All posts by Cristobel Soares-Smith

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.

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.

30Oct/17

GRADnet Moving Forward for 2nd Years event is a success!

GRADnet held their first “Moving forward for second years” event on Wednesday 18 October in London which was attended by over 65 postgraduate researchers.

There were workshops on: Creating impact, How to write a successful fellowship application, Research data management, Unconscious bias and  Writing better software for better research.

Thank you to all our speakers, Julia Shalet, Product Doctor, Professor Peter McDonald, University of Surrey and GRADnet Director, Juan Bicarregui, Science & Technology Facilities Council, Dr Alice Motes, University of Surrey, Professor Averil MacDonald OBE, SEPnet Diversity and Impact Lead and Dr Mike Jackson, Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre.

Feedback from delegates was very positive.  Comments received:

“Interactive, fun, insightful, inspiring – challenged the ideas we had, made us think about real world application”

“Fantastic as I think it dealt with some of the fundamental problems I have in communicating my research in a concise manner.”

“I learned that bias is far more ingrained in our minds than I previously imagined….Overall, it raised my awareness of the subject which I very much appreciate.”

“Best workshop I’ve ever done.”

SEPnet hopes to run a similar event in 2018.

 

30Oct/17

GRADnet holds another successful Induction Day for 120 PGRs!

The GRADnet Induction Day was held on Wednesday, 25 October in London and attended by 120 first year postgraduate students from across SEPnet.

Workshops on LaTeX, MATLAB, Python, IOP Getting your research published and Organising meetings and conferences were run in parallel during the morning and afternoon.

Thank you to our speakers Dr Dave Faux, University of Surrey, Dr Tim Kinnear, University of Kent, Professor Peter McDonald, University of Surrey and GRADnet Director, Simon Harris and Tom Sharpe, Institute of Physics – Publishing and Mrs Kay, Pearson, University of Surrey.

Feedback from delegates was very positive.  Comments included:

“It was very good to get someone working in the industry to share their knowledge”

LaTeX: “Worked well doing the exercises in chunks with supplied coding….”

“Very nice and interactive session. I enjoyed group work and the time allocated for the exercises as appropriate.  Very useful tips about organising a meeting/conference.”

Delegates were introduced to the forthcoming GRADnet events taking place during this academic year.

SEPnet hopes to run the same event for first year postgraduates in October 2018.