Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

RAS Awards

The Royal Astronomical Society announced their award recipients last week, and MIST Council would like to congratulate all that received an award. In particular, we would like to highlight the following members of the MIST Community, whose work has been recognised:
  • Professor Nick Achilleos (University College London) - Chapman Medal
  • Dr Oliver Allanson (University of Birmingham) - Fowler Award
  • Dr Ravindra Desai (University of Warwick) - Winton Award & RAS Higher Education Award
  • Professor Marina Galand (Imperial College London) - James Dungey Lecture

New MIST Council 2021-

There have been some recent ingoings and outgoings at MIST Council - please see below our current composition!:

  • Oliver Allanson, Exeter (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2024 -- Chair
  • Beatriz Sánchez-Cano, Leicester (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2024
  • Mathew Owens, Reading (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2023
  • Jasmine Sandhu, Northumbria (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2023 -- Vice-Chair
  • Maria-Theresia Walach, Lancaster (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2022
  • Sarah Badman, Lancaster (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2022
    (co-opted in 2021 in lieu of outgoing councillor Greg Hunt)

Charter amendment and MIST Council elections open

Nominations for MIST Council open today and run through to 8 August 2021! Please feel free to put yourself forward for election – the voting will open shortly after the deadline and run through to the end of August. The positions available are:

  • 2 members of MIST Council
  • 1 student representative (pending the amendment below passing)

Please email nominations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 8 August 2021. Thank you!

Charter amendment

We also move to amend the following articles of the MIST Charter as demonstrated below. Bold type indicates additions and struck text indicates deletions. Please respond to the email on the MIST mailing list before 8 August 2021 if you would like to object to the amendment; MIST Charter provides that it will pass if less than 10% of the mailing list opposes its passing. 

4.1  MIST council is the collective term for the officers of MIST and consists of six individuals and one student representative from the MIST community.

5.1 Members of MIST council serve terms of three years, except for the student representative who serves a term of one year.

5.2 Elections will be announced at the Spring MIST meeting and voting must begin within two months of the Spring MIST meeting. Two slots on MIST council will be open in a given normal election year, alongside the student representative.

5.10 Candidates for student representative must not have submitted their PhD thesis at the time that nominations close.

SSAP roadmap update

The STFC Solar System Advisory Panel (SSAP) is undertaking a review of the "Roadmap for Solar System Research", to be presented to STFC Science Board later this year. This is expected to be a substantial update of the Roadmap, as the last full review was carried out in 2012, with a light-touch update in 2015.

The current version of the SSAP Roadmap can be found here.

In carrying out this review, we will take into account changes in the international landscape, and advances in instrumentation, technology, theory, and modelling work. 

As such, we solicit your input and comments on the existing roadmap and any material we should consider in this revision. This consultation will close on Wednesday 14 July 2021 and SSAP will try to give a preliminary assessment of findings at NAM.

This consultation is seeking the view of all members of our community and we particularly encourage early career researchers to respond. Specifically, we invite:

Comments and input on the current "Roadmap for Solar System Research" via the survey by clicking here.

Short "white papers" on science investigations (including space missions, ground-based experimental facilities, or computing infrastructure) and impact and knowledge exchange (e.g. societal and community impact, technology development). Please use the pro-forma sent to the MIST mailing list and send your response to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Quo vadis interim board


A white paper called "Quo vadis, European space weather community" has been published in J. Space Weather Space Clim. which outlines plans for the creation of an organisation to represent the European space weather community.
Since it was published, an online event of the same name was organised on 17 March 2021. A “Quo Vadis Interim Board” was then set up, to establish a mechanism for this discussion, which will go on until June 21st.

The Interim Board is composed of volunteers from the community in Europe. Its role is to coordinate the efforts so that the space weather (and including space climate) European community can:

  1. Organise itself
  2. Elect people to represent them

To reach this goal, the Interim Board is inviting anyone interested in and outside Europe to join the “Quo Vadis European Space Weather Community ” discussion forum.

Eligible European Space Weather Community members should register to the “Electoral Census” to be able to vote in June for the final choice of organisation.

This effort will be achieved through different actions indicated on the Quo Vadis webpage and special Slack workspace.

Applying for jobs as a recovering academic

by Stephen Browett

Last year I finished my PhD from the University of Southampton and I am now working as a Technical Analyst for a tech start-up in my hometown of Birmingham. This blog post describes a very honest account of how I tackled the hardest problem I faced after finishing my PhD: working out what I wanted to do next. I hope that this helps people who are unsure about moving into industry and need advice on how to go about making decisions on their future career.

A photo from my graduation!

Full disclaimer: at the time that I was walking out of the door at Southampton I had no industry experience of any kind, I did not have any idea what I wanted to do and I did not have any connections with anyone in industry who could offer me a job; all I had was a piece of paper saying I had a PhD.


#PhDone! What next?

