Yearly Archives: 2023


SME-DTN Workshop: Shape an inclusive workplace culture through inclusive communication and allyship

The SME-DTN workshop: Shape an inclusive workplace culture through inclusive communication and allyship took place on Friday, 8 December 2023 at the Institute of Physics in London.  This workshop was designed for postgraduate researchers and their industry and academic supervisors as well as the wider SEPnet. 

The workshop, delivered by specialist inclusion training company, Altogether Different helped delegates build empathy with the challenges faced by people in historically marginalised communities – giving them the skills and confidence to support diversity and role model inclusion of all kinds with their team.

Navigating the world of workplace inclusion can be difficult. With ever evolving identity language, understanding unspoken barriers that people face at work and maintaining a culture of belonging, there’s a lot to think about.

Delegates were able to reflect on, and discuss, practical ways to be an ally and understand barriers that people in historically marginalised communities face in the workplace. Attendees learned that allyship comes in many forms, but ultimately, it’s when you’re not personally part of a particular marginalised community or communities but you take the challenges on as your own.

The workshop covered diversity areas such as Race & Ethnicity, Gender, LGBQTIA+, Neurodiversity, Age, Disability, World Religions – and how these facets of ourselves shape our experiences in the workplace.

Thank you to Charlotte Butler, Founder of Altogether Different our workshop leader.  Charlotte specialises in facilitating sometimes sensitive conversations about identity and workplace culture. Charlotte has worked across many different industries and organisations. Her friendly non-judgemental approach helped us to build a better understanding for workplace inclusion – leaving participants with practical tips and knowledge to put into practice right away.


GRADnet Induction Day welcomes new PhD Students!

The GRADnet Induction Day for first year PhD students took place on Wednesday, 18 October 2023 at One Park Crescent, London W1.

Professor Jacob Dunningham, SEPnet Executive Director welcomed over 50 postgraduate researchers from our six partner universities.  Attendees had the opportunity to attend two out of three parallel workshops as well as network over lunch at the one-day event.

Thank you to our workshops leads:

Tom Sharp and Laura Feetham-Walker, Institute of Physics:  Publication and peer review: how to make it as an author and a reviewer;

Nuala O’Flynn, SEPnet Outreach and Public Engagement Manager at University of Hertfordshire and Mily Riley, Bayfordbury Education Officer and Astronomy Events Coordinator at University of Hertfordshire, and Acting SEPnet Director of Outreach and Public Engagement:  Science communication skills;

Dr Thomas Stevenson, Research Fellow, Physics and Astronomy, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex and Caley Yardley, 2nd Year DISCnet PhD Student, University of Sussex:  Introduction to Machine Learning using ATLAS Open Data.

Attendees said the event was “very well organised”;  a “really useful day!” with a “good range of workshops”.

GRADnet looks forward to seeing this year’s cohort at future training events!


Public Engagement and Outreach Awards Night!

The SEPnet 2023 Public Engagement Awards ceremony took place on Monday 11th September at the Institute of Physics. The awards were a brilliant opportunity to recognise the amazing physicists delivering outstanding public engagement projects at our partner universities. The awards were presented in 7 categories, and different awards were open to individuals, projects, research groups and departments. A massive congratulations to all winners and those highly commended in categories.

Newcomer Award
Highly Commended – Physics Chat, University of Portsmouth

Winner – Dr Laurence Wroe, University of Oxford

Communication Award
Winner – Professor Claudia Maraston, University of Portsmouth

Innovation Project Award
Winner – Discovery Planet, University of Kent

Achievement Award

Highly Commended – Dr Thomas Hird, University of Oxford
Winner – Dr Stephen Wilkins, University of Sussex

Research Group Award
Highly Commended – Astronomy Unit, Queen Mary University of London

Highly Commended – Supernova Group, University of Southampton

Public Engagement Champion Award
Highly Commended – Dr Katherine Shirley, University of Oxford

Winner – Dr Tracey Berry, Royal Holloway University of London

Partnership Award
Winner – Big Data: ATLAS, University of Oxford

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!


