Category Archives: Uncategorized


SEPnet celebrates its 10th Annual Students’ Expo on Wednesday 28 November!

The annual Students’ Expo is a prestigious occasion where students showcase their achievements during their summer placements through presentations and posters to over 150 employers, academic tutors and peers. This year 74 students were successful in finding industry and research placements with organisations including BAE Systems, National Physical Laboratory, Oxford Space Systems, Royal Marsden, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Thales and large number of SMEs developing products in new fields and technologies.

The Expo also offers a great opportunity for employers, academics and students to meet each other to discuss project ideas and career opportunities.  Exhibitors this year include 4Most, Ingenie, Institute of Physics and Oxford Space Systems.

We are delighted that this year’s keynote address will be delivered by Dame Julia Slingo, British meteorologist and former Chief Scientist at the Met Office.

For more information about SEPnet summer placements 2019 email



Physicists Like Me – Celebrating Careers and Diversity in Physics!

A recent joint IOP SEPnet event gave students an opportunity to explore their career options and network with physics alumni from diverse backgrounds. Speakers from academia, the oil & gas industry, teaching and technical start-ups, talked openly about their varied experiences of building a successful career and provided tips and ideas to support students with their future plans.

As one Surrey student described it, ‘the event turned out to be very interesting session with opportunities to talk to academics turned entrepreneurs with exciting new ventures and explore career paths, learning from their experiences and mistakes.‘   As our undergraduate puts it, ‘from quantum computing to the next big social network, you never know what you might discover!


GRADnet Winter School 18-20 February 2019: Register Now!

Who: All SEPnet postgraduate researchers who want to develop their leadership and team-building skills

What: This 3-day residential school will focus on the skills required for effective leadership and team-working. Different leadership styles will be presented and discussed. Each student attendee will be given the opportunity to have their preferred team-working style evaluated using the Belbin model.

When: 18-20 February 2019

Where: Cumberland Lodge, The Great Park, Windsor, Berkshire.

Numbers: Circa 25-30 delegates

Core activity:  Columbia’s Final Mission

This 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. Over the course of the mission, managers and engineers at NASA analysed the damage, assessed the risks, and decided what to do. Members of the NASA team had different perspectives, opinions and views about the damage, its effects and therefore the actions that would need to be taken. Leadership, organisational culture, communication, personality characteristics, formal systems and job positions are amongst many complex issues that affected the course of the decision-making process. In the event, at the end of the mission, the shuttle disintegrated as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, killing the seven astronauts.

Participants will analyse the case using materials supplied by NASA under the guidance of a consultant. As the mission unfolds, they will work in teams, each team taking the role of one of the key NASA managers or engineers. A team experiences only those events and has access only to information that that person had at the time of the mission. This adds a rich dimension to the case experience as participants recognise how perceptions of the same event can vary. With a combination of team working and plenary discussion, key principles and applications of leadership, management.

What students said about this year’s Winter School:

  • No prior knowledge required. Very useful; I hadn’t considered that organisational leadership would be completely different (it required skills and considerations) to small group leadership.  This course opened my eyes to new useful and practical concepts which I didn’t know existed.
  •  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. 
  • The programme was typically very well run and extremely engaging.

Register here. Registration deadline, Monday, 21 January 2019.

This event is free (SEPnet pays for your accommodation and course fees) for SEPnet postgraduate researchers and travel expenses incurred can be claimed from your Physics Department. 


PhDs welcome opportunity to meet employers who hire physicists!

Over 50 postgraduate researchers, academics and employers attended the IOP/SEPnet Careers Panel event at Hallam Conference Centre in central London.

Dr Elaine Hickmott, EH Enterprises, ran a short workshop called “Connections and Conversations for Career Success – A practical networking masterclass” which students found very “useful”.

Attendees said the event was “a great networking event” and that they “enjoyed it alot”. Several SEPnet students said they planned on attending future GRADnet events to meet more employers.

“I really enjoyed the event, it opened my eyes to some specific career paths that could be available to me at the end of my postgraduate degree. There was a great mix of different sectors that are looking for people with the skillset provided by a physics PhD.” (Surrey PGR)

Employers “found it very interesting and really enjoyed talking with the students”. Thank you to our employer panel members who participated:

Martin Arnold, Part Qualified Patent Attorney, WP Thompson (Intellectual Property), Tracey Berry, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Royal Holloway University of London, Alex Cote, Data Scientist, Rank Group, Claire Elliott, Senior Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, Russell Richardson, Director, RBA Acoustics Ltd, Jason Rolles, founder and Managing director, BlueOptima and RedOptima, Rosh Sellahewa, Manager, Deloitte and Sheela Sharma, Director, Stifel, Stock Investment Company.

Thank you to Elaine for chairing the event and Vishanti Fox, Careers & CPD Manager at the IOP for co-hosting this event with SEPnet.





A Joint IOP & SEPnet Career Panel Session for Students from All Backgrounds: Physicists Like Me – Celebrating Diversity in Physics!

Wednesday 14 November, 16.00 – 20.30, London W1

This event has been specifically designed for undergraduates and postgraduates who would like to explore their career options and network with physics alumni from diverse backgrounds. Speakers will talk openly about their varied experiences of building a successful career and provide tips and ideas to support you with your future plans.

Register here . This event is free for members of the IOP. Non-members pay £15. SEPnet students will be reimbursed on proof of payment and proof of attendance and may be able to claim some travel expenses.

