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.

27Mar/18

Student-led conference 21-23 March 2018 – A great success!

The student-led conferences took place 21-23 March at the University of Southampton with over 60 delegates taking part in two parallel conferences:

  • Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology led by Simon King at the University of Southampton
  • From Micrometres to Megaparsecs” organised by Justyn Campbell-White from the University of Kent.

Simon King shares his views on why he wanted to organise a conference for postgraduate research students and the skills he acquired during the process:

“When I was presented with the opportunity to organise my own conference in high energy physics, I was very keen to pursue it! I was not exactly sure what would be required, but I thought it would be a great occasion to participate in the other side of conferences than just attending (many of) them!

In practise, the vast majority of the work was undertaken by the fantastic Cristobel Soares-Smith, GRADnet Administrator, who was in charge of all of the practical aspects which allowed me to focus on the scientific programme.

Me (and my co-organiser on the astronomy department) Justyn Campbell-White were the lead organisers of our respective conferences, but not without help from many other students! I would like to personally thank Sonali Mohapatra, Jack Setford and Alex Titterton for their help in finding scientific speakers and shaping the conference to what it was. There were many unexpected challenges, including dealing with last-minute changes to the programme, and trying to satisfy all participants from a wide variety of fields; but I think this was a success. Many thanks to the invited speakers who did an excellent job of providing a general introduction to their respective topics, and to the students who did a wonderful job explaining their current research.

The whole conference went very smoothly, and it was a fantastic opportunity to practise skills required for a career in academia beyond publishing papers. I am very thankful to GRADnet, and Cristobel for allowing me this opportunity and I would highly recommend it to any PhD student!”

The student led conference Advances in High Energy Physics and Cosmology was exciting and varied. The balance of student talks to invited speakers was ideal as both a networking opportunity and as an inviting atmosphere in which to present PhD research. I was unfortunately unable to give a talk myself, however I’ve been inspired by the organisers dedication to providing an excellent experience and would very much like to organise such a conference myself! Also Cristobel is amazing.” (Azaria Coupe, third year PhD student at the University of Southampton)

See “From Micrometres to Megaparsecs” conference Twitter feed here.

Attendees from both conferences take a break:

 

08Mar/18

SEPnet celebrates Women’s International Day!

SEPnet continues to celebrate the achievements of female physicists and encourage young women to pursue careers with physics through its outreach and employability programmes.

While only 20% of physics students are female, 30% of students attending SEPnet and GRADnet events are female and 40% of summer placements are secured by female physics students. Role models and case studies are important sources of inspiration and you can read about some of our successful alumni and placement students on our website.

All SEPnet partners are signed up to Project Juno and Athena SWAN to support gender equality and women’s career progression with 3 partners achieving Champion status to date. SEPnet partners share good practice through SEPnet’s diversity workshops and E&D Champions LinkedIn group. SEPnet and IOP’s successful joint careers panel for female physicists has led to the creation of the SEPnet Careers Forum for Female Physicists, a supportive group, where students and female physicists in business and academia can share issues related to women’s progression in the workplace.

Through its Outreach & Public Engagement programme, SEPnet continues to explore innovative projects that tackle Gender Stereotyping in Schools. The results of our pilot project, Shattering Stereotypes, are available on our website, including twelve recommendations for other physics departments who are looking to run similar projects. SEPnet will be using this learning to run the project in the 2018 / 19 academic year. If your school is interested please do get in touch with the outreach and public engagement team.

02Mar/18

SEPnet Summer Placements 2018 now open for applications!

Over 80 SEPnet summer placements are being advertised to eligible SEPnet students from the beginning of March. The projects offered are varied, challenging and exciting and are already attracting lots of interest from students.

2nd and 3rd (non-final) year physics student at SEPnet partner universities are eligible to apply. Some placements are also open to SEPnet PhD students.

Students should contact their SEPnet Employer Engagement Officer or email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk to find out more. Click here for more information.

20Feb/18

RHUL team win “Enterprising Ideas” competition 2018!

Over the past months seven SEPnet teams have been taking part in the Enterprising Ideas Competition designed to develop entrepreneurship skills.  PGRs and physics undergraduates were invited in January 2017 to put forward teams to compete to be the most entrepreneurial in SEPnet.

Three teams, Kent, RHUL and Southampton made it to the final on the 15 February 2018 at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor. The winning team was announced at a “Physics Means Business” networking event at the GRADnet Winter School.

Congratulations to the RHUL team who won £100 each!

L-R: Phil Edwards, Weald Technology, Simon Bland, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Bob Pickles, Canon (UK) Ltd, Rupert Mellor, Alex Waterworth,  Albert Baker, Stephanie Bennett, Nathan Eng, Thomas Vaughan and Elaine Hickmott, Elaine Hickmott Enterprises.

Business and research increasingly need graduates who bring fresh ideas, innovative thinking and who have great team-working skills. 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.

This GRADnet training has given participants an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on how skills and knowledge can be applied; to understand more about entrepreneurship and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mind-set and develop real insights into business, innovation and team working.

Thank you to Elaine Hickmott, Development Director, EH Enterprises, Learning and development for scientists and engineers, who ran the 2-day entrepreneurship training for UGs and PGRs in June 2017 and the competition, and Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator, for coordinating and organising both events.

See here for Elaine Hickmott’s Blog.

19Feb/18

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.

19Feb/18

Team from Royal Holloway wins SEPnet Enterprising Ideas Competition

In early 2017 SEPnet invited students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, from the network to submit teams for the SEPnet Enterprising Ideas competition. We were  looking for teams who bring fresh ideas, innovative thinking and who have great team working skills that businesses increasingly need.

