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The Halley Research Community and the Launch of St Paul’s Research Network.

On the journey back from the first interschool Structural-Colour symposium, the Halley Research Community was created. Dr Weller and a committed selection of the instrumental user group, Max Hart, Umer Hasan, Paul Karavaikin, Louis Makower, Max Heitmann, and Jakob Ko, were discussing how the scanning electron microscope (SEM) user group and the Halley Society could be combined. The idea was that this would make the SEM accessible to a wider community of students and beyond; and would encourage pupils to think of research programmes as more than driven by the SEM, instead seeing the SEM and the atomic force microscope (AFM) as tools for expanding and deepening research projects. When brainstorming this new initiative the team kept returning to the word community, and after a number of rounds – the journey was a 2 hour bus ride – they also decided to add the emphasis on research, and keep the reference to Halley as the link to St Paul’s history. 

Sir Edmond Halley famously predicted the return of his eponymous comet, but it was at St Paul’s ‘that he made his earliest recorded scientific observation, measuring, in 1672, the variation of the magnetic compass; this result he later published in a list of such determinations.’ [1] Halley himself explained that science gave him ‘so great pleasure as is impossible to explain to anyone who has not experienced it.’ [2] It is this spirit of anticipation and discovery that the Halley Research Community aim to foster and facilitate, coaching and mentoring students that want to undertake original research.

There has already been much progress. Current pupil, Paul Karavaikin’s research has been published in the Young Scientists Journal and Louis Makower, Max Hart and Umer Hasan are also working towards publishing in academic journals. 

The launch of the St Paul’s Research Network event invited the OP and parent community of St Paul’s to the community. This launch was a great opportunity for the Halley Research Community to build on their current aim to widen research fields and work with external partners. This runs alongside expanding their instrument suite to include both a microtome, and Dr Weller’s atomic force microscope. Parent and researcher in low temperature physics, Priya Venky commented, ‘the launch was an ideal occasion imparting momentum to the young scientific mind and a glorious celebratio of research careers’. The highlight of course being the opportunity to meet and quiz, Nobel Prize winner Professor Haldane. A full interview with Professor Haldane will be published in the first edition of the schools new STEM magazine later in the year. 

We have been proud to see the hard work and dedication of these young scientists and researchers, if you would like to join the community by coming to talk, use the instruments with your business or research needs or have interest in attending future events, please get in touch at community@stpaulsschool.org.uk. 

[1] Angus Armitage Edmond Halley: British Men of Science, Nelson, 1966
[2] Colin A. Ronan Edmond Halley: Genius in Eclipse, Doubleday, 1969

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