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.

Executive Director – Professor Sean Ryan

Sean Ryan is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire and held the post of Dean of School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics from 2006-2015, during which time he negotiated the University’s membership of SEPnet for the start of Phase II. His research interests include: stellar nucleosynthesis; stellar evolution; first stars; big bang nucleosynthesis; chemical evolution of galaxies; Galactic halo; Local Group. As well as being in overall lead of SEPnet, Sean is also responsible for the Graduate Network (GRADnet) programme.

Director of Outreach and Public Engagement – Dr Olivia Keenan

Olivia has an MPhys in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Southampton. Following this she completed her PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Cardiff, studying extra galactic environments. Olivia has always been heavily involved in outreach and public engagement activities, and was a student ambassador for SEPnet during her undergraduate studies. On completing her PhD Olivia became the Regional Manager for London and the South East at the Institute of Physics, where she managed engagement across the region. Olivia became Director of Outreach and Public Engagement in 2019.

Veronica BensonDirector 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 2012.

Cristobel Soares-SmithGraduate Network Manager – 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