Yearly Archives: 2018

20Feb/18

RHUL team win “Enterprising Ideas” competition 2018!

Over the past months seven SEPnet teams have been taking part in the Enterprising Ideas Competition designed to develop entrepreneurship skills.  PGRs and physics undergraduates were invited in January 2017 to put forward teams to compete to be the most entrepreneurial in SEPnet.

Three teams, Kent, RHUL and Southampton made it to the final on the 15 February 2018 at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor. The winning team was announced at a “Physics Means Business” networking event at the GRADnet Winter School.

Congratulations to the RHUL team who won £100 each!

L-R: Phil Edwards, Weald Technology, Simon Bland, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Bob Pickles, Canon (UK) Ltd, Rupert Mellor, Alex Waterworth,  Albert Baker, Stephanie Bennett, Nathan Eng, Thomas Vaughan and Elaine Hickmott, Elaine Hickmott Enterprises.

Business and research increasingly need graduates who bring fresh ideas, innovative thinking and who have great team-working skills. Highly developed entrepreneurial skills and an enquiring mind are key to building a knowledge-based economy and can give you the edge when applying for research or graduate jobs or studentships.

This GRADnet training has given participants an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on how skills and knowledge can be applied; to understand more about entrepreneurship and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mind-set and develop real insights into business, innovation and team working.

Thank you to Elaine Hickmott who ran the 2-day entrepreneurship training for UGs and PGRs in June 2017 and the competition, and Cristobel Soares-Smith for coordinating and organising both events.

See here for Elaine Hickmott’s Blog.

19Feb/18

Columbia Space Shuttle Mission is case study at GRADnet Winter School

This year’s Winter School, entitled “Building your leadership potential”, took place on the 14-16 February 2018 at Cumberland Lodge.  The former royal residence set in the heart of Windsor Great Park was host to 25 postgraduate students who enjoyed being immersed in its fascinating history dating back to the 17th century.

The 3-day residential school focussed on the skills required for effective leadership and team-working. Different leadership styles were explored and each student attendee was given the opportunity to have their preferred team-working style evaluated using the Belbin model.

The core activity involved Columbia’s fatal final mission. The multi-media case tracks the Columbia Space Shuttle mission from launch as NASA engineers and leaders sought to understand the nature and threat associated with an anomaly that occurred on launch. Participants were given an opportunity to analyse the case using materials supplied by NASA under the guidance of Dr Trevor Long, Consultant.

Thank you to Alys Brett Data and Coding Team Leader, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Jan-Theodoor Janssen, Head of Science for SI Metrology, National Physical Laboratory and John Wells, VP Engineering, Leonardo Air and Space Systems Division, who participated in the employer panel session.

Students also had an opportunity to hear from the finalists of the Enterprising Ideas Competition during a “Physics Means Business” networking evening. Congratulations to the winners, Royal Holloway University of London who had a team of both undergraduate and postgraduates. Thank you to Elaine Hickmott, Elaine Hickmott Enterprises for  leading the entrepreneurship training and running the 2017-18 competition.

A PGR from the University of Sussex said, “I really enjoyed the programme. It was varied and interesting. I liked the mix of presentation and workshop and having networking/discussion panels with employers was useful.”

Thank you to Trevor Long, Trevor Long Consultancy who ran the workshop, Veronica Benson, SEPnet Employer Liaison Director and Kay Pearson, Employer Engagement Advisor, for offering feedback and finally Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator for organising the event.

19Feb/18

Team from Royal Holloway wins SEPnet Enterprising Ideas Competition

In early 2017 SEPnet invited students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, from the network to submit teams for the SEPnet Enterprising Ideas competition. We were  looking for teams who bring fresh ideas, innovative thinking and who have great team working skills that businesses increasingly need.

The idea of the programme was to engender new skills in the students: a fresh perspective on how their skills and knowledge can be applied; understanding more about entrepreneurship and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset; and to develop real insights into business, innovation, enterprise and team workings.

The programme would last throughout 2017 with teams undertaking training in June led by Elaine Hickmott of EH-Enterprises who tailored the programme specifically for Physics students in SEPnet. They were then asked to submit their ideas via a short video by September. This was followed by submitting detailed market research and their business case, leading up to a “Dragon’s Den” format presentation to a panel of Business people at the GRADnet Winter School in February.

