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Diamond Light Source appoints new head of scientific computing and a new head of beamline controls

Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron, has recently appointed Dr Andrew Richards as its new head of scientific computing. He joins Ulrik Pedersen, who became head of Diamond’s Beamline Controls Group in September. Alongside the Data Analysis and Data Acquisition Groups, they are responsible for delivering the computing capability to underpin the science facility’s cutting edge research and operational activities.

Diamond Light Source speeds up electrons to near light speeds, producing a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. These bright beams are then directed off into laboratories known as ‘beamlines’. Scientists can then use this light to study everything from viruses and vaccines to fossils and jet engines.

Dr Richards joins Diamond from the University of Oxford, where he led the Advanced Research Computing facility and was an associate director of the Oxford e-Research Centre. One of the country’s leading figures in e-infrastructure developments, he is a member of the UK National e-Infrastructure Project Directors Group, in which he continues to be involved.

Ulrik Pedersen joined Diamond in 2005 from CERN, Geneva, as a software systems engineer to design, commission and maintain control systems on Diamond Phase-I and II beamlines. In his new role he now leads the Beamline Controls Group – a team of engineers that design, build and maintain the software and hardware of the control systems on beamlines, enabling scientists to control, monitor, and synchronise instrumentation to perform their experiments.

Diamond’s CEO, Andrew Harrison, said: ‘With their many years of experience in developing e-infrastructure and software development, Andrew and Ulrik are great additions to the Diamond team. They and their colleagues provide vital support to the globally important research conducted at our facility and ensure we are well placed to serve the international science community.’

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Richards said: ‘It’s an exciting time to join the team at Diamond Light Source. My role will be to lead sustainable and cutting edge developments in IT to support the invaluable, pioneering research across the facility into the future.’

Diamond Light Source is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust. Diamond is now celebrating its 10th year of user operations, during which time it has expanded from just seven operational beamlines to 26. In that time more than 5,000 papers have been published as a result of research conducted at the facility.

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