25Apr/17

New On-line Learning Modules produced by GRADnet PGRs

Two new on-line learning modules have been created by GRADnet PGR students: Shaun Geaney of RHUL and Justyn Campbell-White of the University of Kent. This brings the total number of modules now available to fourteen. These were all created by GRADnet PGRs in response to the phrase “I wish I’d known that when I started my PhD”. The new modules are:

Designed to help new PhD students embarking on their research, the presentation style of the courses is very varied. Clean code is about creating organised, readable and terse programming code and  is delivered as an online presentation. The Virtual Observatory Tools is a video which will show you how to use the Virtual Observatory (VO) tools: Aladin, Simbad, Vizier, and Topcat.

The creators of these and the other modules received prizes. If any PGRs across SEPnet have any ideas for additional training modules, please contact gradnetadmin@sepnet.ac.uk

Note: you will need to sign on to the GRADnet VRE to access these modules. If you are having problems logging on you can find help here.

24Apr/17

GRADnet conference at Southampton organised by NPL PhD students

At the end of March, SEPnet/National Physical Laboratory PhD students, Alex Browning (Surrey) and Héctor Corte-León (Royal Holloway), organised a conference at Southampton University with the help of the SEPnet Graduate Network (GRADnet). The conference on Functional Scanning Probe Microscopy Techniques brought together PhD students from the nine SEPnet universities to promote interaction with senior researchers in the field of scanning probe microscopy.

With almost a year of planning, this conference represents one of a series which focusses on giving students (Alex and Héctor in this case) an opportunity to develop their professional skills by contacting speakers, advertising the conference and coordinating the timetable for the different talks and poster sessions.

The main areas covered at this year’s conference included biotechnology applications (e.g. study of cell’s membrane stiffness); in-situ magnetic force microscopy (application of magnetic fields during the imaging process) and functionalized probes and the interaction with the sample’s surface (e.g. by attaching proteins to the apex of the probe).

Delegates gave positive feedback about the conference and welcomed the opportunity to present talks to their peers and senior researchers and to network with other institutions.

04Apr/17

A Broadband Look into Astrophysical Processes

On the 30th-31st March 2017 the University of Southampton hosted two student-led conferences funded by SEPnet – the South East Physics Network. The astronomy-themed conference led by Peter Boorman, Christopher Frohmaier and Bella Boulderstone, all PhD students at Southampton, was entitled ‘A Broadband Look into Astrophysical Process’.

The primary aim was to expose all attendees to as many different areas in modern astrophysical research as possible. It has now become commonplace for new PhD students to start work in a particular area or wavelength of astronomy without the wider context of how their research will fit into the complete picture. For this reason, the Scientific Organising Committee wanted to give all attendees an idea of modern day research in all areas of astronomy – not just their own.

The 43 registered attendees included PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and invited speakers from almost 15 different institutions throughout the UK. The conference programme included 7 invited review talks on major areas in astronomy, including: radio; infrared; optical; ultraviolet; X-ray; gamma ray and cosmology/big data. There were additionally 14 student-contributed oral presentations and 13 poster presentations, all on a multitude of astrophysical research topics. All poster presenters were also given the chance to present the key findings of their work in a 1-minute ‘flash presentation’, in which they were given a minute to present a single slide to the audience.

Copies of presentations are included on the conference website: https://sites.google.com/site/broadbandlook/home

Student delegates and speakers attending the conference

29Mar/17
GRADnet

GRADnet Summer School, 3-6 July, National Physical Laboratory

The GRADnet Summer School is to take place from the 3rd to 6th July 2017 at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington.

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

27Mar/17

GRADnews Issue 6 – Spring 2017 Available

The Spring 2017 issue of GRADnews has been sent off for printing. It will be distributed to all PGRs and staff across the SEPnet members over the next two weeks. Watch out for it in your mailslots or in your PGR student common rooms/areas. If there’s one in your mailslot, then it’s for you!

This issue concentrates on the important area of Impact. More and more Research is evaluated on the broader Impact it has on society, the economy, and people. Six Impact studies have been funded by SEPnet and they are reported on in this issue. In addition we report on DISCnet, a new initiative in Data Intensive Science, the recent Winter School held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, and a reminder on the Enterprising Ideas Competition.

As always, please ensure you have a functioning VRE account so you can fully participate in the programme. If you need help, please look here: http://www.sepnet.ac.uk/sepnet-graduate-network/gradnets-virtual-research-environment/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-gradnet-vre/ 

You can download a copy of the newsletter here: GRADnews Issue 6 Final

22Mar/17

Hightlighting Excellence in Nuclear Skills

The Nuclear Industry held its ninth annual UK Nuclear Skills Awards on the 16th March.  During the evening the nuclear stars of the present and future were announced including a former SEPnet postgraduate researcher, Dr Michael Hodgson.

The new award for Postgraduate Student of the Year, sponsored by NSSG, was awarded to Michael Hodgson from Centronic. Michael completed a PhD in Detector Physics at the University of Surrey and currently works as a Design & Development Engineer.

The awards, organised by The National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) and Cogent Skills, was hosted by the lead singer of Iron Maiden, pilot and entrepreneur Bruce Dickinson. The event brought the nuclear industry together to celebrate the success and high achievement of learners nominated for awards in Apprentice, Foundation Degree/HND and Graduate disciplines.

The Main Sponsor on the evening was NuGen. NuGen is a UK nuclear joint venture between Toshiba and ENGIE.  NuGen’s Moorside project aims to develop a new generation nuclear power station on land in West Cumbria enough to power 6 million homes and equivalent to 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity requirements.

Above (L-R) John Male – NSSG, Michael Hodgson, Dr McKeag – Centronic and Bruce Dickinson

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.