17Jan/22

SEPnet Summer Placements 2022 – Do you have a project/work experience for a physics or maths undergraduate or PhD student?

SEPnet organises over 80 summer placements a year for all 2nd and 3rd year physics and maths undergraduate and PhD students at the above universities and is seeking 8-week plus projects in industry or research in areas such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, programming, product design and testing or science communication.

Who can apply?
The scheme is aimed at any organisations interested in recruiting physics or maths graduates, or who can offer valuable business experience, including large companies, SMEs, start-ups, research institutions, charities and NGOs.

Benefits to employers
• Early access to bright, numerate students with excellent problem-solving and IT skills
• Enables you to carry out projects you would not normally have time for
• Provides a fresh perspective on your business challenges
• All advertising, administration and placement support is handled by the SEPnet team
• Match-funding available for SMEs!

What employers have said:
‘Very satisfied with the whole process, organised and straightforward, with good students.’
‘We took SEPnet students for the second year running and have been very impressed with the calibre, their capabilities and the general high standard. For your records we have just made a permanent job offer to one of the students…’.

Register your placement project, or projects, online here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SEPnet_Summer_Placements_2022_Employer_Registration/ by Friday 11 February. Email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk for further information.

14Jan/22

Portsmouth ICG Public Engagement Team win Prestigious Royal Astronomical Society Annie Maunder Medal

Dr Nicolas Bonne, Dr Jen Gupta and Dr Coleman Krawczyk have been awarded the RAS’s Annie Maunder Medal for their work on the Tactile Universe Project. The Annie Maunder Medal is awarded annually for outstanding outreach work.

The Tactile Universe project delivers workshops that make astronomy accessible to vision-impaired children. Their work enables children between the ages of 7 and 14, to experience the benefits of a multi-sensory learning experience, inspiring them to the wonders of the universe with 3d models of galaxies, the Solar System and using sound. A newly funded STFC project will enable the project to expand its interests to the communicate research into gravitational waves. In addition to delivering workshops, the team have created resource kits and train other practitioners and museums to share knowledge so that the project goals are disseminated widely across the UK. The project has received international recognition through invited conference talks, and media coverage, including an appearance on BBC’s The Sky at Night, and has collaborated with an international installation at the British Science Festival. The Tactile Universe also has international reach through the project’s website, where educators across the world can access developed lesson plans, presentations, and instructions for how to create 3d printed models to deliver astronomy classes to children regardless of their level of vision. The Tactile Universe project and its team are commended for their continuing efforts to create a more inclusive environment that brings astronomy to all.

SEPnet send the Tactile Universe team our heartiest congratulations on this fantastic achievement. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Nic, Jen and Coleman and look forward to continuing to do so through the exciting next phase of the project.

13Jan/22

Machine Learning & AI Online Workshop 12 January 2022

Thank you to Professor Adrian Bevan, Head of Department of Physics and Astronomy, Queen Mary University of London who delivered the GRADnet Machine Learning & AI online workshop on 12 January 2022 to over 40 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.

Adrian’s view of how the day went: “It is important to develop and maintain relevant skills throughout our working lives, from the moment we start studying through to the day we retire. Really great to see a new generation of Physics PhD students as a part of the GRADnet programme follow the 2022 GRADnet Machine Learning workshop today. We had over 50 participants registered for the event, which covered real world use of ML, an introduction to machine learning using TensorFlow, and an overview of how to use data science to predict air-pollution – a global problem that is gaining prominence in terms of links to health.

Our first speaker was an ex-Physicist and Queen Mary University of London alumnus Dr Tom Charman. He now works at Accelex on the use of AI in industry, focusing on NLP application to financial documentation. It was fascinating to see the same kinds of thought processes and workflow ideas that help particle physicists analyse abstract forms of data to find the Higgs boson, and search for new particles at the LHC applied to NLP problems in the real world. This really highlights that the skills sets developed as a physicist are really widely transferable. Learning about the priorities of UK companies in terms of the additional skill sets beyond that taught in the curriculum, is also a great help – as we all need to embrace professional development in our careers, from the outset until the day we retire.

Drs Marcella Bona and Jia-Chen Hue from Queen Mary University of London talked about the SAPIENS (Smart Air Pollution Information Enabling New Solutions) project looking at data sets collected in Mexico City and how from that one can predict air pollution. This was another data science project that used methods (and code!) from an LHC analysis – this time used for rare B decay studies on ATLAS. The ability for physicists to work in a multidisciplinary team of data scientists to study this critical and ubiquitous problem facing populations of large cities across the planet is amazing. Again it highlights the importance of learning how to solve a problem in whatever you want to specialise in and then look for interesting ways to make a difference by applying your knowledge elsewhere. Sharing that expertise across the disciplines helps make great ideas turn into real outcomes.

