St John’s College pupil impresses scientists and professors at science conference

Prof. Simon Connell UJ lecturer and nuclear physicist congratulates Brandon MacKenzie. With them is Pauline Gagnon, CERN senior research scientist.

Brandon MacKenzie, a Grade 12 pupil at St John’s College, presented a paper on The Search for Crystal Undulator Radiation at the 61st Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Physics at UCT in Cape Town.

MacKenzie was part of a team of high school boys who, under the guidance of the college’s head of science, Dr Colleen Henning; and Prof. Simon Connell, a UJ lecturer and nuclear physicist, submitted a proposal to CERN for the 2015 International Beamline for Schools competition.

CERN operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

The team won the international competition and was invited by CERN to Switzerland in September last year where beam time, which is time allocated to a researcher for the use of a beam of particles from a particular source, was made available to them. Henning was invited to present a paper on the beam particle experiment at the conference in Cape Town and she selected MacKenzie to do the presentation on behalf of the team.

He dedicated many hours to this presentation in-between studying for his prelim exams. “We are incredibly proud of Brandon. He battled unbelievable health issues in his high school years, but throughout it all, he has shown tenacity, diligence and humility,” said Chantal MacKenzie, Brandon’s mother.

“We are very blessed – he remains focused and grounded in ways that humble us as a family.”

Gazette Reporter

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