This article was compiled with the help of Michael Krisch, Vincent Favre-Nicolin (both are organizers of the school) and by consulting a recent paper about the school itself and should give a general overview about the school. Our blog also features a story about the course from 2017.
The Higher European Research Course for Users of Large Experimental Systems School (or HERCULES School for short) was established in 1991 by the major universities in Grenoble in collaboration with Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) and also later for the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). Its dedicated goal is the training of young scientists in how to utilize large scale facilities for their own research. For this purpose, the organizers place a large emphasis on practical experience with X-ray and neutron sources and the available techniques for each source. Over time, additional large scale research facilities from all over Europe have joined in to support the training with both beam time and man power. Participants from all over Europe, and occasionally from other parts of the world too, get together for about a month to get trained to be the best in their field. It is also a great opportunity for networking and a starting point for collaborations and knowledge transfer due to the large diversity of participants and their fields of interest.
The training’s success is further evident in that several former HERCULES School students return to teach the next generation. For example, Michael Krisch, one of todays organizers of the School, was among the first students and is now Head of the Instrumentation Services and Development Division at the ESRF. He also provided me with some interesting information about the school and, for example its outreach to other countries such as Brazil, Taiwan, Poland, Turkey and Jordan. He also summarized some of his experiences with the HERCULES school, from his time as a student there, becoming a lecturer and until now. I intended to write more about the schools aims and background but his story was ultimately better to get a glimpse of the school and its opportunities. This is his story:
I have been a Hercules student myself, for its first edition in the 1990s. At that time the course was two month long with all the pros and cons, but the course was key element for me to appreciate the large diversity of science with X-rays and its strong complementarity with research using neutrons. I largely profited from this later on in my career when my research focused on the determination of phonon dispersion by high resolution inelastic x-ray scattering.
I believe that Hercules is unique in the sense that it teaches X-ray and neutron techniques for research in a very broad field of science with large overlap between the two probes (dynamics, mesoscopic structures, magnetism, etc.).
With age you realize as well how important it is to train young scientists and try to transfer the passion to do research. So it was for me the natural step to participate in the organization of the school.
Also make sure to check out the homepage and make sure to keep an eye open for the next school in 2018, application typically starts at the beginning of September and ends one and half months later.
I would like to thank the school’s organizers Michael Krisch and Vincent Favre-Nicolin who provided me with some insights into the HERCULES school.