Category Archives: conference


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.


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.


Call for Abstracts for Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018: From Micrometres to Megaparsecs

Call for Abstracts for Student-led Conference 21-23 March 2018: From Micrometres to Megaparsecs

Who: Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers from the SEPnet region with research interests in this year’s conference topics. A limited number of places are available to early stage  researchers beyond the region.

What: Two parallel research conferences proposed and organised by students wanting to advance their research and extend their collaborations. The conferences include talks by invited speakers and students as well as poster and recreational sessions.

When: 21-23 March 2018  (Arrival 18:00 on 21 March 2018)

Where:  Murray Lecture Building, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton. (Accommodation at Glen Eyre Complex, Highfield Campus)

Numbers: Circa 35 delegates

This conference aims to bring together students from all areas of astronomy research. From micrometeorites at Kent, to cosmological surveys at Portsmouth, the GRADnet groups and astronomy departments cover all sizes and scales of the Universe. Students will gain knowledge of a wide range of research techniques applied to the various size scales, and see where such techniques may cross over and enhance their own research; e.g. how the physics of planetary system formation can scale up to galactic formation.

Organisers:  Sam Billington, Justyn Campbell-White, University of Kent, and Ben Mawdsley, University of Portsmouth

The parallel conference is Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology and aims to bring together students from all areas of particle physics research. There will be cross-over lectures which are relevant to students of both astronomy and particle physics.

Abstract deadline 30 November 2017:  Submit your abstract here Once your abstract has been accepted you will be notified by the conference organiser to register for this conference.

The deadline to register is 7 February 2018.  

Click here to register.




Cristobel Soares-Smith
SEPnet Graduate Network Administrator
01483 682270


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SEPnet is a consortium of 9 university physics departments at Hertfordshire, Kent, OU, Portsmouth, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, Southampton, Surrey, Sussex.


Southampton Quantum Light and Matter (QLM) Summer School

Registration Now Open!
We look forward to seeing you at the School!

Are you an experimental physicist? Are the lab gremlins getting you down? Does none of your data make sense? You could give up and end it all… but you should come to the QLM Summer School 2017! There are a limited number of places for PGRs from SEPnet institutions.

Now in its third year, the QLM Summer School is a chance to receive practical, hands-on advice to develop new skills, improve your lab productivity and kickstart your future career.  Taking place at Bournemouth University Talbot Campus from the 30th August – 1st September 2017, we are offering a varied selection of talks, workshops and activities to help unleash your full scientific potential whether you’re just starting your PhD and feel completely lost, or approaching the end of your PhD… and feel completely lost!

Accommodation, travel to and from the summer school and meals are provided!

Find out more here.

To Register click on the registration tab or follow the link below:


Deadline 2nd June: GRADnet Summer School, 3-6 July, NPL

The GRADnet Summer School is to take place from the 3rd to 6th July 2017 at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington. The deadline for registration is June 2nd 2017.

Who:  This school is for physics, and physics related,   post-graduate researchers.

When:  3-6 July 2017

Where:  National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LW Free to attend. Accommodation is provided at the Travelodge in Teddington and rooms are en suite twin-bedded rooms (2 people sharing).  Travel expenses to and from the venue can be claimed through SEPnet.

Register here.  Registration deadline 3 June 2017.

What:  A 4-day residential school that explores the wide range of opportunities open to PhD physicists.  This intensive school comprises 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 runs throughout the 4 days. High-tech companies come with real problems and invite students, working in teams, to create solutions using the skills they have learnt in their PhD.

Other companies come and offer workshops designed to show what life in a given industry sector type is like and what kind of work is involved.The whole event is threaded through with short sessions led by expert speakers looking at some of the issues that confront those working in science: Outreach, Impact, IPR, Ethics and the like.

Employers participating include:  Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Fourth State Medicine; IBM; National Physical Laboratory; Oxford Instruments; RBA Acoustics; Things We Don’t Know; Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and WP Thompson.

This workshop contributes 16 hours towards physics skills training and 8 hours towards professional skills training.

2016 Summer School

Group Photo from the 2016 GRADnet Summer School at Herstmonceux


Call for Proposals: Student Led Conferences 2018

Student-led Conference April/March 2018 at a SEPnet Institution to be confirmed

 Following very successful events in 2015/6 and 2016/7, GRADnet is once again offering 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 three 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 three selected workshops will run in parallel on dates in April/March (to be confirmed) 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, 23rd May 2017 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 if you wish to join the introductory session on the 23rd May.

To make a bid:  Fill in the attached form with all the relevant details and return to by 9 June 2017.

2017 conference on Functional Scanning Probe Microscopy Techniques

Cristobel Soares-Smith
SEPnet Graduate Network Administrator
01483 682270

Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2017

We are pleased to announce the 8th summer programme, ‘Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2017’ which will take place in London on 10-14 July 2017.  Further details can be found on our website.

The programme has been organised by the Hubbard Theory Consortium and sponsored by SEPnet and by ICAM.

This summer’s programme will have a special emphasis on Entanglement, Non-equilibrium and Thermalization in Quantum Correlated Materials. The programme will include international keynote speakers in addition to presentations by participants.  Please register here if you would like to attend or to give a presentation.  We would particularly encourage PhD students and postdocs to present their ongoing work.  We also have some limited financial support available for students from ICAM nodes across the globe.

Please feel free to forward this announcement to anyone you believe may be interested.

