SciTech bulletin

Christmas Conference: Jonathan Butterworth to talk on 'Science in Public'

Professor Jonathan Butterworth

Come to this year's Christmas conference on Tuesday 18 December to hear Professor Jonathan Butterworth giving a talk on 'Science in public: finding a Higgs boson in the media spotlight'.

Professor Butterworth is head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London, and a member of the Atlas experiment at Cern's Large Hadron Collider. Before this, he grew up in Manchester, did his doctorate in Oxford and worked on the electron-proton collider in Hamburg. He is a member of STFC's Science Board. He also writes the Life and Physics blog for the Guardian.

Professor Butterworth's abstract:

Science, the media and the public have a complicated relationship, often fraught with misunderstanding. Particle physics is in an odd position since public interest is very high, but unlike many frequently-discussed scientific fields the results do not directly make money, cure diseases or affect the environment. Nevertheless, many issues are common between all areas of science; these include the need to discuss the scientific process, caveats, funding issues, errors and uncertainties and evidence, and the nature of scientific knowledge itself, are all key. I will talk through some of this using examples from my own experience, including the role of social media, and also speculate how this might have any impact on impact, in the REF sense.

Keep an eye on the bulletin for more details of the conference.

In preparation for REF2014 - REF Steering Group

HEFCE has approved Lancaster University's Code of Practise for REF (Available via Lancaster's REF pages). The University REF Steering Group has set a deadline of 21 December 2012 for submission of a full working set of REF2014 paperwork. The REF Steering Group intends taking most of its decisions concerning staff inclusion for REF2014 by Easter 2013, allowing for late developments before the submission deadline on 29 November 2013.

Proposing outputs for REF2014 via Pure

In preparation for this, all REF-eligible staff are requested to use the "Propose outputs for REF2014" tab in Pure - Lancaster University's research information system - to select and rank the 4 outputs they propose to submit to REF2014. This can only be done from outputs that are available in Pure and the user will be able to substitute new outputs and re-order their own ranking. The REF Steering Group will use this Pure module only to determine staff inclusion into the REF2014 submission.

Submitting a staff disclosure form

All REF-eligible staff are requested to fill in the Staff Disclosure Form and return it to Yvonne Fox by the deadline of 21 December 2012. The information provided may allow for a reduction in the number of outputs staff need to submit to REF2014, which can be advantageous. The information provided is strictly confidential. The REF Steering Group will only know that some staff are eligible for fewer than 4 outputs, but not the reason why.

Impact case studies

Over the summer, The Faculty supported the impact case study authors with a 10-week summer intern programme, which focussed on evidence collection. The Authors remain fully responsible for their impact case studies. Authors who availed themselves of this facility found it very useful. Impact case studies should also be submitted to by the deadline of 21 December 2012. The FST Impact Action Group (currently Mark Bacon and Nigel Paul) and myself will provide feedback on these texts in January of 2013.

Selection of staff for submission

Since the University is aiming to maximise its rank position in each UoA, we expect the number of staff submitted to REF2014 will be significantly below the 90% submitted for RAE2008. Since only 3* and 4* outputs will attract HEFCE funding, there is no point in aiming for a grade point average of less than 3.0 in any UoA. Of course, many staff will have outputs of international quality (i.e. 2*) but these shall have to counter-balanced by 4* outputs, where available, in order to achieve the target minimum grade point average and, through this, a good ranking for each UoA. Logically, it follows that not all REF-eligible staff will be submitted as the tactics play out to achieve our strategy in the best interests of the University and its future. The REF Steering Group is mindful that its decisions, some very difficult, should not impact on staff career potential. However, the REF2014 is a tactical game where the whole is more important than the individuals.

Michael Kosch
Associate Dean for Research

Grant News

Science and Technology Research Grants have been awarded to:

Science and Technology Conference Grants have been awarded to:

Guidelines for research grant approvals

There is a new guidance document available in the documents section of faculty website concering proposals for externally funded research. Download the PDF

BBC Media Training for Women

The BBC Academy are running a media training course for women interested in representing their science in the media, with the aim of boosting the representation of women as guest contributors and presenters in the media. The course is on Friday 18 January in London. More details are available on the BBC website.

Business Partnerships and Enterprise

Energy Lancaster

Building on the success of the Postgraduate Certificate in Energy and Fuels from Waste launched last year, Energy Lancaster hosted a free event on October 24th at LEC for organisations that wanted to know more about the advances in energy and fuels from waste sector and the activities being conducted at Energy Lancaster. Attendees included a mix of public sector organisations and energy and environmental sector businesses, e.g. Lancashire County Council, a representative from the Welsh Government, BAE Systems, Clark energy, O-Gen UK and JWS Waste.

The event was run in partnership with Stopford Energy and Environment, a division of Stopford Projects Ltd; a Lancaster Environment Centre based multidisciplinary engineering, energy, and environment consultancy.

"Stopford believe the partnership with Energy Lancaster and the university delivers a long overdue training requirement to the energy from waste sector. The event provided an excellent insight into the training provision available." Dr Ben Herbert, Stopford Energy and Environment Ltd.

Read more

Security Lancaster

MSc Cyber Security students gain insight from global security business Secarma: Security Lancaster strengthened its relationship with Secarma, a security business specialising in rapid business continuity and data recovery solutions, by inviting Stuart Coulson, Head of Sales, to be a guest lecturer for MSc Cyber Security students. Covering hot security topics including "bring your own device" "cloud security" and "securing the supply chain" Stuart gave the students valuable insight into the commercial impact that security risks like these can have on businesses.

The Faculty of Science and Technology now has its own dedicated Student Employability Manager in recently-appointed Pam Pickles. Pam commented "Experience working with employers and business to solve real-world problems is what makes graduates stand out to potential recruiters. Relationships such as this between the MSc in Cyber Security and Secarma enhance and develop the employability of our graduates and postgraduates, so important in today's competitive job market."

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Chinese delegation visits Lancaster to develop joint International Research and Innovation Centre: Scientists and business leaders from China visited Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) last week to develop plans for the International Research and Innovation Centre for the Environment (IRICE). IRICE is a joint initiative between the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Lancaster University (LU).

The 14 guests from China included business leaders from Guangdong Province, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a senior scientist from the Pearl River Basin Water Resources Protection Bureau and senior representation from the Chinese Embassy in London: Mr Futao Chen, Minister Counsellor in Science and Technology, Mr Zhongcheng Wang, First Secretary and the Head of Science and Innovation from the British Consulate General Guangzhou.

The new UK-China Centre will grow both research and new business partnerships across China with a focus on innovative solutions for environmental and human health protection.

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