Deciding to leave academia was a hard decision to make, especially when completing a PhD provides an incredible sense of accomplishment. I was very tempted to stay in academia because of that feeling and, I am sure, some of those who are undecided about what they want to do following a PhD stay in academia because of it; however, for me it was not enough and I decided to “sell out” (as some of my friends lovingly put it) and get a “real job” (as I lovingly put it to some of my friends) in industry.

How I figured it out

Deciding to move into industry immediately presented the most difficult question: “what do I want to do now?” In order to answer this question I took a pragmatic approach which started by listing all of the parts of doing a PhD that I had enjoyed. For me, this list comprised of: designing and implementing original analyses; coding in Python; working as part of a team and presenting results. This list gave me some criteria to check every job advert against so that I could make a decision as to whether or not I felt capable of doing that job (beware imposter syndrome at this point, you can do more than you think!).

A list of criteria for a job is all well and good but is useless unless that job also motivates you; a job needs that special something that takes it from “I could do that” to “I want to do that”. For example, I have spoken to people who want to feel like they are making an impact at a company; some people want to feel like they are changing the world; and others want good progression opportunities. All of these are perfectly legitimate requirements and each person will have different priorities. I wanted to be able to dictate the direction of my own work. This is something we get to do a lot during our PhDs and I felt that I needed that creative outlet that comes with self-autonomy. Personally, I had several interviews where I came out at the end thinking “that place is really boring!” which, in the end, meant that I decided to withdraw from the application processes; remember that a company should also be trying to impress you during an interview, if they are not trying hard enough then are they not that interested?

The combination of my list of criteria for a job as well as my own priorities and interests had made me decide that I wanted to work in the tech sector but which job I wanted specifically was still very much undecided. In the Venn diagram of all the jobs that exist, I knew I was looking for the intersection of the set of jobs that I wanted to do and the set of jobs that I was qualified to do. Having decided on what jobs I wanted to do, I then needed to turn my attention to defining the set of jobs that I was qualified to do. In order to tell what job you are qualified to do when you have no experience is not an easy task (especially as it requires detailed self-analysis) so you have to analyse all of the work you have ever done and come up with a list of your skills (with some painfully contrived examples of when you used those skills) to put on a ‘skills based’ CV. The kind of skills I decided I had included coding (Python), problem solving (PhD, duh!) oral and written communication skills and the ability to teach myself new skills (this is always a good one). Putting this list together made me realise what doing a PhD had made me learn and that those days scratching my head over a problem, which felt like wasted days at the time (as is the pressure of doing a PhD), were actually days where I was adding another string to my bow which I can now show to potential employers. This kind of introspective analysis, however, does not come very easily to me and so this is when a visit to the university’s careers advice centre really helped out. These career advice centres are really useful places and after only a couple of meetings (only one of which was actually scheduled with them) at the centre on Southampton’s Highfield campus I had a CV and covering letter that I was very proud of and, after discussions around my skill set with a careers advisor, I had decided I wanted to be a data scientist or data analyst.

Getting that dream job!

Applying for jobs made me realise another gift from the PhD in that it opened doors. I was being contacted about jobs I had not applied for (some were offering salaries 5 times what I was getting from my PhD stipend). Recruiters pay to have access to CVs that people post onto job board sites and share the good ones with their colleagues and so I was getting contacted about all kinds of jobs and the recruiters could not do enough to try and find me a job I wanted (albeit so that they would get paid by the company who hires me but there is still a compliment in there) all because I had ‘Dr’ in my title. It was not long before I was contacted about a job at a tech start-up company called Covatic. They were looking to establish a research and development team in Birmingham and so were looking for highly educated/ well experienced people to set it up. I was asked if I would be interested in applying for a Technical Analyst role which comprised of various research and data science projects that I would be able to specify in conjunction with the data scientist and Chief Technical Officer, I told them I was very interested. I kind of flunked the phone interview, this was the first job I had found which I was really interested in and I let the pressure get to me but, fortunately, they had seen something in me because they invited me in for a face-to-face interview. I was determined not to fail this one as well so I took every bit of information I could from the telephone interview and pored over anything that looked relevant in my PhD notes. As a result the physical interview went much better and ended up with me and the data scientist riffing about ideas for potential data projects and what technical challenges we would have to overcome. Both of us found this very exciting and I think it is what ultimately led to a job offer which I eagerly accepted.

At the time of writing this article I have been working at Covatic for nearly a year but, due to the timing of my viva, I have only graduated a few weeks ago. Going back to university after time away from it afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon my decision to leave and the personal progress that I have made since leaving. I feel that whilst I miss the university lifestyle, I have had so much more opportunity to improve my technical abilities in industry and, as a result, I have become much more confident in myself and my abilities. So, one year after starting my job and having just hired a junior with whom I will start up my own team within the company, I have no doubt that moving into industry was the best thing for me to do.

The Covatic Team!

Further reading:

  • Good websites to search for jobs:

https://www.indeed.co.uk (covers a wide range of industries)

https://www.cwjobs.co.uk (tech specific)

https://stackoverflow.com/jobs (tech specific)

If you have any questions about finding your career path post-PhD then you can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..