All posts by Cristobel Soares-Smith

27Apr/17

In Introduction to Quantum Computing

The Quantum Technologies School took place on 24-26 April 2017 at Old Thorns, Liphook in Hampshire. Over 50 delegates attended the residential school led by senior researchers in the SEPnet region. PGRs were exposed to applications of physics which directly rely on the properties of quantum mechanics to perform a function beyond current technological capability. A total of six sessions spanned different directions in which quantum technology is progressing: Quantum computation, Quantum simulation, Quantum sensing / metrology and Quantum communications.

A PGR delegate gave positive feedback saying “the different areas of quantum technology were touched in the right balance.  This makes the conference quite interesting.  A great use and worth of my time.  A great impact into my life and a wonderful exposure for a newbie in the world of quantum technology”.

Thank you to all the speakers: Erika Andersson, Heriot-Watt University, Sougato Bose, University College London; Christopher Chunnilall, NPL; Andreas Freise, University of Birmingham, Eran Ginossar, University of Surrey, Jaewoo Joo, University of Surrey, Stefan Kuhr, University of Strathclyde, John Morton, University College London; Yuri Ovchinnikov, NPL​, Diego Porras, University of Sussex, Alessandro Rossi, University of Cambridge​, Tim Spiller, University of York, Seb Weidt, University of Sussex and Jonathan Williams, NPL.

Quantum crypto with chocolate activity!

Congratulations to the poster winners:

Joint first place: Corin Gawith and Oliver Trojack, University of Southampton.

Joint second place: Rhonda Au Yeung, University of Surrey and Teresa Hönigl-Decrinis, Royal Holloway, University of London.

(L-R) Dr Eran Ginossar, Teresa Hönigl-Decrinis, Oliver Trojack and Sam Berry receiving the prize on behalf of Corin Gawith.

24Apr/17

GRADnet conference at Southampton organised by NPL PhD students

At the end of March, SEPnet/National Physical Laboratory PhD students, Alex Browning (Surrey) and Héctor Corte-León (Royal Holloway), organised a conference at Southampton University with the help of the SEPnet Graduate Network (GRADnet). The conference on Functional Scanning Probe Microscopy Techniques brought together PhD students from the nine SEPnet universities to promote interaction with senior researchers in the field of scanning probe microscopy.

With almost a year of planning, this conference represents one of a series which focusses on giving students (Alex and Héctor in this case) an opportunity to develop their professional skills by contacting speakers, advertising the conference and coordinating the timetable for the different talks and poster sessions.

The main areas covered at this year’s conference included biotechnology applications (e.g. study of cell’s membrane stiffness); in-situ magnetic force microscopy (application of magnetic fields during the imaging process) and functionalized probes and the interaction with the sample’s surface (e.g. by attaching proteins to the apex of the probe).

Delegates gave positive feedback about the conference and welcomed the opportunity to present talks to their peers and senior researchers and to network with other institutions.

04Apr/17

A Broadband Look into Astrophysical Processes

On the 30th-31st March 2017 the University of Southampton hosted two student-led conferences funded by SEPnet – the South East Physics Network. The astronomy-themed conference led by Peter Boorman, Christopher Frohmaier and Bella Boulderstone, all PhD students at Southampton, was entitled ‘A Broadband Look into Astrophysical Process’.

The primary aim was to expose all attendees to as many different areas in modern astrophysical research as possible. It has now become commonplace for new PhD students to start work in a particular area or wavelength of astronomy without the wider context of how their research will fit into the complete picture. For this reason, the Scientific Organising Committee wanted to give all attendees an idea of modern day research in all areas of astronomy – not just their own.

The 43 registered attendees included PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and invited speakers from almost 15 different institutions throughout the UK. The conference programme included 7 invited review talks on major areas in astronomy, including: radio; infrared; optical; ultraviolet; X-ray; gamma ray and cosmology/big data. There were additionally 14 student-contributed oral presentations and 13 poster presentations, all on a multitude of astrophysical research topics. All poster presenters were also given the chance to present the key findings of their work in a 1-minute ‘flash presentation’, in which they were given a minute to present a single slide to the audience.

Copies of presentations are included on the conference website: https://sites.google.com/site/broadbandlook/home

Student delegates and speakers attending the conference

22Mar/17

Hightlighting Excellence in Nuclear Skills

The Nuclear Industry held its ninth annual UK Nuclear Skills Awards on the 16th March.  During the evening the nuclear stars of the present and future were announced including a former SEPnet postgraduate researcher, Dr Michael Hodgson.

The new award for Postgraduate Student of the Year, sponsored by NSSG, was awarded to Michael Hodgson from Centronic. Michael completed a PhD in Detector Physics at the University of Surrey and currently works as a Design & Development Engineer.

The awards, organised by The National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) and Cogent Skills, was hosted by the lead singer of Iron Maiden, pilot and entrepreneur Bruce Dickinson. The event brought the nuclear industry together to celebrate the success and high achievement of learners nominated for awards in Apprentice, Foundation Degree/HND and Graduate disciplines.

The Main Sponsor on the evening was NuGen. NuGen is a UK nuclear joint venture between Toshiba and ENGIE.  NuGen’s Moorside project aims to develop a new generation nuclear power station on land in West Cumbria enough to power 6 million homes and equivalent to 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity requirements.

