This week at the lab, 28 young scientists from as far off as New Zealand are at the MagLab for our annual crash course on how to do better experiments using magnets.

The MagLab's 2016 User Summer School features 23 talks and eight hands-on workshops where graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and other early career scientists learn how to get better data when they do research here or at their home institutions.

The MagLab began offering this annual weeklong session in 2009, when staff started to notice that some young scientists hadn't mastered increasingly complicated measurement techniques and tools and were sometimes misreading results. Because researchers typically have only a week to complete an experiment at the MagLab, it's important they know how to make the most of their time.

Just as increasingly complex cars have become harder for amateur mechanics to repair, more sophisticated instrumentation has both benefits and downsides. It's great to have smart measurement tools, but researchers conducting pioneering experiments at the MagLab need to stay one step ahead and recognize when a system is veering them off course.

"We're pushing things to the very edge," said MagLab Associate Director Eric Palm. "You have to know when your instrument is telling you something you can really believe in, or whether you should start being suspicious and start thinking about measuring it in a different way."


Photo by Stephen Bilenky / Text by Kristen Coyne.

If you are an advanced graduate student, postdoctoral associate or early career investigator looking to gain practical measurement experience, the MagLab User Summer School will help you develop skills you can use in your home laboratory and in user facilities worldwide.

This collection of training videos for MagLab users covers everything from noise suppression to visible optics.