The SEPnet Team

The SEPnet Team

Chair – Professor Sir William Wakeham

Professor Sir William Wakeham has a strong research and leadership based career. Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton from 2001-2009, his academic specialty is thermodynamics, particularly the thermophysical properties of fluids and intermolecular forces. Professor Wakeham is involved in many government and academic pursuits, including being the chair of a Review of UK Physics which reported in October 2008. Until 2011 he was a member of the Council of EPSRC, and he is currently a Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He took up his role as Chair of SEPnet in 2009.

page_image_meet_the_team_jamesExecutive Director – Dr James West

James West graduated in Physics at the University of Oxford, and then completed a PhD in particle physics at Imperial College. After a 2 year postdoctoral position he joined IBM at its development lab at Hursley near Winchester. He held key senior management roles in software technical strategy, especially for the internet, Java, transaction processing and messaging middleware. James left IBM in 2010, taking up his current role as Executive Director for SEPnet. He has led SEPnet during the key delivery phases and the development of the proposal for SEPnet Phase 2 which has been funded for the period 2013-18.

   Director of Outreach – Dominic Galliano

Dominic graduated with an MPhys in Maths and Physics from the University of York. Since then he has had a varied career working across industry, academia and learned societies. Dominic completed his PhD in Cosmology at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation during which he was their Student Outreach Representative. Dominic then joined the Science in Society team at the Institute of Physics where he managed the national Physics in the Field programme. Dominic became Director of Outreach in 2015.


VeronicaDirector of Employer Liaison – Veronica Benson

Veronica Benson has a degree in Modern Languages from University of East Anglia and postgraduate qualifications in education, careers guidance and organisational behaviour. Following a short time in teaching, Veronica became a director of a conference company in London sourcing speakers and building contacts in the property, finance and legal industries. She went on to set up an education charity and alumni association for the real estate department at the University of Reading working with employers, supporting masters students, raising funds and organising events. More recently she worked as South East Project Manager for WISE (women in science and engineering) running careers workshops for STEM women graduates and working with STEM employers and university departments to change culture and support women’s career progression. Prior to joining SEPnet Veronica led a National HE STEM project on the benefits of placements for undergraduates. Veronica joined SEPnet as Director of Employer Liaison in September

Graduate Network Coordinator – Professor Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald is the GRADnet co-ordinator. He is Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey and was Head of Department from 2005 To 2010. During this time, along with his opposite numbers in the partnership, he played a key role in creating SEPnet. His research interests focus on the development and application of nuclear magnetic resonance methods to porous media, focusing particularly on construction materials including cements, wood and coatings. Peter brings to GRADnet a strong track record of, and commitment to, collaborative and multi-disciplinary research and postgraduate training both within academia and with industry.

Cristobel Soares-SmithGraduate Network Administrator – Cristobel Soares-Smith

Cristobel has worked for senior management as a personal assistant at Hoechst UK, Granada Television and DHL. She joined the University of Surrey in 2006 as a PA in the Centre for Environmental Strategy and since 2008 has worked as PA/Department Administrator in the Department of Physics. During her time in the Physics Department Cristobel was involved in working on SEPnet 1 from its inception and will now focus on providing support for the development of the GRADnet

Diversity and Impact Lead – Professor Averil MacDonald

Averil Macdonald holds both Diversity Lead and Impact lead roles in SEPnet and is Professor of Science Engagement at the University of Reading. Her focus will be on developing Impact from SEPnet research and supporting each departments’ gender and diversity equality in Physics initiatives through the Athena SWAN or Juno schemes.

Averil has been awarded the international Bragg Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics, London. She chairs the UK Expert Group for Women in Science reporting on the success of the Government’s Strategy for Women in Science, and sits on the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Advisory Committee. She is also UK representative on the EU ‘Helsinki Group’ advising on good practice on gender equality in EU Horizon 2020 programme.