14Mar/17
Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre

Winner of SEPnet video competition to Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre describes his life-changing experience

Star City Trip – February 2017

A few weeks ago I got the chance to fulfil a childhood dream of mine, to train as an astronaut alongside the NASA and Roscosmos men and women in the famous Star City training complex. It was a once in a lifetime experience very few have had the privilege to do.

I started my journey retracing the path of old Russian cosmonauts beginning their journey in Moscow, beginning with a visit to the Kremlin and Red Square, the scene of Yuri Gagarin’s celebratory parade from his great return from space in 1961.  I lived in the site’s dorms with our very own British born NASA astronaut, Mike Foale. If you can imagine having a university floor mate who had been to the ISS and who you’d have informal chats with as you brushed your teeth, you’d get a pretty good picture of what staying in Star City is like.

During my stay I was involved in a range of activities from Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) suit training by Yuri Gagarin’s actual flight instructor, to wilderness survival training and MIR station training. It was unequivocally one of the best weeks I’ve ever experienced. Hopefully one day I can return, not as an enthusiastic student, but as someone who works directly in sending us humans to the edges of space and beyond.

Kieran Hashmi

09Mar/17

Experimental Methods for Condensed Matter School 5-7 March 2017

16 SEPnet PGRs attended the Experimental Methods for Condensed Matter School on the 5-7 March 2017 at Old Thorns in Liphook, Hampshire.

The 3-day residential workshop covered the background science, the methodology, the capability and some dos and don’ts of a range of common spectroscopy, microscopy and characterisation techniques.

Lectures, tutorials, seminars and other activity sessions included:

  • X-ray and neutron scattering
  • Optical spectroscopies
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Electron and atomic force microscopies and surface analysis techniques

One postdoctoral researcher from the University of Hertfordshire, said it was an “excellent location” and the programme had “good structure”.

Thank you to all our speakers: Prof Jon Goff, RHUL; Prof John Watts, Dr Mark Whiting, Dr Izabela Jurewicz, and Prof Peter McDonald, University of Surrey; Prof David Dunstan and Dr Andrei Sapelkin, QMUL, Dr Mischa Zelzer, University of Nottingham, Dr David Voneshen, ISIS STFC and Dr Jon Mitchell, Schlumberger Gould Research.

Congratulations to Lei Tan at QMUL who won a prize for the best “Beam Time Proposal” and Daniel Parrish at the University of Surrey who won the best “3-minute Thesis Presentation”. Sean Ogilvie at the University of Sussex and Jelena Gorbaciova at QMUL were jointly commended for their  3-minute presentations.

Organisers, speakers and SEPnet PGRs at Old Thorns.

08Mar/17

SEPnet Outreach highlights the importance of Shattering Stereotypes on International Women’s Day.

This International Women’s Day, SEPnet Outreach is launching their Shattering Stereotypes Careers Evenings and Physics Graduate Case Studies resources. Across our Shattering Stereotypes Schools we will be holding networking sessions between Year 8 students, their parents and a variety of physics graduates of all genders who have gone to have amazing careers in business, industry and other sectors showing the breadth of opportunities available to them.

Students will be encouraged to look beyond gender and pick graduates they would like to network with based on their and the graduates Type of Scientist (previously developed for SEPnet / WISE’s People Like Me resource).

The evenings will also have a short talk highlighting the issues of Gender Stereotyping and Unconscious Bias. Gender Stereotyping in an issue which affects people of all genders at school. It has an influence on subject choices at GCSEs, which leads to fewer girls taking A-Level physics and therefore also at university. Additionally it affects boys taking up other subjects seen as more traditional girl subjects such as English and psychology. (See Closing Doors / Opening Doors reports by IOP).

If you would like to use these graduates as Case Studies in your own classroom or outreach activities, you can download the set here. The physics graduates in this set span gender, ethnicity, sexuality, career type and type of scientist. They have been developed to showcase the sheer variety of opportunities physics can open up. This could help embed STEM careers in science lessons, break the science = scientist link and help build science capital with students and their parents. (See Aspires Report)

If you studied physics at university and would like to take part in the project, please sign up here. If you can’t make one of our events, we are looking to expand the set of Case Studies and especially include graduates who identify as female and are also from an ethnic minority, so that we can explore issues around intersectionality in future workshops.

The Shattering Stereotypes pilot project is investigating how the SEPnet Outreach can help raise awareness of Gender Stereotyping in schools. The pilot project is taking place across five schools:

An evaluation report will be made available towards the end of 2017.

If you would like more information on the project, please do get in touch.

28Feb/17

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.

Registration:

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 gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk

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.

17Feb/17

PhD Students examine the Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster

This year’s Winter School, entitled “Building your leadership potential”, took place on the 13-15 February 2017 at Cumberland Lodge.  The former royal residence set in the heart of Windsor Great Park was host to 21 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.

Dr Stephen Haywood, Leader of the ATLAS Collaboration, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Dave Harrison, Galileo KMF Project Manager, CGI Group,  gave their perspectives on leadership styles from an employer’s point of view.  Prof Pam Denicolo, University of Reading, Dr Julie Reeves, University of Southampton and Dr Laura Christie, Royal Holloway University of London presented the Belbin Model and sessions on developing personal leadership awareness and skills.

Students also enjoyed the recreational activities available in the games room in the cellar at Cumberland Lodge as well as the historical ghost tour which took place in Windsor town centre.