The idea of the programme was to engender new skills in the students: a fresh perspective on how their skills and knowledge can be applied; understanding more about entrepreneurship and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset; and to develop real insights into business, innovation, enterprise and team workings.

The programme would last throughout 2017 with teams undertaking training in June led by Elaine Hickmott of EH-Enterprises who tailored the programme specifically for Physics students in SEPnet. They were then asked to submit their ideas via a short video by September. This was followed by submitting detailed market research and their business case, leading up to a “Dragon’s Den” format presentation to a panel of Business people at the GRADnet Winter School in February.

Unfortunately along the way, some teams dropped out due to research and studying commitments. However they gained valuable experience from the intensive training provided.

Three teams made it through the grueling process and reached the finals:

  • VR-Teach – a Physics VR Simulator from a team from the University of Kent
  • MQMobile – monitoring lab equipment, from the University of Southampton
  • “Conker” monitoring for concussion in sporting and other accidents, from Royal Holloway
The team from Kent The team from RHUL The team from Southampton

The panel of judges (Bob Pickles of Canon UK, Simon Bland of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Phil Edwards of Weald Technology) was extremely impressed with all three finalists and by the quality, credibility and potential of the ideas being showcased. It was a tough call. However, they chose “Conker” from RHUL as the winning entry.

The winners collect their certificates The runners up collect theirs.

Congratulations to all the teams for not just demonstrating great technical ideas, but also how to ensure they solved real problems and what was needed for commercial success. Congratulations to the team from RHUL for winning.

 

19Feb/18

GRADnet Winter School 2018 a Great Success

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 26 postgraduate students from eight of the SEPnet members, 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. Veronica Benson and Kay Pearson from SEPnet’s Employer Engagement team observed the PGRs and provided feedback to them.

Alys Brett, from UKAEA, JT Jansenn from National Physical Laboratory, John Wells from Leonardo and Helen White from AWE took part in a panel discussion and  gave their perspectives on leadership styles from an employer’s point of view.

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 in the pouring rain.

16Feb/18

SEPnet launches Shattering Stereotypes Evaluation Report

During the 2016/17 academic year, SEPnet Outreach & Public Engagement has been piloting a project determining the best role Physics Outreach Officers can play in tackling and improving the gender stereotyping problem in schools.

This was the first SEPnet-wide project which involved building a direct partnership with a set of schools to deliver a programme of activity over an academic year. The pilot was a first step, so the priority for the evaluation was on logistics over impact of the project, though both were considered. The evaluation was carried out by Elizabeth Jeavans and Sarah Jenkins. The full report can be found here.

Overall the project delivered a programme which led to positive experiences across all stakeholders:

  • Year 8 Studentsfollowing their involvement in Shattering Stereotypes, they now view future opportunities as not being constrained by stereotypical perceptions of gender.
  • Year 12 Studentsdeveloped transferable leadership and communication skills through their participation in the communications challenge.
  • Teachersvalued external visits and having resources from universities.
  • Schools – In some schools, the pilot project raised awareness of gender stereotyping across their entire schools
  • Outreach Officers welcomed the opportunity provided by the project to work as part of a team and to be involved in building up a relationship with schools, as opposed to one-off activities.

This gives the project a fantastic base to evolve and grow from in future years. However the project did highlight some areas where further development is needed. Most of these were themed around the following areas:

  • Message. Throughout the project there was some confusion about whether primary purpose of Shattering Stereotypes was to address/ reduce gender stereotyping or to equalise the gender balance in physics through greater understanding of physics career opportunities.

    This was the tension the project team struggled with from the development of the project. The idea was to address / reduce gender stereotyping, but the strength of SEPnet’s experiences in School’s Outreach shifted this towards equalising the gender balance in physics, especially in the earlier workshops.
  • Logistics and Partnership. Throughout the project there were some logistical challengers in booking the Shattering Stereotypes activities. There was also a lack of connectivity across the activities and support between said activities.

    This was due to its nature as a pilot project. It was the first time SEPnet has both worked in the realm of Gender Stereotyping and in the format of delivering activity throughout the year. This together with the large workloads and busy environments in schools led to some workshops being missed at some schools and a lot of last minute work being carried out by Officers and Teachers.

A summary of experiences and outcomes, along with opportunities from development can be found here.

The report also issued a list of twelve recommendations, all of which we taking into account as we develop the project for the 2018/19 Academic Year.

The project team would like to give a massive thanks to all the teachers who partnered with us on the pilot project. Their input and time has been invaluable and has a great impact in how we continue to develop and deliver this project, and many others across SEPnet Outreach.

The project team would also like to thank:

  • Elizabeth and Sarah for their contribution and insights throughout the process.
  • All the physics role models from activity two, who took time from their busy schedules to attend events.
  • The Year 12 students who took part, most of whom are currently in the process of applying for University. The team wishes them good luck in your future careers.
  • All the Year 8 students who participated in the pilot project. Their enthusiasm for the subject matter was apparent from day one of the project. They constantly surprised us, challenged us and pushed us to do better. The team hopes they all remain staunch champions and continue to challenge gender stereotyping wherever they see it.

The schools who participated in the pilot project where:

SEPnet will be running the project through the 2018/2019 academic year.

If your school is interested in joining the project as a partner, please e-mail the Director of Outreach & Public Engagement outreach@sepnet.ac.uk. At the moment SEPnet is looking for state-funded, mixed-gender schools for this project.

Further details on the project will be available in Mid-March 2018.