MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

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.

Call for applications for STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum

 

The STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum (the ‘PEER Forum’) will support talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career to develop their public engagement and outreach goals, to ensure the next generation of STFC scientists and engineers continue to deliver the highest quality of purposeful, audience-driven public engagement.

Applications are being taken until 4pm on 3 June 2021. If you would like to apply, visit the PEER Forum website, and if you have queries This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The PEER Forum aims:

  • To foster peer learning and support between early career scientists and engineers with similar passion for public engagement and outreach, thus developing a peer support network that goes beyond an individual’s term in the forum 
  • To foster a better knowledge and understanding of the support mechanisms available from STFC and other organisations, including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting. As well as how to successfully access and utilise this support 
  • To explore the realities of delivering and leading public engagement as an early career professional and build an evidence base to inform and influence STFC and by extension UKRI’s approaches to public engagement, giving an effective voice to early career researchers

What will participation in the Forum involve?

Participants in the PEER Forum will meet face-to-face at least twice per year to share learning and to participate in session that will strengthen the depth and breadth of their understanding of public engagement and outreach.

Who can apply to join the Forum?

The PEER Forum is for practising early-career scientists and engineers who have passion and ambition for carrying out excellent public engagement alongside, and complementary to, their career in science or engineering. We are seeking Forum members from across the breadth of STFC’s pure and applied science and technology remit.

The specific personal requirements of PEER Forum membership are that members:

  • Have completed (or currently studying for – including apprentices and PhD students) their highest level of academic qualification within the last ten years (not including any career breaks)
  • Are employed at a Higher Education Institute, or a research-intensive Public Sector Research Organisation or Research Laboratory (including STFC’s own national laboratories)
  • Work within a science and technology field in STFC’s remit, or with a strong inter-disciplinary connection to STFC’s remit, or use an STFC facility to enable their own research
  • Clearly describe their track record of experience in their field, corresponding to the length of their career to date
  • Clearly describe their track record of delivering and leading, or seeking the opportunity to lead, public engagement and/or outreach
  • Can provide insight into their experiences in public engagement and/or outreach and also evidence one or more of
  • Inspiring others
  • Delivering impact
  • Demonstrating creativity
  • Introducing transformative ideas and/or inventions
  • Building and sustaining collaborations/networks
  • Are keen communicators with a willingness to contribute to the success of a UK-wide network
  • https://stfc.ukri.org/public-engagement/training-and-support/peer-forum/  

    Astronet Science Vision & Infrastructure Roadmap

     

    Astronet is a consortium of European funding agencies, established for the purpose of providing advice on long-term planning and development of European Astronomy. Setup in 2005, its members include most of the major European astronomy nations, with associated links to the European Space Agency, the European Southern Observatory, SKA, and the European Astronomical Society, among others. The purpose of the Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap is to deliver a coordinated vision covering the entire breadth of astronomical research, from the origin and early development of the Universe to our own solar system.

    The first European Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap for Astronomy was created by Astronet, using EU funds, in 2008/09, and updated in 2014/15. Astronet is now developing a new Science Vision & Infrastructure Roadmap, in a single document with an outlook for the next 20 years. A delivery date to European funding agencies of mid-2021 is anticipated. 

    The Science Vision and Infrastructure Roadmap revolves around the research themes listed below:

    • Origin and evolution of the Universe
    • Formation and evolution of galaxies
    • Formation & evolution of stars
    • Formation & evolution of planetary systems
    • Understanding the solar system and conditions for life

    but will include cross-cutting aspects such as computing and training and sustainability.

     

    After some delays due to the global pandemic, the first drafts of the chapters for the document are now available from the Panels asked to draft them, for you to view and comment on. For the Science Vision & Roadmap to be truly representative it is essential we take account of the views of as much of the European astronomy and space science community as possible – so your input is really valued by the Panels and Astronet. Please leave any comments, feedback or questions on the site by 1 May 2021.

    It is intended that a virtual “town hall” style event will be held in late Spring 2021, where an update on the project and responses to the feedback will be provided.

    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..