All posts by Veronica Benson


SEPnet celebrates Women’s International Day!

SEPnet continues to celebrate the achievements of female physicists and encourage young women to pursue careers with physics through its outreach and employability programmes.

While only 20% of physics students are female, 30% of students attending SEPnet and GRADnet events are female and 40% of summer placements are secured by female physics students. Role models and case studies are important sources of inspiration and you can read about some of our successful alumni and placement students on our website.

All SEPnet partners are signed up to Project Juno and Athena SWAN to support gender equality and women’s career progression with 3 partners achieving Champion status to date. SEPnet partners share good practice through SEPnet’s diversity workshops and E&D Champions LinkedIn group. SEPnet and IOP’s successful joint careers panel for female physicists has led to the creation of the SEPnet Careers Forum for Female Physicists, a supportive group, where students and female physicists in business and academia can share issues related to women’s progression in the workplace.

Through its Outreach & Public Engagement programme, SEPnet continues to explore innovative projects that tackle Gender Stereotyping in Schools. The results of our pilot project, Shattering Stereotypes, are available on our website, including twelve recommendations for other physics departments who are looking to run similar projects. SEPnet will be using this learning to run the project in the 2018 / 19 academic year. If your school is interested please do get in touch with the outreach and public engagement team.


SEPnet Summer Placements 2018 now open for applications!

Over 80 SEPnet summer placements are being advertised to eligible SEPnet students from the beginning of March. The projects offered are varied, challenging and exciting and are already attracting lots of interest from students.

2nd and 3rd (non-final) year physics student at SEPnet partner universities are eligible to apply. Some placements are also open to SEPnet PhD students.

Students should contact their SEPnet Employer Engagement Officer or email to find out more. Click here for more information.


PRACTICAL INNOVATION Workshops for GRADnet Students

Friday 9 February, University of Sussex
Thursday 15 March, Queen Mary University of London
10:30am to 3:00pm

Thinking about how to commercialise your research, or an idea, and turn it into a product or service? Perhaps you are interested in a career in business or knowing how businesses are created. Would you like to start thinking like an entrepreneur? Or as someone that wants to change the world through innovation.

In this workshop you will learn and practise some real business thinking. We’ll introduce you to a modern and practical tool-set for evaluating new business ideas and innovations and help you get off the starting block.

Book your place at Eventbrite via these links:  Sussex  and QMUL.

The same workshop is taking place on both days, so come along to the one most convenient for you. PGR students from any SEPnet department are welcome.

Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.  For enquiries, email:

Workshop Leader: Julia Shalet, Product Doctor
Julia spent the first 15 years of her career managing products – at one end of the scale generating new revenues of £1m per annum for a start-up and at the other managing a product portfolio of £350m per annum in Corporate. In 2006 she set up independently as Product Doctor providing user and revenue-centric product coaching for innovators – often helping them to apply tried and tested toolkits to make successful products. She runs courses at UCL, coaches at Pearson Education and has worked with many funded start-ups including Fitbug.


SEPnet Summer Placements 2018 – Do you have a project/work experience for a physics undergraduate?

SEPnet organises an annual placement scheme for physics students at the above universities and is seeking 8-week plus projects in industry or research in areas such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, product design and testing or science communication.

Who can apply?
The scheme is aimed at any organisations interested in recruiting physics graduates, or who can offer valuable business experience, including large companies, SMEs, start-ups, research institutions, charities and NGOs.

Benefits to employers
• Early access to bright, numerate students with excellent problem-solving and IT skills
• Enables you to carry out projects you would not normally have time for
• Provides a fresh perspective on your business challenges
• All advertising, administration and placement support is handled by SEPnet
• Some funding is available for SMEs
• Read our short case studies

What employers have said:
‘Very satisfied with the whole process, organised and straightforward, with good students.’
‘We took SEPnet students for the second year running and have been very impressed with the calibre, their capabilities and the general high standard. For your records we have just made a permanent job offer to one of the students…’.

For more information:
Visit for further information and to register your placement project, or projects, online by Friday 9 February. Email


SEPnet Sharing Good Practice in HE STEM Equality & Diversity

SEPnet organised a one-day workshop for Equality & Diversity and Project Juno champions to share good practice in addressing barriers to female progression in STEM on 4 December.

Paul Walton of University of York highlighted the barriers people put up to progressing gender equality and what solutions are available to deal with them. Averil Macdonald, Diversity Lead for SEPnet, looked at attracting students, recruiting staff and how to reach a wider pool of candidates through the use of inclusive language in marketing.  Sally Jordan of The Open University focused on learning gain, attainment gaps and student diversity while Peter Main of Kings College London described how to implement an effective fully transparent workload allocation model and led discussion on whether the long hours’ culture could be overcome.  Finally, Tracey Berry of Royal Holloway provided top tips on how to submit effective Athena SWAN and Project Juno Applications.

