All posts by Cristobel Soares-Smith

18Sep/18

Introduction to Data Science Workshop a Success!

DISCnet held their second workshop on “Introduction to Data Science” 12-13 September 2018 at Old Thorns, in Liphook, Hampshire. 20 students attended the workshop and were given a hands-on introduction to tools and methods used in astronomy and particle physics.

Dr Daniel Asmus from the University of Southampton gave a talk on “Astronomical databases & Virtual Observatory and its tools TOPCAT & Aladin” introducing students to the large public astronomical databases, in particular CDS with its services, like SIMBAD and VizieR, and the frame work of the Virtual Observatory.

For the particle physicists Prof Alexander Belyaev from the University of Southampton presented a “Practical introduction into TOOLS for High Energy Physics” where students learnt about automatic evaluation of Matrix Elements and simulation of the processes within and Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) using CalcHEP, as well as automatic derivation of Feynman Rules for the BSM model using LanHEP.

Second year DISCnet students who had undertaken the DISCnet training and 3-month summer placements with businesses and other external organisations gave presentations about their experiences which the new students found very useful.

A DISCnet postgraduate researcher at Sussex said: “Good overall introduction to what DISCnet is and its structure, taught me things I didn’t know about TOPCAT, got me MUCH more enthusiastic about the industrial placements (and thinking about places I could try and apply to).”

The event was a great success and built good relationships between students from different institutions, disciplines and years.

Thank you to the organisers of this event: Dr Sebastian Hoenig, University of Sussex, Prof Seb Oliver, University of Sussex, and Dr Eram Rizvi, Queen Mary University of London, Ceris French, University of Southampton and Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator.

09Jul/18

A PGR’s perspective of the GRADnet Summer School: Where might my physics take me?

Elizabeth Swann, postgraduate researcher at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth,  gives her views on why she attended the GRADnet Summer School 2-5 July 2018 at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex.

“I went to the GRADnet summer school because I was unsure as to what I wanted to do after I graduated from my PhD. I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in academia or leave research and was worried that if I left academia I wouldn’t find a job that was interesting or suited towards the way I like to work.

Attending the Summer School changed that for me. Meeting many physics PhD graduates now working for different companies such as NVIDIA, Deloitte and Kindred Group opened my eyes to the opportunities available for a PhD students leaving academia.

What I enjoyed most was the honest stories of the employers who didn’t use the sessions as opportunities to promote their companies, but to recount their own experiences of moving from a PhD into a more traditional workplace environment, and to give advice on how best to make that transition.

We also had a workshops on ethics, consultancy challenges, how best to write an academic or non-academic CV, and a plethora of careers information. I feel now that whatever I choose to do after I graduate I am much more aware of my options, and if I decided to leave academia I would know how best to market my skills to a non-academic employer.

I would highly recommend this summer school to any physics PhD student, particularly if they are unsure as to what they want to do after they graduate and even if they are sure they want to stay in academia, as knowing all the options available to you can never be a bad thing!”

Next year’s summer school will be held 1-4 July 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory. Registration will be open in October 2018.

09Jul/18

GRADnet celebrates at Herstmonceux Castle on 3 July 2018!

To mark five years of HEFCE funding GRADnet celebrated with a  fabulous evening drinks reception in the castle courtyard followed by dinner hosted by Prof Adam Tickell, Vice Chancellor University of Sussex in the ballroom. Over 80 guests attended including postgraduate researchers, Vice Chancellors, physics Heads of Department, representatives from research councils, employers and SEPnet staff.

Sir William Wakeham thanked Dr James West, Executive Director, SEPnet, for his commitment and drive to SEPnet over the last eight years and wished him well on his forthcoming retirement.

Sir William also thanked Prof Peter McDonald, GRADnet Director for his contribution to SEPnet from its inception to SEPnet phase 3 over the last ten years. Prof Averil MacDonald, Diversity and Impact Director was also thanked for her contribution over the past five years during SEPnet phase 2.

Prof Sean Ryan, University of Hertfordshire was welcomed as the new Executive Director, SEPnet in phase 3.

09Jul/18

Another Successful Summer School at Herstmonceux Castle!!

The fifth GRADnet Summer took place on 2-5 July 2018 at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. As in previous years the school comprised a broad menu of workshops and challenges led by different employers designed to offer students an insight into opportunities beyond their PhD.  A consultancy challenge took place on the last day and students worked in teams to create solutions using the skills they have learnt in their PhD.