SME-DTN Showcase Event at the RI a success!

The SME-DTN Showcase event was held on Wednesday, 20 September 2023 at the Royal Institution in Mayfair.  It was a great opportunity for our SME-DTN postgraduate researchers to present their research projects to such a varied audience and to network with SEPnet contacts. One of the guests summed up the evening saying it was “entertaining, educational and nourishment for the soul”! 

See below for the list of projects presented on the night:

Callum Barnes, University of Kent/Body Rocket:  Machine learning for optimisation of cycling performance using real-time aerodynamics.  The project aims to develop machine learning algorithms for real-time monitoring of aero dynamic drag, allowing cyclists to adjust their on-bike position dynamically for optimal performance.

Anthony Criscuolo, University of Surrey/Leo Cancer Care/National Physical Laboratory:  To develop a quantitative rationale for frequency & tolerance of QA programmes for current & state-of-the-art radiotherapy delivery technologies, requiring the development of innovative methodologies to quantify the effect of tolerance levels & to assess clinical impact & patient outcomes. 

Kevin Doty, University of Sussex/Advanced Materials Development:  Functional Nanomaterials Inks:  The development of scalable ink production processes for functional nanomaterials; Characterisation of printed films & functional nanomaterials and Integration of printed nanomaterials films within device structures. 

Stephanie King, University of Hertfordshire/3-Sci EngD:  The development of a portfolio of distributed condition management sensors for wind turbines and carbon storage infrastructure.

Pye Kwye, University of Surrey/Addionics:  Sustainable manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries by dry coating of solvent-free electrodes.  To develop dry coating methods, to enable solvent-free electrode processing, for sustainable manufacturing of LIBs, to drive the cost reduction of LIBs. The project will combine experimental and computational approaches to develop novel dry coating process, understand how the dry coating process affect the properties and performances of the electrodes, and optimize the dry coating parameters to achieve high performance LIBs. 

Alex McCann, University of Sussex/Advanced Materials Development/Rapiscan: Characterisation and crosslinking of graphene oxide towards explosive percolation in nanocomposites. Explosive percolation describes a phenomenon in composite materials where network conductivity coincides with additional chemical modification of the overall system. It has been demonstrated that templated composites of latex polymer and graphene oxide can form highly-conductive materials. Nanocomposite materials offer a way forward in many practical applications including flexible and wearable electronics, energy storage and harvesting, and strain sensing technologies. Understanding the mechanisms enabling this phenomenon may lead to further application in composites of metals, ceramics and thermosetting polymers.

Thank you to all participating companies and SEPnet partners in this scheme and to RED Fund for supporting this initiative.

L-R Alex McCann, Kevin Doty, Cristobel Soares,SME-DTN Project Manager, Stephanie King, Anthony Criscuolo and Callum Barnes.

Stephanie setting up her demonstration kit!


Extragalactic Astronomy Workshop 4-5 September 2023

Thank you to Dr Stephen Wilkins, Dr Will Roper and Dr Eva Mueller from the University of Sussex for delivering an excellent workshop:  Extragalactic Astronomy 4-5 September 2023 at Herstmonceux Castle.

The programme included:

  • Lightning Talks from Participants: All participants had the opportunity to give lightning (1 minute) talks on their own interests and research with a single slide.
  • An Introduction to Galaxy Formation and Evolution Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex)
  • Modelling the spectral energy distributions of galaxies: Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex), Will Roper (University of Sussex)
  • Modelling the spectral energy distributions of galaxies: Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex), Will Roper (University of Sussex)
  • An introduction to galaxy formation simulations with SWIFT: Will Roper (University of Sussex)
  • The Future of Cosmology Missions: Eva Mueller (University of Sussex)
  • An introduction to galaxy formation simulations with SWIFT: Will Roper (University of Sussex)

Delegates were given a private tour of the Observatory Science Centre and time to explore the  beautiful grounds.  An added bonus was seeing the Milky Way! (Night sky photo courtesy of Louise Seeyav, University of Sussex)


Thank you to Jo Harris and her team at the Observatory Science Centre for the private tour of the centre for our SEPnet PGRs.