You can sign up to the SEPnet Diversity JISCMAIL group to share ideas, information and news related to equality and diversity. Email Cristobel Soares-Smith at if you wish to join this group.


Another successful SEPnet Students’ Expo

This week the annual Students’ Expo in London provided an opportunity for summer placement students to showcase their projects while on placement through presentations and posters to over 160 employers, academics and fellow students. This year 91 students were successful in finding summer industry and research placements through SEPnet.

The event included morning and afternoon student presentations and poster sessions. Charlotte Lister, our morning speaker, talked about her career journey from SEPnet summer placement student to physics graduate to project manager at Ultra Electronics (through networking at a previous SEPnet Expo!). Students were able to network with employers and exhibitors throughout the day to discuss potential career and job opportunities.

The standard of the presentations and posters gets better every year.  As one employer put it, ‘I thought all the students were really talented and had worked on such a wide range of fascinating projects’.

This year’s keynote address was delivered by Paul Ettinger, physics graduate and Co-founder of Caffe Nero.  Paul gave an inspiring account of his diverse and entrepreneurial achievements in a talk entitled ‘The Physics of Coffee and Music’.

Congratulations to this year’s 6 poster prize winners – Alex Hunter of Queen Mary whose placement was with Black Swan; Madalina Mironiuc of Southampton (Colour Holographic); Stephanie Bennett of Royal Holloway (NPL); Grace Maxted of Kent (Tesla Engineering); Toyah Overton of Royal Holloway (University of Southampton) and Sholto Bateson of Sussex (eOsphere).  Each won a copy of Jon Butterworth’s ‘A Map of the Invisible’ sponsored by the Institute of Physics.

Alex Hunter

Madalina Mironiuc

Sholto Bateson

Stephanie Bennett

Grace  Maxted

Toyah Overton





SEPnet & University of Hertfordshire Degree Apprenticeship Consultation

Wednesday 6 December 12.00 – 15.00
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield

This half-day meeting, including lunch, will:
• explore the demand for physics-related apprenticeships by developing an understanding of the skills and workforce needs in industry
• identify the potential for university physics departments to support the development of new degree apprenticeships or implement existing standards.
• generate ideas for possible collaboration on degree apprenticeship development, involving the Institute for Physics and SEPnet member departments.

Employers of physics graduates, relevant professional bodies, sector skills councils, local enterprise partnerships, HE physics academics.

To join this meeting and for further details, contact:


SEPnet’s annual Expo will celebrate students’ placement success

The annual Students’ Expo takes place on 29 November in London and provides an opportunity for students to showcase their placement projects through presentations and posters to over 150 employers, academic tutors and peers.

This year 91 students from across the SEPnet universities were successful in finding industry and research placements and will present their posters at the Expo.

The event includes morning and afternoon presentations and poster sessions and provides a great opportunity for employers, academics and physics students to network and discuss placements, jobs and collaboration. Prizes, sponsored by Institute of Physics, are offered for the best posters.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Paul Ettinger – a physics graduate now entrepreneur and Co-founder of Caffe Nero.


Female physics students take control of their careers

On Wednesday 15 November the IOP held its annual event focusing on promoting career opportunities for female physicists. ‘Taking Control of your Career as a Female Physicist’, organised in partnership with SEPnet, set out to communicate the range of career opportunities for female physicists and provide a platform for attendees to discuss career-related issues in a supportive environment.

Panellists from industry and academia shared their experiences and provided tips and advice on their career journey and the resilience needed to carve out a successful career path. The attendees commented on what inspirational role models the panellists were and on how motivated and well informed they felt about their career options.

One student commented “(i)t is really hard to meet female physicists outside academia so this is why I attended this event and I feel inspired and supported. It’s also proven to be a great networking opportunity”. Panellist, Rikki Douglas of Ultra Electronics said “(i)t is refreshing to see so many committed career-minded female physicists in one place.”


IOP/SEPnet Joint PhD Careers Event Makes PGRs Aware of Their Many Options

On 8 November the Institute of Physics and SEPnet co-hosted a careers and speed networking event for post graduate researchers chaired by Mark Telling, Senior Research Scientist at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and IOP Vice President (membership).

Students had the opportunity to interact with physicists in business and research institutions including representatives from Diamond Light Source; IBM; ICG Portsmouth; MP Capital; NPL; Rank Group; Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd to learn about different career pathways open to individuals with a PhD in physics.

Mark Telling described how ‘this event not only promotes possible academic career opportunities but also provides a much needed platform for those sectors which depend on physics, and skilled physicists, but for whom career openings may not be immediately visible.’

The event was a great success with one Surrey PGR student summing up the event by saying ‘it was great to have panellists from all different walks of life and who have taken totally different career paths – it really helped put into perspective the plurality of options that are available to us as physics students.”

Veronica Benson, SEPnet Employer Liaison Director added that ‘collaborating with the IOP on this event has certainly enabled us to offer a richer experience to our postgraduate researchers.’ The IOP and SEPnet look forward to collaborating on similar events in the future.