Above (L-R) John Male – NSSG, Michael Hodgson, Dr McKeag – Centronic and Bruce Dickinson

09Mar/17

Experimental Methods for Condensed Matter School 5-7 March 2017

16 SEPnet PGRs attended the Experimental Methods for Condensed Matter School on the 5-7 March 2017 at Old Thorns in Liphook, Hampshire.

The 3-day residential workshop covered the background science, the methodology, the capability and some dos and don’ts of a range of common spectroscopy, microscopy and characterisation techniques.

Lectures, tutorials, seminars and other activity sessions included:

  • X-ray and neutron scattering
  • Optical spectroscopies
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Electron and atomic force microscopies and surface analysis techniques

One postdoctoral researcher from the University of Hertfordshire, said it was an “excellent location” and the programme had “good structure”.

Thank you to all our speakers: Prof Jon Goff, RHUL; Prof John Watts, Dr Mark Whiting, Dr Izabela Jurewicz, and Prof Peter McDonald, University of Surrey; Prof David Dunstan and Dr Andrei Sapelkin, QMUL, Dr Mischa Zelzer, University of Nottingham, Dr David Voneshen, ISIS STFC and Dr Jon Mitchell, Schlumberger Gould Research.

Congratulations to Lei Tan at QMUL who won a prize for the best “Beam Time Proposal” and Daniel Parrish at the University of Surrey who won the best “3-minute Thesis Presentation”. Sean Ogilvie at the University of Sussex and Jelena Gorbaciova at QMUL were jointly commended for their  3-minute presentations.

Organisers, speakers and SEPnet PGRs at Old Thorns.

17Feb/17

PhD Students examine the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

This year’s Winter School, entitled “Building your leadership potential”, took place on the 13-15 February 2017 at Cumberland Lodge.  The former royal residence set in the heart of Windsor Great Park was host to 21 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.

Dr Stephen Haywood, Leader of the ATLAS Collaboration, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Dave Harrison, Galileo KMF Project Manager, CGI Group,  gave their perspectives on leadership styles from an employer’s point of view.  Prof Pam Denicolo, University of Reading, Dr Julie Reeves, University of Southampton and Dr Laura Christie, Royal Holloway University of London presented the Belbin Model and sessions on developing personal leadership awareness and skills.

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.

A 3rd year postgraduate delegate stated the reason why they chose to attend this year’s winter school was because: “SEPnet events are vibrant, engaging and fun. A great way to network with fellow physicists while learning useful employability skills and personal growth”

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Delegates, trainers and SEPnet staff at Cumberland Lodge.

Photographs from the event can be accessed here: https://goo.gl/photos/8ueimQdAAnuU2ugVA

16Nov/16

Planetary Science School a great success!

23 SEPnet PGRs attended the 2-day planetary science school at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex. The school was led by senior researchers in the SEPnet region and comprised four sessions exploring different aspects of planetary science through a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Thank you to the following contributors:  Dr Susanne Schwenzer, Frances Butcher and Jack Wright , Open University; Dr Rob Fear and Dr Catriona Jackman, University of Southampton; Dr Simon Green and Dr Stephen Lowry, University of Kent and Dr Setnam Shemar and Dr Tian-Hong Loh, NPL.

Joint winners of the poster competition were Paul Hallam, Queen Mary University of London: “Investigating the Depth of Gaps formed by Planets in Protoplanetary Discs” and Daniel Staab, Open University:  “The Dispersed Matter Planet Project”.  Both winners were awarded Amazon vouchers.  Chris Malliband, Open University , received a special mention for his poster:  “1:3m Mapping of a quadrangle on Mercury”.

Overall feedback was very positive and one PGR said the school was a “very interesting intro to planetary science as a whole”.

Thank you to NPL for hosting this event on behalf of GRADnet.

01Nov/16

A PGR’s perspective on the GRADnet Induction Day

Michael Hubbard, a first year postgraduate researcher at the University of Surrey gives his perspective on the GRADnet Induction Day held on the 26 October 2016 at the Park Crescent Conference Centre in central London.

“The GRADnet induction day was an enjoyable day out of the office. The day presented a brilliant opportunity to meet new people, even from your own university; not to mention networking with old friends from our undergraduate years. The workshops I attended provided me with an insight into the world of getting a paper published and explored the world of MATLAB”.

GRADnet Induction Day Photo 2

31Oct/16

GRADnet Induction Day 26 October 2016

The GRADnet Induction Day was held at the Park Crescent Conference Centre in central London on Wednesday, 26 October. 115 postgraduate students attended the day and participated in 5 workshops:

Getting your research published: Simon Harris, IOP Publishing; LaTEX:  Dr Paul Stevenson, University of Surrey; MATLAB:  Prof Peter McDonald, University of Surrey; Python:  Dr Timothy Kinnear, University of Kent and Organising meetings and conferences:  Kay Pearson, Employer Engagement Officer, University of Surrey.

Professor Peter McDonald, GRADnet Director, gave an introduction to GRADnet and details of the free training opportunities available in this academic year.

This was an excellent opportunity for first year postgraduates to network with their SEPnet partners. One student reported that the speakers were “brilliant” and the event was “top notch”.

Cristobel Soares-Smith, GRADnet Administrator, said “this was one of the best attended events by physics postgraduates and I hope to see many of the attendees at future GRADnet residential schools and one-day workshops”.

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