QMUL PGR comes back for more at GRADnet Summer School!

Kymani Armstrong Williams, postgraduate researcher at Queen Mary University of London enjoyed last year’s GRADnet/NPL Summer School so much he came back again this year when the event was held 10-11 July 2023 at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington.

Here he is proudly standing by to launch his water rocket in the grounds of Bushy House at NPL.

L-R His fellow team mates: Dr Sudha Ahuja, Royal Holloway University of London; Dr Tamsin Nooney, BBC R&D; Alexia Beale, postgraduate researcher at University of Surrey and Kymani. Delighted to see a familiar face!

I think Kymani used his expert knowledge from last year to get closest to the target!


Kymani said after the event: The SEPnet Summer School empowers and informs students to take the first tentative steps in finding careers beyond the end of their PhD.  It develops students’ networking skills; in particular, it builds on their confidence in being able to approach and have meaningful conversations with professionals.  The program also broadens the students’ view of job prospects by curating a large selection of former SEPnet physics graduates to give talks on their experiences outside academia. I have enjoyed and benefitted from the program so much, that I have attended two years in a row! 

The group receiving instructions on how to construct the water rockets to achieve the best aerodynamics! 



GRADnet/NPL Summer School 10-11 July 2023

The GRADnet/NPL Summer School took place on 10-11 July 2023 at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex.  This was a great opportunity for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers to participate in interactive workshops and to network with each other and employers. 

Thank you to all our contributors for providing an amazing programme over the 2-day event:

NPL Welcome:  Richard Brown, Head of Metrology, National Physical Laboratory; Networking Skills and Translating your Research/PhD skills to Industry sessions:  Jennifer Rao-Williams, Skillfluence Ltd and Foresighting Workshop:  Dr James Claverly, NPL Head of Gov Relations National Physical Laboratory.

Careers Panellists:  Steve Chick, Analyst Team Lead, UK Civil Service (Ex Surrey); Katie Ley, Customer Relations Manager, Sopra Steria (Ex Surrey); Sonali Mohapatra, Quantum Innovation Sector Lead, National Quantum Computing Centre (Ex Sussex); Tamsin Nooney, R&D engineer, BBC R&D (Ex QMUL); Mitchell Peaks, AMO Physicist, Quantum Engineer, Riverlane (Ex Sussex); Laurence Stant, Senior Beam Diagnostics Engineer, Diamond Light Source (Ex Surrey) and Alexander Waterworth, Project Engineer, Cryogenic Limited (Ex RHUL)

Water Rockets and Laboratory Tours:  Andrew Hansen MBE, Outreach Manager; Rahim Bhatti, Talent Specialist and Luciana De Luca, National Physical Laboratory. 

Employer-led Workshops:  Knowledge Graphs, Language Models, and the Semantic Web: Dr Adam Bozson, Head of Data Science (Ex RHUL) and Alexandra Shatova, Machine Learning Scientist at Dyad AI; Measuring Metrology:  Dr Emma Bendall, Research Scientist; Dr Ben Russell, Principal Research Scientist and Science Area Leader for the Nuclear Metrology Group and Alexandre Tribolet, Higher Research Scientist in Radiochemistry, National Physical Laboratory and Intellectual Property Rights:  Dr Julian Potter and Ian Wilson, WP Thompson. 

“Thank you for organising the SEPnet event at NPL. I really enjoyed it! The SEPnet events are a fantastic opportunity to meet other PhD students and learn new skills.”  

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the GRADnet/National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Summer School 2023: Opportunities beyond your PhD, organised by SEPnet. This remarkable summer school not only broadened my understanding of the diverse pathways available after completing a STEM PhD, particularly in industry, but also equipped me with invaluable skills essential for success as a PhD student in the professional realm.”  See full LinkedIn post here.