Kind regards,
Giovanni Sordi

on behalf of the Hubbard Theory Consortium:

Piers Coleman
Matthias Eschrig
Sam Carr
Jorge Quintanilla
Andrew Green
Keith Refson
Frank Kruger
Ryan Barnett
Anna Posazhennikova
Andrew Ho
Derek Lee
Toby Perring
Giovanni Sordi

Giovanni Sordi
Hubbard Theory Consortium
Department of Physics
Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom


GRADnet Quantum Technologies School 24-26 April 2017

Who:  This school is for physics PhD and post-doctoral researchers working in the area of quantum technologies.

When: 24-26 April 2017 (Arrival 11.30)

Where:  Old Thorns Manor Hotel, Liphook, Hampshire, GU30 7PE.  Free to attend. Accommodation is provided at the Old Thorns and rooms are en suite twin-bedded rooms (2 people sharing).   Travel expenses to and from the venue can be claimed through SEPnet.  A shuttle taxi service will be provided from Liphook station to Old Thorns on Monday morning and Wednesday evening.


PGRs and Postdocs from the SEPnet institutions should register via the VRE here.  Registration deadline 20 March 2017.

If you are a from a non-SEPnet institution you can register your interest to

What:  A 3-day residential workshop led by senior researchers in the SEPnet region comprising lectures, tutorials, seminars and other activities. This school aims to expose PhD students interested in applications of physics which directly rely on the properties of quantum mechanics to perform a function beyond current technological capability.

Sometimes such a device is described as a “machine” whose dynamical degrees of freedom obey Schrodinger’s equations, thereby employing the principles of superposition and entanglement to achieve its task.

The School will be taught by senior researchers from within SEPnet and by invited speakers from beyond. A total of six sessions are planned that will span different directions in which quantum technology is progressing, including:

  • Quantum computation
  • Quantum simulation
  • Quantum sensing / metrology
  • Quantum communications.

In addition, the School will explore key enabling technologies.

Speakers: Erika Andersson, Heriot-Watt University, Sugato Bose, University College London, Andreas Freise, University of Birmingham,Eran Ginossar, University of Surrey, Jaewoo Joo, University of Surrey, Richard Josza, University of Cambridge, Pieter Kok, University of Sheffield, Stefan Kuhr, University of Strathclyde, Tobias Lindstrom, NPL, John Morton, University College London, Yuri Ovchinnikov, NPL, Diego Porras, University of Sussex, Alessandro Rossi, University of Cambridge, Tim Spiller, University of York and Seb Weidt, University of Sussex.

Organisers: Dr Eran Ginossar (Surrey), Prof Winfried Hensinger (Sussex), Dr Elinor Irish (Southampton), Dr Silvia Bergamini (Open University), Dr Tobias Lindstrom (National Physical Laboratory).

This workshop contributes 20 hours towards physics skills training.


Student-led Conference: Functional scanning probe microscopy techniques 30-31 March 2017

Functional scanning probe microscopy techniques 30-31 March 2017

Who:  This is for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers from the SEPnet region with research interests in this year’s conference topics.  A limited number of places are available to early stage researchers beyond the region.

When:  30-31 March 2017.  Arrival in the evening on 29 March 2017.

Where:  Building 58, Murray Lecture Theatre Complex, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BJ.  Free to attend.  Single en suite accomodation at the Glen Ayre Complex. Travel expenses to and from the venue can be claimed through SEPnet.

Abstract deadline 16 December 2016:   Please email your submissions to hector.corte [at] using the template here. Once your abstract has been accepted you will be notified by the conference organiser to register for this conference.

This workshop contributes 12 hours towards physics skills training.

Registration: The deadline to register is 28 February 2017.  Register here.

What:  There are two parallel research conferences proposed and organised by students wanting to advance their research and extend their collaborations. The conferences include talks by invited speakers and students as well as poster and recreational sessions.

Confirmed speakers:  Florence Marchi, Institute Néel; Ekaterina Selezneva, NPL, Charles Clifford, NPL; Sonia Antoranz Contera, Oxford University

Functional scanning probe microscopy techniques:  

The conference will be focused on sharing the different functional scanning probe microscopy techniques that PhD students use in their day-to-day. Because scanning probe microscopy is becoming a standard tool in many materials laboratories, it has seen a huge increase in the number of available techniques, with almost no time for training of new users.

Our aim is that each PhD student will be able to share their experience and at the same time will be able to learn from others. The objective is that every student attending the conference will learn at least one new technique relevant for their work.

The main topics will be general applications of atomic force microscopy (AFM), magnetic force microscopy, Kelvin microscopy, nanolithography, scanning tunneling microscopy, electrochemical AFM, force spectroscopy, and thermal AFM. Our aim is to transfer knowledge between users of the different techniques in order to make students aware of the available tools they can use in their research.

If your research involves scanning probe microscopy, then you are welcome to submit an abstract (~300 words) describing your work. Please indicate your preference for an oral presentation (15 minutes) or a poster (A1 size). Travel and accommodation expenses are fully covered by SEPnet and there is no registration fee. Please email your submissions to hector.corte [at] using the template here.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Organisers: Héctor Corte-León (RHUL) Alex Browning (Surrey)

(The parellel session is “A Broadband Look at Astrophysical Processes “.  This meeting will take a broadband look at astrophysical processes across the electromagnetic spectrum.  By introducing different features of the electromagnetic spectrum in an astrophysical context, it will create a foundation for broadband study at different wavebands. Organisers: Peter Boorman, Bella Boulderstone and Chris Frohmaier  (Soton.)