Unfortunately along the way, some teams dropped out due to research and studying commitments. However they gained valuable experience from the intensive training provided.

Three teams made it through the grueling process and reached the finals:

  • VR-Teach – a Physics VR Simulator from a team from the University of Kent
  • MQMobile – monitoring lab equipment, from the University of Southampton
  • “Conker” monitoring for concussion in sporting and other accidents, from Royal Holloway
The team from Kent The team from RHUL The team from Southampton

The panel of judges (Bob Pickles of Canon UK, Simon Bland of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Phil Edwards of Weald Technology) was extremely impressed with all three finalists and by the quality, credibility and potential of the ideas being showcased. It was a tough call. However, they chose “Conker” from RHUL as the winning entry.

The winners collect their certificates The runners up collect theirs.

Congratulations to all the teams for not just demonstrating great technical ideas, but also how to ensure they solved real problems and what was needed for commercial success. Congratulations to the team from RHUL for winning.

 

19Feb/18

GRADnet Winter School 2018 a Great Success

This year’s Winter School, entitled “Building your leadership potential”, took place on the 14-16 February 2018 at Cumberland Lodge.  The former royal residence set in the heart of Windsor Great Park was host to 26 postgraduate students from eight of the SEPnet members, who enjoyed being immersed in its fascinating history dating back to the 17th century.

The 3-day residential school focussed on the skills required for  effective leadership and team-working. Different leadership styles were explored and each student attendee was given the opportunity to have their preferred team-working style evaluated using the Belbin model.

The core activity involved Columbia’s fatal final mission. The multi-media case tracks the Columbia Space Shuttle mission from launch as NASA engineers and leaders sought to understand the nature and threat associated with an anomaly that occurred on launch. Participants were given an opportunity to analyse the case using materials supplied by NASA under the guidance of Dr Trevor Long, Consultant. Veronica Benson and Kay Pearson from SEPnet’s Employer Engagement team observed the PGRs and provided feedback to them.

Alys Brett, from UKAEA, JT Jansenn from National Physical Laboratory, John Wells from Leonardo and Helen White from AWE took part in a panel discussion and  gave their perspectives on leadership styles from an employer’s point of view.

Students also enjoyed the recreational activities available in the games room in the cellar at Cumberland Lodge as well as the historical ghost tour which took place in Windsor town centre in the pouring rain.

16Feb/18

SEPnet launches Shattering Stereotypes Evaluation Report

During the 2016/17 academic year, SEPnet Outreach & Public Engagement has been piloting a project determining the best role Physics Outreach Officers can play in tackling and improving the gender stereotyping problem in schools.

This was the first SEPnet-wide project which involved building a direct partnership with a set of schools to deliver a programme of activity over an academic year. The pilot was a first step, so the priority for the evaluation was on logistics over impact of the project, though both were considered. The evaluation was carried out by Elizabeth Jeavans and Sarah Jenkins. The full report can be found here.

Overall the project delivered a programme which led to positive experiences across all stakeholders:

  • Year 8 Studentsfollowing their involvement in Shattering Stereotypes, they now view future opportunities as not being constrained by stereotypical perceptions of gender.
  • Year 12 Studentsdeveloped transferable leadership and communication skills through their participation in the communications challenge.
  • Teachersvalued external visits and having resources from universities.
  • Schools – In some schools, the pilot project raised awareness of gender stereotyping across their entire schools
  • Outreach Officers welcomed the opportunity provided by the project to work as part of a team and to be involved in building up a relationship with schools, as opposed to one-off activities.

This gives the project a fantastic base to evolve and grow from in future years. However the project did highlight some areas where further development is needed. Most of these were themed around the following areas:

  • Message. Throughout the project there was some confusion about whether primary purpose of Shattering Stereotypes was to address/ reduce gender stereotyping or to equalise the gender balance in physics through greater understanding of physics career opportunities.