AN EMPLOYER-LED PROGRAMME:  AkzoNobel; AWE; Centronic; Deloitte; IOP; Kindred Group; NVIDIA; Observatory Science Centre; QinetiQ; Royal Surrey County Hospital and WP Thompson.

SPEAKERS: Ian Chapman, Institute of Physics, Dr Rowena Fletcher-Wood, Things we don’t know, Prof Seb Oliver, University of Sussex, Sarah Spencer, University of Sussex and Dr Beccie Whittaker, Oasis Academy, South Bank.

Thank you to Kay Pearson, Employability and Professional Skills Adviser, University of Surrey for sourcing three excellent consultancy challenges and Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator for making this such a successful event!

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAID:

  • My PhD can lead to an enjoyable non-academic career.
  • My reasons for attending were because I wanted an idea about what to do after my degree. I was hoping to get connections with employers. Furthermore, I wanted to meet friends from previous events again. Even though I come from a chemistry background doesn’t mean I can’t do a “hard core” physics job. My different background might even be useful to provide a fresh view.
  • The consultancy challenge was a very good experience! Despite having no background in nuclear physics or maybe because it was something completely differently I enjoyed the intensive research.
  • The most valuable thing to me that I take away from the summer school is that there are more opportunities out there than I thought and I learnt to keep an open mind.

WINNERS OF THE CONSULTANCY CHALLENGE: 

AgFE: Team 3:  Ilya Antonov, RHUL, Michael Hubbard, Surrey, Ying Liu, QMUL and Charlie Nation, Sussex.

Centronic: Team 1:  Matthew Russell, Southampton, Sean Lawlor, RHUL, Malin Schulz, Surrey and Clark Baker, QMUL.

Observatory Science Centre: Team 1:  Harry Fox, The OU, Azizah Hosein, Sussex, Vassilia Spathis, Kent and Elizabeth Swann, Portsmouth.

People’s Choice:  Centronic Team 3: Michele de Leo, Surrey, Kareem Farrag, Southampton, Callum Grove, Surrey, Örs Istok, Surrey.

Congratulations!

27Apr/18

No point in discovering new things if you don’t communicate them!

On Tuesday, 24 April 2018, 18 SEPnet PGRs attended GRADnet’s Science Communication Skills Workshop at Queen Mary University of London in Mile End, London.  PGRs experienced hands-on training from Chris White and Rowena Fletcher-Wood who are professional science communicators.

PGRs learned how to write about their research for departmental blogs and articles and how to present their research at events such as Pint of Science, Science Showoff, Soapbox Science, 3 Minute Wonder and many more.

Attendees explored ways of sharing their research with many different audiences and learnt the importance of being able to communicate with non-specialist groups.  Attendees were advised to go and practise explaining their research to a friend in the pub or a café and to extract the main points of their research without getting lost in the details.

PGRs who attended said: “There were lots of useful ideas and tips in the first talk and the second was very engaging and idea generating”; “Both sessions exceeded expectations & highlighted some things I hadn’t thought about.”

Thank you to Chris and Rowena for their contribution and Dominic Galliano, SEPnet Outreach Director, and Cristobel Soares-Smith, GRADnet Administrator, for organising this event.

16Apr/18

Exactly what a PhD student in Condensed Matter needs: A workshop on Strong Correlations!

The Strong correlations workshop took place on 11-13 April 2018 at Old Thorns in Liphook and was organised by Dr Sam Carr from the University of Kent.

11 students attended the workshop and valued the small group tutorials.  Attendees confirmed the workshop was pitched at the right level and was very useful:

“The lectures are exactly what a PhD student in (strong correlations) condensed matter physics needs from the beginning and provides a networking opportunity for students from other institutions.”

The best aspects of the programme were : “Variation from easy to hard theory, experimental connection, some actual research talks, socialising and soft skills.  It was really nice to mix PhD students, postdocs and lecturers in an informal and small-scale setting – inspiring!”

Thank you to Dr Sam Carr, Dr Jorge Quintanilla, Dr Silvia Ramos, Dr Sudeep Gosh, Dr Xavier Montiel from the University of Kent, Dr Anna Posazhennikova and Dr Matthias Eschrig from Royal Holloway University of London, for their participation in delivering this workshop and Cristobel Soares-Smith, GRADnet Administrator, who organised the workshop logistics.

