Category Archives: Uncategorized

28Feb/20

Benefits of attending a GRADnet Winter School as an ECR!

An ECR  from the University of Portsmouth recently attended the GRADnet Winter School, 17-19 February 2020 at Cumberland Lodge and highlights the benefits of attending:

“I attended the GRADnet Winter School at Cumberland Lodge, which was focused on developing soft skills like communication, management, leadership and team dynamics/structure.  As a postdoc I found the school to be useful, particularly in helping me to reflect on my own behaviour and approach to research projects. I work in a field where project teams range from a handful of people to teams of hundreds, so being able to better assess my own performance and that of the teams I work in will be valuable to me.

We covered a wide range of skills and topics. Although as a postdoc I have had many opportunities to practice some of these, such as presentation skills, I found it beneficial to cover all of the subjects within a relaxed and supportive environment. As a result, I will feel more confident taking on leadership roles in the future. In addition, the school was a fantastic networking opportunity allowing me to mix with other ECRs and the session leaders from across the South East.”

If you are a SEPnet ECR and have considered attending either the GRADnet Winter or Summer School, you are very welcome to sign up.  Look out for our 2020-21 GRADnet Training Programme which will be published in September.

20Feb/20

Selfie Shoot and Spaghetti Challenge at GRADnet Winter School

The GRADnet winter school took place on 17-19 February 2020 at Cumberland Lodge, Great Park Windsor for SEPnet postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.

This 3-day residential course was designed by Mark Horner, Performance Pathways to develop essential skills for successful collaboration including motivation and management of both self and others.

Delegates built spaghetti and marshmallows structures to develop an understanding of team dynamics.  L-R:  Callum Grove, University of Surrey; Caitlin Walsh, RHUL; Dr Brianna Smart, University of Hertfordshire; Yannick Kluth, University of Sussex and Leon Schoonderwoerd, University of Kent.

The “Selfie Orienteering Project” involved 5 teams running around the Great Park Windsor, taking selfies at 20 key points armed with a map and description of the key points. Delegates had 20 minutes to plan their strategy and route.

Selfie at the “Twisted Tree” from the top:  Shing-Cheung Lee, Dr Giovanni Mirouh, Gabriele Parisi, University of Surrey; Benjamin Man, University of Sussex and Florence Roberts, RHUL.

Part of the programme included a real non-technical challenge from BlueOptima, who monitor software development productivity, quality and cost to understand global positioning.  Delegates had to convince, pitch and present their solution to the challenge.

Congratulations to the winners of the BlueOptima challenge. L-R: Mark Horner , Performance Pathways with Dr Andrew Williamson, University of Portsmouth; Duy Bui, BlueOptima; Giri Man, RHUL; Stephanie Biddlecombe and Matt Brunet, University of Surrey.

Attendees welcomed the opportunity to meet potential employers and pick up employability skills. Dr Joe Allen, RBA Acoustics and Jenika Karsan, 4most, gave insightful advice on transitioning from academia into industry.

Delegates enjoyed networking with people from other institutions and said the event was “fun, informative, helpful and enjoyable!”

The next Winter School will be15-17 February 2021 at Cumberland Lodge.

27Jan/20

Students learn how to commercialise their research at Turning Science into Business Workshop

In collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, SEPnet and Julia Shalet, Product Doctor,  a highly interactive and enjoyable two-day workshop was held in December 2019 for postgraduate researchers at Bushy House in Teddington.

The mission was to practise a commercial way of thinking and see how ideas arising from science can be turned into viable business propositions. Working with real case studies, delegates wrote hypotheses, identified their riskiest assumptions, wrote questions they needed answers to, thought through how to find customers to ask, set measures for their responses, practised conducting interviews and worked through how to analyse research output.

Delegates were then asked to map the whole business up using a tool called the Business Model Canvas (from Strategyser) to see how to create sustainable business models.

Linden Fradet, University Liaison Manager at NPL invited Mason Rowbottom, a PhD student living and breathing the experience of making a business out of his research ideas.  Mason gave delegates an insight into how he has co-founded several companies in 3D printing while doing his PhD at the University of Sheffield.

Participants said the event was: “very informative and practical”; “interactive with useful tools”; “very clear, concise delivery of all the business elements” and “a very useful introduction to business… great networking…”

Prof Sean Ryan, SEPnet Executive Director, said: “the event ran extremely well, with all participants scoring it higher than 8/10 and five participants giving it full marks at 10/10.  SEPnet has worked with Julia on several similar but shorter events before.  This was the first time we used a two-day format and that seemed to work very well as it gave more time for participants to apply what they were learning at each step to their case studies; time to learn from critique given to other groups and it meant that they had a chance to practise and improve on their own research interview skills.”

SEPnet looks forward to collaborating again with NPL and Product Doctor in the next academic year.

24Jan/20

SEPnet Summer Placements 2020! Do you have a project/work experience for a physics or maths undergraduate or PhD student?

SEPnet organises over 80 summer placements a year for physics, and now maths, 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 or maths 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 the SEPnet team
• Some funding available for SMEs
If you offer 2 placements, SEPnet can fund the 2nd undergraduate

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 http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/students-employers/information-for-employers/. Register your placement project, or projects, online here here by Friday 7 February. Early projects will be prioritised.

20Jan/20

GRADnet Machine Learning & AI Workshop: Great interactive sessions!

The GRADnet Machine Learning and AI workshop was attended by over 40 PGRs and postdocs on 15-16 January 2020 at QMUL in Mile End Road, London.

Delegates were interested in learning about AI and ML techniques and the potential ways they can be implemented in their own research.  The diversity of talks and tutorials was welcomed by everyone and the support available from all the speakers.

