At the end of August, I was fortunate enough to go to the ninth International Conference on Nuclear and Radiochemistry (NRC9) in Helsinki, Finland to present a poster on the initial work of my PhD. The international conference, which is held every 4 years, brings together researchers from all fields of nuclear; from radiopharmaceuticals to the production and properties of superheavy elements. I travelled out along with several other PhDs from the Geomicro and OMIC groups from the University of Manchester.
There were some great talks, including more unusual topics such as the devaluation of rhino horn through nuclear techniques (J.R. Zeevaart)! My personal favourites included a talk on Chernobyl lava and radioactive particles (I. Vlasova) and the opening lecture on closing the nuclear fuel cycle for sustainable nuclear energy (T. Fanghänel), not to mention the fantastic talks by Josh, Graham, Hannah and Tom from our own Manchester Geomicro group!
When it came to my poster session I was a little nervous, however once I got into the flow of things I really enjoyed talking to other researchers from all over the world about my work. One question I found myself frequently asked by others was ‘what’s happening with regards to nuclear new build in the UK?’ – it seems all eyes are on Hinkley Point.
I was fortunate to see some of Helsinki during my stay; it’s a beautiful city with amazing food (lots of fresh fish) and beer! On Tuesday afternoon we looked round the market stalls selling fresh produce as well as animal hides and amber. Street food stands cooked whole salmon or rainbow trout, as well as piles of battered whitebait, veg and potatoes! We also strolled out to Tervasaari Tjarholmen island, a small park in the bay offering beautiful views and a chance to sit on a pontoon and dip our feet in the chilly Baltic Sea. In the evenings we explored more of the city centre, finding restaurants serving great local food including huge bowls of salmon soup and sautéed reindeer. Although during the day it had been very warm and sunny, in the evenings the sea breeze was pretty cold – fortunately bars provide blankets to wrap up in!
On the final evening of the conference we attended the conference dinner at the Saaristo restaurant on Luoto Klippan island; after a lovely meal including traditional Nordic pickled herring and a glass of cloudberry liqueur, a live band filled the dancefloor with hits from Abba to Thunderstuck by AC/DC.
After the penultimate session the next morning, it was announced where NRC10, the next conference would be… none other than our hometown of Manchester!
NRC9 has been an amazing (and very well fed) conference experience; it was amazing to have the opportunity to meet so many nuclear experts from round the world, and as a keen traveller I’d love to re-visit Finland to explore more of the beautiful country (especially in the snowy winter months).