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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:


Topological states in solid-state devices as a resource for quantum computing workshop 4-5 May 2023

The Topological states in solid-state devices as a resource for quantum computing workshop is taking place on 4-5 May 2023 in Oak Suite 1 & 2, Stag Hill Campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey. This workshop is in collaboration with the University of Surrey and Imperial College London and funded by SEPnet.

Dr Malcom Connolly, Imperial College London and Dr Eran Ginossar, University of Surrey will be hosting a dinner for the invited speakers on 3 May in central London.  Malcom will be giving a tour of his laboratory the following morning and all the speakers will join the student delegates at lunchtime in Guildford.

The 2-day event will include the following talks and workshop dinner for both invited speakers and student delegates:

Thursday, 4 May:

  • Jaewoo Joo & Eran Ginossar: Ice breaker followed by Introductory talks
  • Steven Simon: Topologically Ordered Matter and Why You Should Be Interested
  • Andrew Higginbotham: Routes and challenges for engineering exotic superconductivity in hybrid structures
  • Kristof Moors: Modelling topological material-based hybrid devices for quantum applications
  • Craig Knox: Where’s the surface? Topological Insulator materials and devices
  • Erwann Bocquillon: Microwave transport in HgTe topological insulators

Friday, 5 May

  • Eytan Grosfeld: Signatures of Andreev and Majorana Excitations in Hybrid Superconducting Circuits
  • Guanzhong Wang: Minimal Kitaev chains using coupled quantum dots in nanowires
  • Delegates 2-minute presentations
  • Beatriz Perez: Engineering topological phases with classical and quantum light
  • Mathieu Delbecq: Zero energy states clustering in an elemental nanowire coupled to a superconductor
  • Malcolm Connolly and Eran Ginossar: Research themes at ICL and Surrey

Thank you to Dr Eran Ginossar, University of Surrey and Dr Malcolm Connolly, Imperial College London for organising such a comprehensive programme on behalf of GRADnet.


SEPnet Diversity Workshop – Embedding diversity into the curriculum

Academics, EDI champions and PGRs gathered at SEPnet’s recent annual diversity workshop hosted by Royal Holloway University of London, to share experiences and discuss challenges in embedding diversity into the curriculum. Tinashe Verhaeghe, Equality Charter at Advance HE, explained the five race equality principles that underpin the charter. Researcher Annie Lennox shared results of their study on diversity within Space Science naming conventions maintained by the IAU. Olivia Keenan and Perl John described what is meant by decolonising the curriculum and how we are approaching decolonising across SEPnet. 

Helen Gleeson OBE, Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Leeds, Institute of Physics advisor to Council for Inclusion and Diversity, provided a personal and professional perspective on encouraging diversity and facilitating inclusion in Physics, her role in providing advice and challenging Council and the IOP more widely on inclusion and diversity issues and details of the new Inclusion Model. Professor Laura Sjoberg, Head of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London provided an insight into Substantive, and Representational Diversity, the importance of offering alternative problem-solving techniques and attention to questions of epistemology that underlie traditional techniques, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity or social economic background.

To find out full details of the event click here.