The tutorial part of the day was run by me with the help of a great graduate student, Joe Davies. We started off looking at a simple linear regression problem using keras. For those of you who studied linear regression at school, yes this is really overkill. However it is a great starting example to pedagogically explore how optimisation works for machine learning and to turn the dry math associated with the books and papers to see in action with a single input, single output problem that can be solved analytically, what happens when you get let loose with the ADAM optimiser. This helps provide a solid grounding to discuss machine learning optimisation problems in general, and is a good way to separate out how optimisation works in practice from the more complicated issues surrounding neural networks in the form of multilayer perceptrons, deep learning and moving on to convolutional neural networks. The workshop stopped there, as we ran out of time at the end of the day having covered a great deal of material. The real stars were the participants. We had some great questions and discussions throughout the day.

This was a SEPnet organised event run at Queen Mary University of London in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Sadly for the second year in a row this was an online-only event, but we are hopeful that next year we will be able to resume in-person meetings and move back to a multi-day workshop on campus, taking on board feedback from the participants to make the workshop even better.

  • If you want to get involved in GRADnet ML 2023 reach out to me via my linked in page to ask how to get involved.
  • The code used in the GRADnet ML tutorial can be found on my git hub page.
  • You can find more of my machine learning teaching material on my teaching home page.”
22Dec/21

Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, 7-10 April 2022, Glasgow – register by 14 January!!

The University of Glasgow is very pleased to host the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics on 7-10 April 2022.

CUWiP encourages female undergraduates to continue in physics by focusing on their development as a scientist and showcasing options for their educational and professional futures.

The 3-day conference programme includes presentations by distinguished women physicists on their cutting-edge research, personal career paths by inspirational women in academia, industry and the third sector and tours of laboratories or local sites of interest.

Additionally, there will be expert panels to answer questions on graduate study and career opportunities outside of academia, workshops on effective assertiveness, imposter syndrome and microaggression as well as plenty of networking opportunities.

The application site is now open and closes on 14 January 2022.
https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/physics/equality/cuwip/

13Dec/21

SEPnet Summer Placements 2022 – Do you have a project/work experience for a physics or maths undergraduate or PhD student?

SEPnet organises over 80 summer placements a year for all 2nd and 3rd year physics and maths undergraduate and PhD students at the above universities and is seeking 8-week plus projects in industry or research in areas such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, programming, product design and testing or science communication.

Who can apply?
The scheme is aimed at any organisations interested in recruiting physics or maths graduates, or who can offer valuable business experience, including large companies, SMEs, start-ups, research institutions, charities and NGOs.

Benefits to employers
• Early access to bright, numerate students with excellent problem-solving and IT skills
• Enables you to carry out projects you would not normally have time for
• Provides a fresh perspective on your business challenges
• All advertising, administration and placement support is handled by the SEPnet team
• Match-funding available for SMEs!

What employers have said:
‘Very satisfied with the whole process, organised and straightforward, with good students.’
‘We took SEPnet students for the second year running and have been very impressed with the calibre, their capabilities and the general high standard. For your records we have just made a permanent job offer to one of the students…’.

Register your placement project, or projects, online here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SEPnet_Summer_Placements_2022_Employer_Registration/ by Friday 11 February. Email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk for further information.

06Dec/21

Revisiting the Leaky Pipeline – short-term contracts and career planning – 5th Annual SEPnet EDI Workshop

SEPnet partner, University of Sussex, recently hosted a half-day online workshop to share good practice in addressing barriers to career progression for women and other under-represented groups in STEM with particular focus on the impact of short-term contracts on career choices on early career researchers (ECRs). The number of people from under-represented groups reduces at each career stage of the academic career path in physics and other STEM disciplines. This workshop focused on the postdoctoral phase of an ECR’s career and explored how the typical series of short-term contracts affects their career choices.

Professor Matthias Keller, head Sussex’s School of Physical Sciences EDI committee, chaired the event. Professor Kathy Romer, also at Sussex, focused on the challenges of managing a successful academic career including dealing with imposter syndrome, the expectation to move institutions (and countries), managing relationships and competing academic careers and dealing with childcare issues. Dr Gregory Ashton at Royal Holloway gave the early career researcher’s perspective highlighting some of the benefits around flexibility and opportunities to travel and gain broad experience and provided tips for ensuring job security and avoiding stagnation. He drew attention to the need for better structural support through clear policies, pointing out that ‘heroes are often examples of failed policy’.

Rana Marrington, ECR Career Consultant at Surrey discussed the value of mentors, the expectation that under-represented individuals are expected to ‘fit in’ and adapt to an existing culture which favours only a few and the benefits of the UKRI’s narrative CV which helps to recognise individuals’ broad skills and experience beyond research. She went on to highlight the benefits of unconscious bias training, transparent progression routes and the importance of having a team of personal and professional individuals on your side. Finally Annika Lohstroh, Lecturer and EDI lead in the School of Physical Sciences at the Open University, identified some of the steps needed to address these issues including the need to move beyond box ticking and truly embed inclusive working practices, clear incident report mechanisms and effective training for managers and supervisors.

Group discussions following the presentations included recommendations for mandatory training for supervisors in supporting their PhD students, addressing the top down culture within universities and regulations regarding processes that can hamper effective communication eg lack of transparency relating to career progression opportunities, complaints procedures etc.

To contribute to this discussion, request to join SEPnet’s Equality & Diversity Champions Network here: SEPnet Equality & Diversity Champions Network | Groups | LinkedIn. To sign up to SEPnet’s Diversity jiscmail group to share information on EDI events and initiatives, email c.soares@surrey.ac.uk.