Contact for more information.


GRADnet Induction Day: A great success!

Over 120 first year postgraduate researchers attended the GRADnet Induction day on 24 October 2018 in central London. This was a great opportunity for students to meet fellow SEPnet postgraduate researchers from around the region.

Students chose two out of 4 workshops to attend and the feedback was mainly very positive.

Getting your research published presented by Sarah Whitehouse and Tom Sharp: Institute of Physics: “Good session, very informative, with good pacing and tips!”

Python presented by Dr Tim Kinnear and Leon Schoonderwoerd, University of Kent: “Really well presented! Clear to understand and follow for someone who has no knowledge of coding before”

Introduction to research data management presented by Dr Alice Motes, University of Surrey and Dr Juan Bicarregui, Science Technology Facilities Council: Very eye-opening, reminds you of aspects of data-based research that can easily be overlooked. Very interesting to see the solutions and ideas involved in open science.”

Science Communication Skills presented by Dr Martin Archer, QMUL and Cordelia Scott, University of Portsmouth: “Good at introducing ways to get involved in public engagement tips on giving talks. Lots of interaction to give first taste of communication planning and set up.” 

Thank you to all our presenters and to Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator for organising this event.

Students at the GRADnet welcome talk.


Moving forward for 2nd Years 2018 Training Day: Good opportunity to meet up with fellow PGRs!

About 60 SEPnet PGRs attended this training event held on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 to support PGRs in their second year.

Students chose two out of four workshops and student feedback was very positive:

How to write a fellowship application (Workshop lead: Prof Peter McDonald, Surrey): Good workshop, explained the process clearly and ideas for presenting research ideas.

Practical Innovation (Workshop lead: Julia Shalet, Product Doctor):  I would highly recommend the workshop as it gives you a good and realistic view on what to consider when starting a business.

Research Data Management (Workshop lead: Dr Juan Biccaregui, STFC/Dr Alice Motes, Surrey):  Good!  Ideas heard before, but made me think about it and motivated me to improve.

Writing better software for research (Workshop Lead: Claire Hepwood, RHUL): This was extremely useful.  I initially thought it might be basic for me but it taught me lots of practices I never knew about before. 

Thank you to our presenters and to Cristobel Soares-Smith, Graduate Network Administrator, for organising this event.

Professor Sean Ryan, Executive Director, SEPnet, welcomes delegates.




IOP/SEPnet Careers Panel Event for PGRs and Postdocs, Wednesday 31 October 2018 16.00 – 20.30, London W1

The Institute of Physics and SEPnet are organising a joint career networking event for postgraduate researchers. This event will give an insight into the broad range of career paths open to PhD graduates and physics graduates.

This event aims to help, inspire and motivate you to explore the careers options open to you in a welcoming and friendly environment. You will hear from a range of panellists, including PhD graduates in physics-related fields who have gone on to pursue interesting, successful careers in diverse areas – both in and outside academia.

Panellists include: Martin Arnold, Trainee Patent Attorney, WP Thompson (Intellectual Property); Tracey Berry, Senior Lecturer in Physics, Royal Holloway University of London; Alex Cote, Data Scientist, Rank Group; Elaine Hickmott, Talent Development Specialist, EH Enterprises; Caterina Minelli, Senior Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory; Russell Richardson, Director, RBA Acoustics Ltd; Jason Rolles, founder and Managing director, BlueOptima; Rosh Sellahewa, Manager, Deloitte; Helen White, Senior Technical Lead, HMG Contractor.

What past attendees said about the last career networking event:
‘Fascinating evening: passionate physicists, open and willing to share, great breadth of experience! I got ideas about what I can do with my physics degree in different sectors.’
‘The variety of panellists was great. Seeing how their PhDs did/did not lead to their career was illuminating.’
‘Good, interesting and useful advice.’

Register here. This event is free for members of the IOP.  Non-members pay £15. SEPnet students will be reimbursed on proof of payment and proof of attendance and may be able to claim some travel expenses.


The interface between Observation and Theory in Astrophysics: 17-18 January 2019

Registration now open!

Who: SEPnet postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in astronomy, astrophysics and closely allied fields.

What: A 2-day school led by senior researchers in SEPnet comprising lectures and workshops.

When: 17-18 January 2019

Where: University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield (Accommodation is at the Travelodge Hatfield Central, twin rooms, double occupancy.)

Numbers: circa 30 delegates

The Advanced Physics School on the interface between observation and theory in astrophysics will address how to interpret astronomical observations in the new data-rich era. The sessions will cover theory and modelling relating to a number of current research areas in stellar, Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, including using simulations and applying statistical tools to link theory and observational data. In particular, the School will address the rapidly developing area of machine learning and its application at the interface between observation and theory in astrophysics.

The School will work its way up through spatial scales from planetary (in the context of exoplanet modelling), black hole, galactic (star formation), extragalactic (with a particular focus on stellar population synthesis models and also AGN), and on to galaxy formation models in cosmological contexts (and the role of cosmological simulations).

With experts from across SEPnet presenting sessions in their areas of expertise, it is intended that the School will benefit students over a wide cross-section of astrophysics. Students will learn not only about the specifics of approaches they may utilise in their current research, but also learn about modelling and simulation techniques being applied in other fields of astrophysics that they may want or need to utilise in their future careers.

Register here. Registration deadline 7 December 2018.