A 3rd year postgraduate delegate stated the reason why they chose to attend this year’s winter school was because: “SEPnet events are vibrant, engaging and fun. A great way to network with fellow physicists while learning useful employability skills and personal growth”

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Delegates, trainers and SEPnet staff at Cumberland Lodge.

Photographs from the event can be accessed here: https://goo.gl/photos/8ueimQdAAnuU2ugVA

13Feb/17

GRADnet Enterprising Ideas Competition 2017

Investing In Your Research, Your Skills and Your Future

Which SEPnet university team has the greatest entrepreneurial spirit?     

The 2017 GRADnet Enterprising Ideas Competition is now open!

Are you interested in developing your entrepreneurial skills?

Are you a SEPnet PGR or a physics undergraduate

Put forward a team for a chance to win £100 for each member!

What it is

SEPnet is organising its 2nd annual enterprising ideas competition to help you develop your entrepreneurship skills.

SEPnet PGRs and physics undergraduates in their penultimate year are invited to put forward teams to compete to be the most entrepreneurial in SEPnet.

Why you should be interested

Business and research increasingly need graduates who bring fresh ideas, innovative thinking and who have great team working skills. Physicists have the research skills and technical knowledge to inform policy, improve society and create exciting new products. 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.

Whatever career you pursue, whether in research or business, the skills you gain by participating in this competition will be of great value. By the end of the programme you will have:

  • gained a fresh perspective on how your skills and knowledge can be applied
  • understood more about entrepreneurship and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset
  • developed real insights into business, innovation, enterprise and team working
  • participate in multiple activities based on real life experiences and scenarios.

The programme is NOT about turning you into entrepreneurs or seeking new business opportunities but to expose you to the world of business and the impact of innovation on business.

You do not need to have a business idea or experience beforehand to take part!

How it works

If you are a PGR or an undergraduate you will need to confirm your interest in participating by 31 March 2017.  Places are limited on a first come, first served basis.

Forming teams:

  • these should be 3 – 6 people
  • may include PGR only, UG only or be a mixture of PGRs and UGs and may also be formed between SEPnet universities
  • if you do not have a team but would be interested in joining one, let us know and we will put you in touch with others

2-day training course:

  • designated member(s) of the team will attend two days of FREE residential training on 28 and 29 June which will contribute to professional development and build skills to help with the challenge. Training will include varied insights into entrepreneurship; what it really means and why it is important, team work and idea generation together with business, enterprise and communication skills.

Please note:

  • there is a maximum of twenty team spaces available, we are seeking ideally at least one team per institution; however, if an institution doesn’t put a team forward that space can be used by another partner
  • undergraduates on a summer placement should agree with their employer to take 2 days out to attend training

Video:

Teams will be required to produce and submit an initial short video by end of September outlining your idea.

Support:

Teams will be introduced to local entrepreneurial experts at your university to support development of your idea. Ongoing entrepreneurship materials giving hints and tips will also be provided.

Teams will receive feedback from a variety of experts and tips on how take your idea forward.

Key dates:

31 March 2017 Confirm your interest in taking part by e-mailing Cristobel Soares-Smith, gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk

26 May 2017 Confirm your team members

28 & 29 June 2017  Entrepreneurship residential training for designated team member(s)

September 2017 Submit short video outlining your idea

January 2018 Proposals with market research and business case to be submitted

February 2018 Presentations to a panel of entrepreneurs and business people

Further information:

02Feb/17

Shattering Stereotypes is looking for Physics graduates in the South East!

Who are we looking for?
As part of our Shattering Stereotypes project, we are looking for Physics graduates in the South East area who have had all sorts of careers since graduating. As part of the project we are hosting a careers evening at our five partner schools. To make these evenings successful, we need you!

If you’re now working in anything from finance to accountancy, or working in the energy sector to those in healthcare or government, SEPnet needs your help! We are looking for Physics graduates from diverse backgrounds, across all ethnicities, genders and sexuality.

What would you need to do?
Sign up to help at one or more of our careers evenings. They are located around London, with one school in Guildford. The entire evening, which will include training from one of our SEPnet Outreach Officers, will only last around two hours. We are hoping to run the evenings as one-on-one sessions between you, the students and their parents / carers. This way they can ask you individual questions about the type of work you do and the type of scientist you are.

What are different types of Scientist?
As part of the project, we are introducing the term scientist to include all those who studied science at university. This includes you. In particular we are introducing students to the 12 Types of Scientists. These were introduced in a previous project from SEPnet and WISE called People Like Me. We are looking to match with students who have similar types to you.

When are the careers evenings taking place?

Monday 6 March, Overton Grange, Sutton.

Thursday 9 March, St Peter’s School, Guildford.

Monday 20 March, Lampton Academy, Hounslow.

Thursday 30 March, Preston Manor, Brent.

Thursday 9 May, Charles Darwin School, Biggin Hill.

What if I can’t make any of the sessions?
We are more than happy to let you know about future Shattering Stereotypes events where you can help.

We would also like to feature some Case Studies on our websites and posters, so even if you can’t make it, you can still help us out!

Will this make a difference?
Shattering Stereotypes is a pilot project that is being externally evaluated including measuring what messages students are getting from the project. We would be more than happy to share our final report with you towards the end of 2017. Be a part of this innovative project and help us find out what messages work.

What next?
Sign up here and forward this page to any of your Physics graduates friends who may also be interested.

More details about Shattering Stereotypes can be found here.
Any additional questions, please e-mail outreach@sepnet.ac.uk.

17Jan/17

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] npl.co.uk 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] npl.co.uk 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.)