minute video of the Materials of Grand Challenges talk at Arken.



At the plenary session of the Users’ Meeting, Simon gave a compelling and widely followed presentation on the analysis of nanoparticle structure using PDF techniques.

Science as a rebellion!

Simon was born in Dundee, Scotland, and schooled at Madras College St. Andrews. He claims he only got interested in science “as a rebellion against my linguistically-oriented family!” He graduated from the School of Chemistry in Edinburgh in 2007 after presenting his PhD on “Spin and Orbital Ordering in Ternary Transition Metal Oxides”. It was only at this later stage in his vocation that Simon “realised that you could have an academic career without it meaning sitting in a chair and teaching students. I love change, travelling abroad and doing new things – science could offer me all that!”  

Simon, aged 31, first visited the ESRF in 2004 during a summer project at the neighbouring institute, ILL. “I remember thinking then that I’d like to live in Grenoble one day.” He successfully steered his career back to the ESRF and took up a position as post doctoral researcher on ID15, the high energy beamline, in 2010.

“I love working at the ESRF. One of the strengths of a central facility like we have here in Grenoble is that you can work with instruments worth millions and try out science of all kinds.” Simon particularly appreciates that the ESRF encourages collaboration between the different beamlines and that scientists can exchange and explore techniques outside their own discipline.

Organisation of the Young Scientist Award

Each year since 1995, the Young Scientist Award (YSA) is presented to a scientist aged 35 or under in recognition of outstanding work carried out at the ESRF. The ESRF Users Organisation chooses a chairperson for the YSA. The chairperson then forms a selection committee composed of distinguished scientists whose expertise covers the most important areas of synchrotron science. The panel calls for nominations from institutes around the world and evaluates nominees on the basis of the following criteria:

•    Significant and personal contribution to either a novel method or technique, or to the advancement of a particular field based on ESRF measurements
•    Quality and quantity of publications, conference contributions and responsibilities
•    Importance of the specific field for synchrotron science research

For the 2013 YSA the selection committee was chaired by Prof. Federico Boscherini from the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna, Italy.

The panel was composed of the following members:
•    Prof. Heinz Amenitsch, Graz University of Technology (Austria)
•    Prof. Daniel Chateigner, Université de Caen (France)
•    Dr. Michele Cianci, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Hamburg (Germany)
•    Prof. Andrew Dent, Diamond light source (United Kingdom)
•    Dr. Alfons Molenbroek, Haldor Topsoe (Denmark)

Text by Kirstin Colvin

Top image: Simon Kimber - Young Scientist of the Year 2013