    This was the tension the project team struggled with from the development of the project. The idea was to address / reduce gender stereotyping, but the strength of SEPnet’s experiences in School’s Outreach shifted this towards equalising the gender balance in physics, especially in the earlier workshops.
  • Logistics and Partnership. Throughout the project there were some logistical challengers in booking the Shattering Stereotypes activities. There was also a lack of connectivity across the activities and support between said activities.

    This was due to its nature as a pilot project. It was the first time SEPnet has both worked in the realm of Gender Stereotyping and in the format of delivering activity throughout the year. This together with the large workloads and busy environments in schools led to some workshops being missed at some schools and a lot of last minute work being carried out by Officers and Teachers.

A summary of experiences and outcomes, along with opportunities from development can be found here.

The report also issued a list of twelve recommendations, all of which we taking into account as we develop the project for the 2018/19 Academic Year.

The project team would like to give a massive thanks to all the teachers who partnered with us on the pilot project. Their input and time has been invaluable and has a great impact in how we continue to develop and deliver this project, and many others across SEPnet Outreach.

The project team would also like to thank:

  • Elizabeth and Sarah for their contribution and insights throughout the process.
  • All the physics role models from activity two, who took time from their busy schedules to attend events.
  • The Year 12 students who took part, most of whom are currently in the process of applying for University. The team wishes them good luck in your future careers.
  • All the Year 8 students who participated in the pilot project. Their enthusiasm for the subject matter was apparent from day one of the project. They constantly surprised us, challenged us and pushed us to do better. The team hopes they all remain staunch champions and continue to challenge gender stereotyping wherever they see it.

The schools who participated in the pilot project where:

SEPnet will be running the project through the 2018/2019 academic year.

If your school is interested in joining the project as a partner, please e-mail the Director of Outreach & Public Engagement outreach@sepnet.ac.uk. At the moment SEPnet is looking for state-funded, mixed-gender schools for this project.

Further details on the project will be available in Mid-March 2018.

12Feb/18

Strong Correlations Workshop 11-13 April 2018

What: A 2.5-day residential workshop that describes the background science of strongly correlated systems and experiments to probe them.

Who:  1st and 2nd Year Physics postgraduate researchers working in condensed matter physics.      

When:  11-13 April 2018

Where:  Old Thorns Manor Hotel, Liphook, Hampshire

Numbers:  Circa 25-30 delegates

No two researchers would ever completely agree on the definition of a strongly correlated system; however they may very roughly be described as materials where the correlations between electrons induced by interactions make the behaviour of the material ‘interesting’.

This interactive two-and-a-half day residential workshop is designed for PhD students who would benefit from learning more about this subject. The course will consist of three short lecture courses of three lectures each, covering both the theoretical concepts necessary to understand strongly correlated systems, as well as how one would probe them experimentally. The course will be self-contained, assuming only a knowledge of quantum mechanics and undergraduate level solid state physics. It should therefore be beneficial to students working on both theoretical and/or experimental projects. 

In addition to the lectures, the workshop will have tutorials that pose and discuss problems related to the lectures. This will also offer an opportunity to ask many questions and continue further discussions with all of the lecturers. There will also be a poster session, some evening seminars, and a skills session focussing on scientific communication. 

Posters to be presented must be size A1 portrait.

Travel expenses, meals and accommodation are covered by SEPnet.

Registration deadline 9 March 2018.

Register here:

24Jan/18

GRADnet Observational Astrophysics Workshop 5-7 March 2018

Who: Physics postgraduate researchers in observational astronomy. Would also be of interest to theoretical astronomers wanting an introduction to data analysis.

What: A 3-day residential workshop led by senior researchers in the SEPnet region comprising lectures, tutorials, seminars and other activities.

When: 5-7 March 2018

Where: Old Thorns Manor Hotel, Liphook, Hampshire.

Numbers: Circa 20-30 delegates

The aim of this workshop is to give a broad overview and hands-on experience of different techniques in observational astrophysics. The emphasis will be on practical skills training sessions with plenty of opportunity for student/staff interaction.

Exercises will be graded to match students experience and abilities.

Data mining – in other words doing astronomy using existing data in public repositories: examples from galactic and extragalactic astrophysics; an introduction to TopCat from its author (Mark Taylor); practical exercises.