Dr Silvia Ramos gives her lecture on “Probes in Condensed Matter”.

 

28Mar/18

Organise your own 2-day Residential Physics Conference or Workshop 2019 – Apply for GRADnet Funding

Student-led Conference April 2019 at a SEPnet Institution to be confirmed

Following very successful events in 2015/6, 2016/7 and 2017/18,  GRADnet is once again offering SEPnet PhD students the opportunity to organise and run two-day residential workshops or mini-conferences on a Physics topic of their choosing.  Student organisers will be expected to encourage the active participation of their peers in giving talks and / or poster presentations. In addition organisers will be able to invite external speakers to attend should they wish.

We anticipate that two workshops on different topics will be organised in the following areas:

  • astrophysics / astronomy
  • particle / nuclear physics
  • condensed matter / atomic physics
  • quantum technology
  • theoretical physics
  • or any other area of physics with sufficient critical mass across the SEPnet partners to run a successful workshop.

Moreover inter-disciplinary bids on themes merging any of the above physics areas are also welcome.

A budget of up to £4500 will be available to each workshop that can be used to:

  • Support the attendance (travel, accommodation and food) of SEPnet students (15-30)
  • Invite and support the participation of high profile presenters
  • Cover any other reasonable expenses.

The two selected workshops will run in parallel on dates in April 2019 sharing, catering and residential facilities at a SEPnet Institution.

There will be an introductory session targeted at those considering making a bid for a conference via video conference on Tuesday, 15 May 2018 at 11-12. The purpose of this session will be to:

  • Explain details of the scheme in greater depth;
  • Offer students the opportunity to ask questions;
  • Offer students potentially interested in organising a workshop the opportunity to network and develop their workshop ideas.

Please e-mail gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk if you wish to join the introductory session on the 15th May.

To make a bid:  Fill in the form here: Student Led Workshops Call 2018 Final with all the relevant details and return to gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk by 8 June 2018.

27Mar/18

Student-led conference 21-23 March 2018 – A great success!

The student-led conferences took place 21-23 March at the University of Southampton with over 60 delegates taking part in two parallel conferences:

  • Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology led by Simon King at the University of Southampton
  • From Micrometres to Megaparsecs” organised by Justyn Campbell-White from the University of Kent.

Simon King shares his views on why he wanted to organise a conference for postgraduate research students and the skills he acquired during the process:

“When I was presented with the opportunity to organise my own conference in high energy physics, I was very keen to pursue it! I was not exactly sure what would be required, but I thought it would be a great occasion to participate in the other side of conferences than just attending (many of) them!

In practise, the vast majority of the work was undertaken by the fantastic Cristobel Soares-Smith, GRADnet Administrator, who was in charge of all of the practical aspects which allowed me to focus on the scientific programme.

Me (and my co-organiser on the astronomy department) Justyn Campbell-White were the lead organisers of our respective conferences, but not without help from many other students! I would like to personally thank Sonali Mohapatra, Jack Setford and Alex Titterton for their help in finding scientific speakers and shaping the conference to what it was. There were many unexpected challenges, including dealing with last-minute changes to the programme, and trying to satisfy all participants from a wide variety of fields; but I think this was a success. Many thanks to the invited speakers who did an excellent job of providing a general introduction to their respective topics, and to the students who did a wonderful job explaining their current research.

The whole conference went very smoothly, and it was a fantastic opportunity to practise skills required for a career in academia beyond publishing papers. I am very thankful to GRADnet, and Cristobel for allowing me this opportunity and I would highly recommend it to any PhD student!”

The student led conference Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology was exciting and varied. The balance of student talks to invited speakers was ideal as both a networking opportunity and as an inviting atmosphere in which to present PhD research. I was unfortunately unable to give a talk myself, however I’ve been inspired by the organisers dedication to providing an excellent experience and would very much like to organise such a conference myself! Also Cristobel is amazing.” (Azaria Coupe, third year PhD student at the University of Southampton)

See “From Micrometres to Megaparsecs” conference Twitter feed here.

Attendees from both conferences take a break:

 

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, Development Director, EH Enterprises, Learning and development for scientists and engineers, who ran the 2-day entrepreneurship training for UGs and PGRs in June 2017 and the competition, and Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator, 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.