Category Archives: Uncategorized

13Jul/18

Where do physics PhD graduates go?

Data collected on 95 SEPnet PhDs graduating in 2016 and 2017 shows that more are entering business and technology careers with many taking on roles as data analysts (35% of PhD graduates in non-academic roles compared with 22% who graduated in 2014-5).

46% of PhD graduates took up non-academic roles in line with research which shows 47% of PhD science graduates find their first job outside academia.

With only 3.5% of science PhD graduates remaining in permanent academic roles, it is important that they have opportunities to meet potential employers from a range of different sectors and industries and develop their employability skills.

For more information about placements, industry mentoring and employer events, and to view our infograph, visit http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/sepnet-graduate-network/gradnet-employer-engagement/

 

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!

15Jun/18

SEPnet Industry Survey 2018 – employers keen to engage with university physics departments

56 representatives of SMEs, large corporates, NGOs and research institutions from a range of sectors completed our recent survey to find out how SEPnet can better support business needs and address skills shortages through greater collaboration with universities.

Key findings:
• 59% have had contact with a university physics department on matters of knowledge exchange in the last 5 years – the majority of these interactions eg KTPs, commissioning research etc have been successful
• There are still issues around responding to SMEs more quickly, the costs involved in collaborating on projects and understanding around IP
• Seeking graduates with specific skills was by far the most important reason for businesses wishing to engage with universities
• The most important skills and attributes which employers would like to see developed in physics graduates are: commercial awareness; programming; communication; practical and technical skills
• Many employers would be willing to participate in an industry panel to input into the physics curriculum
• 60% have employed physics PhD graduates and value their relevant expertise, mathematical skills and problem solving ability
• In addition, employers of physics PhD look for the ability to apply theories to real-world problems, flexibility, an enquiring mind, persistence and enthusiasm.

To read the short survey, click here: SEPnet Industry Survey 2018

14May/18

Career Pathways 2018 for Women in STEM, Tuesday 12 June, 11.00-18.00, Institute of Physics, London W1

The Women in Materials Group are delighted to announce the return of Career Pathways for Women in STEM this year. The event is kindly sponsored and hosted by the Institute of Physics and will be held at their central office located near Regent’s Park, London.

This event is a unique forum for inspiring female role models, who have used a science degree to underpin their careers, to share their employment experiences and challenges to date. Speakers will be well-established professionals and eminent academics representing a diverse range of disciplines; from science policy and academia to entrepreneurship and engineering. You will also hear from recent graduates about the challenges faced make their early career choices.

This is an exciting opportunity to network, ask questions and engage with your fellow students in a supportive environment. All undergraduates and postgraduates are encouraged to attend, regardless of gender or academic background.

To register interest, please sign up via this page: https://www.events.iop.org/d/f/worldwide/page.html

For more information about the event and speakers, please click attending on Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1984754218508199/

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”.

 

13Apr/18

SEPnet Summer Placement Report 2017/18 shows students continue to perform well

Students increasingly see the value of placements for developing their employability skills and continue to perform well on placement.

Key findings showed:

• The number of placements has increased from 38 in 2009 to 91 in 2017.
• 20% of the eligible cohort applied for placements in 2017 and more students are pursuing their own and signing up to other schemes.
• 42% of placements were successfully secured by female students
• 57% of placements were funded by employers, Santander Internship Scheme and WP funding
• Students rated programming as the most relevant element of their course
• Organisations receiving the most applications were ICG, University of Sussex, Royal Marsden Hospital, AWE and eOsphere.
• CVs were well-presented but covering letters need to be more relevant and students need to research organisations better beforehand.
• Performance at interview was important in securing a placement but enthusiasm was equally important.
• Employers rated students’ top 3 skills as self-management, problem solving and communication – the same skills that students felt they improved most.
• 5 students had their placements extended and 7 were known to have been offered graduate roles

You can read the full report here: SEPnet Summer Placement Report 2017-18

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.