Dr. Stuart Wright, Senior Scientist EBSD, EDAX
In the United States we celebrate a holiday this time of year we call Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays as we gather as families to enjoy a celebratory feast and spend time together. I also like it because it is not nearly as commercialized as the surrounding holidays of Halloween and Christmas – although I enjoy those holidays as well. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I want to express some gratitude related to my career in EBSD.
On one of my recent trips I was in Connecticut once again and was able to revisit some of my old grad-school haunts. This has caused me to get a little nostalgic for those years at Yale as I went through the ups and downs of trying to automate EBSD. My colleague from those days, David Field, remarked recently that how many people get to see their PhD research blossom as large as mine has. It has been rewarding to have been a part of the early development and the continued advancements but even more rewarding to see the wide variety of applications. I never imagined back in the early 90s that EBSD would be applied to historical artifacts1, used to determine the temperature of the eggs of dinosaurs2, gain understanding into the behavior of trilobites3 or track the movements of proteins4 to name just a few examples.
I also did not anticipate that being involved with EBSD would take me all over the world. Since SEMs are generally located in basements and time is often tight on my trips I often joke that my travels have allowed me to see the great airports and basements of the world. However, that is certainly an exaggeration. My travels have allowed me the opportunity to see some of the great sights of our planet and to learn more about the world’s diverse cultures. It is fun to visit a lab in some far away corner of the world and then spend the evening after working together to be proudly shown the local sights and tastes by my host.
This year I’ve also been able to spend some extended time with former colleagues which has been a treat. I am thankful for the many men and women I have had the opportunity to interact with. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such remarkable scientists and have learned so much from them (I wish I had more photos!). I am humbled by their technical abilities but even more appreciative of their generous spirit and kindness. I am grateful to count them as friends. It helps me view the world in a much more positive light than portrayed on the news. I chuckle as our politicians try to arrogantly portray themselves as self-made men and women. I certainly am not self-made – I am the product of a good family and friends and colleagues who have shaped my life. I am glad that science and engineering is not done in a vacuum but is a team effort and often makes its greatest leaps forward when teams of people of diverse backgrounds come together.
1Wanhill, R. J. H. “Embrittlement of ancient silver.” Journal of failure analysis and prevention 5.1 (2005): 41-54.
2Eagle, Robert A., et al. “Isotopic ordering in eggshells reflects body temperatures and suggests differing thermophysiology in two Cretaceous dinosaurs.” Nature communications 6 (2015).
3Torney, Clare, Martin R. Lee, and Alan W. Owen. “Microstructure and growth of the lenses of schizochroal trilobite eyes.” Palaeontology 57.4 (2014): 783-799.
4Ogawa, Naoki, et al. “Three-Dimensional Picometer-Scale Motions in Aqueous Solution Visualized by Diffracted Electron Tracking.” Biophysical Journal 104.2 (2013): 526a.