Citizen science – how to get the general public to do your data analysis for you: examples and exercises.

Telescope proposals: the techniques and tools required to write an observing proposal; how the evaluation procedure works; practical exercises in both writing and reviewing. Much of what is learnt will be transferable to other types of proposal, e.g. applying for HPC time, grant funding, etc.

Using the OU robotic telescope: we will make remote observations on the OU PIRATE telescope on Tenerife (weather permitting).

Analysing observational data – an introduction to the main concepts: examples and practical exercises of source extraction, photometry, spectroscopy, SED fitting, etc.

Standalone lectures: introduction to X-ray/HE astronomy; Introduction to radio astronomy & interferometry; Current & planned telescopes/satellites/instruments.

Register here. Deadline to register is 2 February 2018.

24Jan/18

Numerical Modelling in Condensed Matter Workshop a success!

The Numerical Modelling in Condensed Matter Workshop took place on 14-16 January 2018 at Old Thorns in Liphook and was attended by 20 delegates.

The students enjoyed the hands-on practical sessions on the simulation programme and the interaction with other SEPnet PGRs.

Malin Schulz, a first year PGR at the University of Surrey ” found the workshop an amazing opportunity to learn about molecular modelling. The lecturers did a great job to deliver the methods to us and helped us getting started on modelling. It was also a great opportunity to meet PhD students from other universities who work in a similar field.”

Thanks to Dr Dave Faux, University of Surrey and Professor Keith Refson who delivered the 3-day workshop and to Cristobel Soares-Smith who organised the event.

17Jan/18

From Micrometres to Megaparsecs: Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018

From Micrometres to Megaparsecs: Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018

Who: Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers from the SEPnet region with research interests in this year’s conference topics. A limited number of places are available to early stage  researchers beyond the region.

What: Two parallel research conferences proposed and organised by students wanting to advance their research and extend their collaborations. The conferences include talks by invited speakers and students as well as poster and recreational sessions.  

When: 21-23 March 2018  (Arrival 18:00 on 21 March 2018)

Where:  Murray Lecture Building, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton. (Accommodation at Glen Eyre Complex, Highfield Campus)

NumbersCirca 35 delegates

This conference aims to bring together students from all areas of astronomy research. From micrometeorites at Kent, to cosmological surveys at Portsmouth, the GRADnet groups and astronomy departments cover all sizes and scales of the Universe. Students will gain knowledge of a wide range of research techniques applied to the various size scales, and see where such techniques may cross over and enhance their own research; e.g. how the physics of planetary system formation can scale up to galactic formation.

Organisers:  Sam Billington, Justyn Campbell-White, University of Kent, and Ben Mawdsley, University of Portsmouth

The parallel conference is Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology and aims to bring together students from all areas of particle physics research. There will be cross-over lectures which are relevant to students of both astronomy and particle physics.    

The deadline to register is 7 February 2018. Register here

17Jan/18

Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology: Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018

Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology: Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018

Who: Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers from the SEPnet region with research interests in this year’s conference topics. A limited number of places are available to early stage  researchers beyond the region.What: Two parallel research conferences proposed and organised by students wanting to advance their research and extend their collaborations. The conferences include talks by invited speakers and students as well as poster and recreational sessions.  

When: 21-23 March 2018  (Arrival 18:00 on 21 March 2018)

Where:  Murray Lecture Building, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton. (Accommodation at Glen Eyre Complex, Highfield Campus)

Numbers: Circa 35 delegates

This conference aims to bring together students from all GRADnet nodes and provide high quality lectures from experts in the fields over a variety of topics.

Students attending will learn from a wide range of topics, which include dark matter, gravitational waves and other cosmological topics. There will also be sessions for students to present their own research in addition to learning from accomplished lecturers.

Organisers: Simon King, University of Southampton, Sonali Mohapatra and Jack Setford, University of Sussex.

The parallel conference is From Micrometres to Megaparsecs and aims to bring together students from all areas of astronomy research. There will be cross-over lectures which are relevant to students of both particle physics and astronomy.

The deadline to register is 7 February 2018.  Register here.