17Nov/21

SEPnet Expo 2021 celebrates its summer placement students!

85 students showcased their summer placement projects through online presentations and posters to employers, academic tutors and peers at SEPnet’s 13th Expo and the 2nd online.

Students described a range of varied and exciting projects with large and small employers across different industries and research areas including data science, engineering, energy, IT, satellite communication, defence and scientific research.

The event was chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham and an inspiring keynote address was delivered by Dr Mark Richards, Academic, Entrepreneur, Diversity Champion & DJ. An employer panel including representatives from Thales, ISIS Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, AP Sensing and TruLife Optics shared tips and advice with students on career opportunities and skills needs within their fields.

The IOP generously provided prizes for the 6 best posters. The winners included:
Naivasha Williams, University of Kent for her project ‘Monitoring changes in snowfall in Kyrgyzstan using satellite earth observation’ at eOpshere

Mary Sturch, University of Sussex for her project ‘Gamma Camera Calibrations for Molecular Radiotherapy Dosimetry’ at Royal Surrey County Hospital

Mariya Mollova, Royal Holloway for her project ‘Mutual coupling investigation by analysis of the S-parameters in a microstrip antenna’ at Aveillant

Sara Perez Vizan, Royal Holloway for her project ‘Design and Build of an Opto-mechanical Experimental Rig’ at Opsydia

Rosanne Hasan, Royal Holloway for her project ‘ATLAS High Level Trigger’ at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Grainne Wrigley, University of Surrey, ‘Online Resources Development for Discovery Planet’ at University of Kent.

You can view the gallery of all the posters here: SEPnet Students’ Expo 2021 (office.com).

For more information about next year’s summer placement scheme email summerplacements@sepnet.ac.uk.

26Oct/21

GRADnet Induction Day welcomes new SEPnet PGRs

GRADnet welcomed over 100 new PGRs to their online induction day on Wednesday, 20 October 2021.  Dr Olivia Keenan, Acting SEPnet Executive Director and Outreach Director and Cristobel Soares, Graduate Network Manager, led the event with an introduction to what SEPnet is and what GRADnet has to offer postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.

Thank you to Lukas Gunthermann, University of Sussex and Matthew Grayling, University of Southampton who gave presentations on their SEPnet PGR placement experience and the advantages of taking up such an opportunity during their PhD.

Attendees were invited to participate in the following workshops:

  • Intro to Basic Python and Intro to Scientific Python delivered by Dr Tim Kinnear, University of Kent
  • Science Communication Skills led by Dr Claudia Antolini, SEPnet/Ogden Senior Officer for Outreach and Public Engagement, Department of Physics, Royal Holloway, University of London and Hannah Tonry, SEPnet/Ogden Engagement Officer, Division of Natural Sciences, University of Kent
  • Understanding Software for Research delivered by Claire Hepwood, Royal Holloway, University of London

Thank you to our workshop leads for running these informative sessions online and dealing with challenges this entails.  Feedback from one of the attendees:  “It was a really good talk. Astonishing how much Tim could fit into one hour of introduction.”

GRADnet hopes to welcome the next cohort in October 2022 with a face to face event at One Park Crescent in London!

06Oct/21

HE STEM Equality, Diversity & Inclusion – Revisiting the leaky pipeline – short-term contracts and career planning

5th Annual SEPnet Workshop – Wednesday 1 December 10.00 – 13.00
Hosted online by University of Sussex

The number of people from under-represented groups reduces at each career stage of the academic career path in physics and other STEM disciplines. This workshop focuses on the postdoctoral phase of an ECR’s career and explores how the typical series of short-term contracts affects their career choices and what can be done in support of ECRs.

While this issue affects all ECRs, the workshop will focus, in particular, on support for ECRs from under-represented groups. This event is aimed at ECR representatives, HE STEM staff responsible for diversity and inclusion including Athena SWAN, Project Juno and diversity champions, HR managers and academics.

PROGRAMME
10.00 Chair’s introduction
Professor Matthias Keller, University of Sussex

10.10 The challenges of an academic career in physics – overcoming the barriers to career progression
Professor Kathy Romer, University of Sussex

10:35 The effect of short-term contracts on career planning and choices: early career researcher perspective
Dr Gregory Ashton, Early Career Researcher, University of Portsmouth

11:00 Challenges and strategies for career management; supporting underrepresented groups and promoting EDI
Rana Marrington, Careers Consultant (Postgraduate & Early Career Researchers), Doctoral College, University of Surrey

11:25 Break

11:35 Short term contracts and career planning – what are the solutions? An HEI perspective
Dr Annika Lohstroh, Staff Tutor, School of Physical Sciences (SPS), The Open University

12:00 Breakout group discussions
12:30 Group feedback and panel discussion
13:00 Close of proceedings

The workshop is FREE to join. Places are limited. Please register for a place below on a first come, first served basis.

Revisiting the leaky pipeline – short-term contracts and career planning Tickets, Wed 1 Dec 2021 at 10:00 | Eventbrite