“Data wrangling was great because we got to learn how to use R, Python, SQL” ; “hands-on tutorials and exercises with support were the best aspects of the programme” and “speakers were engaging” were some of the comments from delegates.

SEPnet would like to thank all the speakers and QMUL staff who contributed in making this workshop a success and thank you QMUL for hosting the event.

Joe Davies, PGR at QMUL who kindly ran one of the sessions said: My first time running my own tutorial/talk using my own coding examples and it went so well! Managed to get people finding pulsars using Machine Learning and had such an interesting discussion afterwards #datascience #machinelearning #GRADnet” .  See here for further information.

GRADnet would like to offer this workshop again as part of their training programme in 2020-21 as many PGRs are interested in data science as a career.

Dr Adrian Bevan, Deputy Director of the Institute of Applied Data Science, QMUL introducing Dr Alkistis Pourtsidou, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Reader in Cosmology, QMUL,  before her talk on “Reinforcement Learning”.

 

 

 

 

 

20Dec/19

SEPnet Summer Placements 2020! Do you have a project/work experience for a physics or maths undergraduate or PhD student?

SEPnet (South East Physics Network) is a consortium of university physics departments – Hertfordshire, Kent, Portsmouth, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, Southampton, Surrey, Sussex and the Open University.

The scheme
SEPnet organises over 80 summer placements a year for physics and, now maths, 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 or maths 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 the SEPnet team
• Some funding available for SMEs
• Read our short case studies here

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 this page.  Register your placement project, or projects, online here by Friday 7 February. Early projects will be prioritised.

12Dec/19

Building Inclusivity and Bridging the Attainment Gap

SEPnet’s 3rd annual diversity workshop, hosted by Surrey this week, focused on a  range of key issues facing universities today. Professor Averil Macdonald OBE led the day by describing the systemic barriers to attracting female and BAME students to do physics pre-16 and beyond and explained why equality of experience isn’t equality of opportunity. Peter Main, Head of Physics, King’s College London went on to challenge myths about the BAME attainment gap suggesting traditional explanations such as choice of curriculum and unconscious bias in assessment sit uncomfortably with recent data that show that attendance and attainment may be linked.

Alex Johl, Head of Operations for Student Experience and Wellbeing at Birmingham, reflected whether HE is making our students unwell and offered practical solutions for embedding wellbeing into the undergraduate, PGR and staff experience.  Empowering and supporting PhD students was the focus of discussion where ‘imposter syndrome’ can be a real barrier for some students. Noelia Noel in Astrophysics at Surrey suggested we need to change the medical practice approach of ‘I went through this so you should too’ and support students to share concerns about coping as well as giving them the option of leaving academia to pursue other careers without feeling they’ve failed.

Finally, Sally Jordan, Head of School and Josie Fraser, DVC at The Open University, gave practical advice for addressing lack of diversity at the top describing how choice of language in recruitment adverts can discourage women from applying for roles and setting an example to staff by adopting a healthy work life balance is crucial to changing a long hours culture.

05Dec/19

IOP/SEPnet careers panel event for physics students gets very positive feedback!

IOP hosted an inspiring networking event for physics undergraduates and PhD students yesterday. Panellists from Centronic, Deloitte, Equiniti, University of Surrey, Queen Mary University, Santander, NPL, Leonardo, Micron Semiconductor and Science & Technology Facility Council shared their career journeys and offered valuable tips and advice.

Students loved the round-table format as it made networking less ‘scary’ and enjoyed hearing about the diverse range of career options open to them. They learned that it’s possible to move from academia to industry and that developing and recognising your transferable skills is key to success.

#physics #sepnet #iop

29Nov/19

SEPnet STUDENTS’ EXPO 2019 – ANOTHER GREAT SUCCESS!

130 SEPnet students, employers, academics and guests came together this week to celebrate the achievements of 74 students who carried out a short industry and research placement this summer.

Students successfully presented to over 130 fellow students, employers, academics and guests as well as displaying posters of their projects.

In addition to current student presenters, Mahfuj Ali, Senior Associate at Deloitte, talked about his experience as a former SEPnet student and his career journey to date offering advice and tips to current students. Our keynote speaker, Dame Julia Slingo, also gave an inspiring talk about the important role physics plays in meteorology and her career as a meteorologist and former Chief Scientist at the Met Office.

Congratulations to the 6 poster prize winners:
• Stefan Todd of Surrey on placement at Earth-i
• Joe Stickland of Southampton at IS-Instruments
• Gurjeet Kohlon of Queen Mary at Lumi Space
• Emily Mitcheson-Smith of Southampton at NPL
• Marina Arnaudova of Royal Holloway at Hertfordshire
• Molly Burkmar of Portsmouth at Winchester Science Centre.

A call for summer projects for 2020 will go out from December.  Watch this space!

15Nov/19

IOP/SEPnet Career Panel Event, Wednesday 4 December 2019, 15.00 – 19.30, IOP London N1

The Institute of Physics and SEPnet are organising a joint career event for all physics students. This event will give an insight into the broad range of career paths open to physics graduates including PhD graduates.

This event aims to help, inspire and motivate you to explore the careers options open to you in a welcoming and friendly environment. You will hear from a range of panellists, including graduates and PhD graduates in physics-related fields who have gone on to pursue interesting, successful careers in diverse areas – both in and outside academia.

You will have time to question our panellists in groups and to chat informally with them and other students over refreshments.

You will meet panellists from Deloitte, UK Atomic Energy Authority, Equiniti, University of Surrey, Queen Mary, Santander, NPL, Leonardo, Micron Semiconductor and Science & Technology Facility Council who will speak about their career journeys and offer tips.

This event is free to members of the IOP. Non-members pay a £30 registration fee. Membership of the IOP starts at £15 for undergraduates.

Register for the event here: https://lnkd.in/gw-9rXr