SEPnet/ WRIPA Joint workshop

Creating an inclusive physics curriculum – Thursday 6 July 2023 University of Nottingham

SEPnet and WRIPA hosted a successful meeting to explore how university physics departments can embed EDI across the curriculum and departmental culture to support an inclusive student learning experience and equitable graduate outcomes. Prof Helen Gleeson OBE, opened the workshop outlining personal professional initiatives and the IOP’s projects. Professor Philip Moriarty closed the workshop with a dynamic thought proving update on the benefits and challenges of ChatGPT. The event was attended by over 55 representatives from over 30 UK institutions. 

For more information about the talks follow this link


Recordings to the talks can be found below


Chair’s Introduction with Prof Sir William Wakeham and a 2022 event update with Prof Jacob Dunningham

Part 2

Encouraging diversity and facilitating inclusion in physics – a personal and professional perspective, Prof Helen Gleeson OBE, Cavendish Professor of Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds

How to aim towards an inclusive curriculum, Piers Wilkinson, Policy and Campaigns Lead, Inclusive Education Team, Diversity and Ability

Part 3

SEPNet neurodiverse summer placement programme – lessons learnt and impact, Claire Hepwood, Director of Employer Liaison South East Physics Network

How scared should we be about ChatGPT, Prof Philip Moriarty, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham


The Future of Quantum Computing Lecture on 12 July 2023

Public Lecture: The future of quantum computing, by Oliver Dial, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Quantum

Who:  All welcome!

What: Public Lecture: The future of quantum computing, by Oliver Dial, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Quantum

When: 7:00pm 12 July, 2023

Where: Clore Lecture Theatre, Huxley Building, Imperial College, London

Oliver Dial, CTO of IBM Quantum will speak about the challenges, the science and the technological potential of quantum computing. He is the Chief Quantum Hardware Architect Technology Officer at IBM Quantum in New York, an IBM Fellow well known for his work in on large superconducting quantum processors, leading the development of IBM’s first 20- qubit quantum processor.

All welcome: the talk is free but you need a ticket. Register here by 7 July.

Click to access Oliver_dial_flyerQR.pdf


Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2023: “Quantum Materials: Information and Technology” 10-14 July

Registration now open for Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2023: “Quantum Materials: Information and Technology

Who: This conference is open to all PhD researchers and early career postdocs

What: Condensed Matter Physics in the City 2023: “Quantum Materials: Information and Technology

When: 10-14 July 2023Hybrid mode, with talks delivered in-person at our London venue (Roberts Building, Room 508, UCL) and online on Zoom.

Where: University College London,  WC1E 6BT, Roberts Building, Room 508

We acknowledge gratefully funding from ICAM and Institute of Physics.  We proudly announce a great line-up of confirmed Speakers: 

  • Sasha Balatsky (Nordita/U Connecticut)
  • Erez Berg (Weizmann)
  • Tony Carrington (Bristol)
  • Amalia Coldea (Oxford)
  • Oliver Dial (IBM Yorktown)
  • Shuqiu Wang (Oxford)
  • Pablo Jarrillo-Herrero  (MIT)
  • Vidya Madhavan (UIUC)
  • Jegeun Park (Seoul National University)
  • Aline Ramires (PSI)
  • Joaquín Fernández Rossier (INL, Portugal)
  • Frank Schindler (Imperial College and Princeton)
  • Steve Simon (Oxford)
  • Ashvin Vishwanath (Harvard)

A provisional schedule for the meeting is now available here. In addition to the scientific program, there will be a public evening lecture on 12 July (speaker: Oliver Dial; venue Clore Lecture Theatre, Huxley Building, Imperial College London). More details later.

Register here:

Please note that there is a registration fee of £10 to complete the registration (see above website for more info). Junior Scientists (PhD students and early career postdocs – within 5 years of getting the PhD) may request financial support, with preference for participants from ICAM nodes. Deadline for funding applications (part of registration process) will be on 9 June 2023. More details are on the registration webpage linked above.

We will consider contributed submissions from Junior Scientists made by 19 June 2023 for contributed talks. Please have an abstract and a short one-slide presentation to hand should you wish to apply for one. Please look for more details on the registration webpage linked above.

You can find further information on confirmed speakers and other useful information on our conference website: