Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

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.

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/  

    Q&A with the MIST Awards Taskforce

    By Jasmine Kaur Sandhu

    Last year a group of MIST colleagues teamed up and formed the MIST Awards Taskforce. One year on, I report back on what the Taskforce is and what being part of it involved...

    Meet the team!

    A collage of photos of the MIST Awards Taskforce

    Oliver Allanson - Chair of the MIST Awards Taskforce, MIST Councillor, and postdoctoral researcher at Northumbria University. Oliver currently researches kinetic plasma physics of wave-particle interactions in the Earth’s radiation belts.

    Maria-Theresia Walach - MIST Councillor and postdoctoral researcher at Lancaster University, researching solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere coupling.

    Jonny Rae - Professor at Northumbria University, whose research focuses on substorms, radiation belts, and ULF waves.

    Omakshi Agiwal - PhD student at Imperial College London researching magnetospheric dynamics at Saturn.

    David Stansby - Postdoctoral researcher at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (University College London), researching the Sun and the solar wind.

    Jasmine Kaur Sandhu - Vice-Chair of MIST Council and a postdoctoral researcher at Northumbria University, whose research explores inner magnetospheric dynamics.


    What is the MIST Awards Taskforce?


    We are a group of 6 UK based MIST scientists, with members of different career stages (from PhD students to professors), and from different institutions. Inspired by the recent work of NASA Space Weather Scientist Liz Macdonald to create a Nominations Task Force within AGU’s SPA section, myself and Jasmine decided to try and create something similar in the MIST community. We solicited for members via the MIST mailing list in September 2019: Maria, Jonny, Omakshi and David all signed up! Jim Wild also worked with us for a time and helped us to shape our working practice. We have been trying to work towards the following aims:

    (i) Actively contribute towards equal representation and a diverse range of MIST nominees for national and international awards 

    (ii) Recognise and promote the work of overlooked members of the MIST community 

    (iii) Provide a means for students and ECRs to gain experience in preparing an effective nomination package

    What did being part of the Taskforce involve?


    Roughly every month or two we have Skype calls, and in between those we communicate via slack. Agendas, minutes and actions: a familiar recipe! As a first goal we decided to focus on the RAS awards nominations (deadline 31st July 2020). So, this meant conducting as thorough a review of current MIST researchers as we could, and essentially trying to match that up against the different RAS awards and their criteria. Then we leant on, and shared, knowledge and expertise as best we could in order to produce a set of nomination packages that aligned with our aims. For each chosen nominee, we set up supportive mini-groups with their own individual leads to oversee the nomination process. We decided on our set of nominees by mid-February, and then spent the following months preparing the nominations. 

    How did the Taskforce choose who to nominate?


    This part of the process was probably the most difficult: First, we all came up with suggestions for who to nominate for each award. We tried to consider all members of the community by looking at all the MIST universities and institutions, which helped us to consider as wide a range of researchers as possible. Then we had a few meetings where we discussed the strengths of each potential nominee and decided who to nominate. We decided to base our nominations on which candidates we thought would make the strongest cases. 


    During the process of looking at all the UK MIST researchers, it became apparent to us very quickly that there was a diverse range of candidates who were deserving and eligible for each award. It was initially really difficult for us to decide which, or how many, candidates to nominate. In the end, we decided to nominate one candidate per award on behalf of the Taskforce based on who we thought we could make the strongest case for, and for every other eligible candidate from our discussion, we reached out to individual members of the MIST community to encourage them to nominate the aforementioned candidates, and offered our help with the nomination process should they want/need it. 

    As well as nominating colleagues, the Taskforce also worked on improving the awards and nomination processes in the future. Can you tell us a bit more about this?


    While looking into the awards (RAS/AGU/EGU/COSPAR), we also found that some of the criteria were somewhat unclear and open to interpretation. One of the things we have discussed and started to do as a part of MIST Taskforce is to contact award committees with suggestions of improving their awards descriptions and criteria to encourage a diverse range of nominations for each award, and ensure that we are making the awards as accessible as possible to all members of our scientific community.


    One of the things we learned was that we have very little information about the nominations/nominees from previous years, especially the ones that do not convert into awards. This means for example that tracking the diversity of nominations is very difficult and it is something we are actively looking at changing!


    Yes, I also feel that it is also up to the awards committees to tell their communities some important statistics of nominations and award winners, with a transparent process where the statistics of award winners and nominees could be tracked. I think that there should be a review from all awards committees on the transparency, inclusive language and statistics for all awards.  We found all sorts of interesting potential problems even in our first year and some of them we’re even making some progress in highlighting to the relevant body and working with them to change this for upcoming years.

    Also, a lot of work we did behind the scenes was to discuss the language of individual award calls that were perhaps barriers towards nominating people that were fully deserving of awards but – importantly – we highlighted those problems to the awards committees.  I feel like we have started to help start to change the current awards systems to a more inclusive environment and long may it continue!  

    Finally, one idea that one of the committee had was that we perhaps needed more early career awards, which I think would be a hugely positive step.  As a newly appointed Professor, I don’t think that people at my career stage need more recognition and some awards systems are heavily biased to people such as myself and only have one category for early career researchers.  We need to be celebrating the huge amount of excellence and potential our early career colleagues have to change the field for the better!

    Why did you join the Taskforce?


    Winning an award as an early career researcher can give a great career boost, so it felt like this was also a great way to make a small impact in improving diversity in the wider MIST research community by making sure people who are talented enough to win the awards got nominated.


    First of all, I want science to be inclusive and diverse. Second, I also want to help MIST researchers to continue to gain visibility. I think all of that can be helped by representation and in this case, representation starts with a nomination. And third, I wanted to learn a new skill. Writing a nomination is very different to academic writing and it was something completely new to me! There are so many more reasons to join, but in a nutshell being part of the Taskforce team ticked all those boxes for me.


    It felt like exactly the right initiative and it happened at exactly the right time. I wanted to make some difference in how we as a community nominated our colleagues, and to help others do the same.

    Did you learn or gain anything from this experience?


    I learnt so much! I didn’t know anything about awards or the nomination process before joining the Taskforce, and I now have the skills to put together an entire nomination myself (it’s really not as much work as you might think!). On top of that, I’ve learnt so much more about the efforts being made within the MIST community to improve the diversity and visibility in our field, and I feel more well informed and able to take action having been a part of the Taskforce.


    Yes. It was clear to see that people are very happy to spend time and energy writing nominations, in support of their colleagues. Quite inspiring! I think that we managed to ‘tap into’ that energy, not just within the Taskforce, but also via recommendations to colleagues around the UK.


    For me it was a great exercise in tackling my unconscious biases, and thinking a bit beyond the first names that immediately popped into my head. I definitely learnt that there are lots of people doing great things out there in  the community!


    I learned that there are many great researchers in our field, and their excellence goes way beyond their research.


    Yes, a lot.  Working with the Taskforce opened my eyes to how a diverse committee will lead to a more diverse set of nominations.  Also more about fields other than my own!

    What were the downsides to being part of the Taskforce?


    I think it has been a learning process for all of us, and most of us did not know what we were doing to begin with but we all learned fast!


    No downsides, only upsides!  One minor downside is that instead of doing my usual thing of nominating at the last minute I had to be organised and do things in good time (which I begrudgingly thank my colleagues for helping me to do! :-) )

    What single piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to be part of the Taskforce?


    Anybody can write a good nomination with some support, and this is a brilliant skill to learn.


    If you feel like some of your colleagues don’t get the recognition that they deserve, get involved!  It doesn’t take nearly as much time as you think and honestly, and it’s fun looking through people’s bios and fully appreciating just how good they are!


    Be open-minded and ready to learn.


    Give it a go - I had never written an award nomination before, and doing it with some help from everyone else was a great way to learn and get feedback.

    Did being part of the Taskforce change your perspective of the awards and nominations process?


    In the past, I thought you had to be “of certain calibre” yourself to write a nomination, but this is not true. From the outside it can look a bit daunting and like it is a closed club but I learnt that anyone can write a nomination.


    Absolutely. Without considering everyone in a field you can’t test the language used in the award and the process of nomination and understand how limiting that language might be. 

    What, if any, changes would you like to see from the MIST community?


    I feel like we can all play a role in nominating our colleagues, at all stages of our careers.  I don’t think that is always highlighted by awards committees and I feel like our best nominations this year have come from early career researchers.

    Is the Taskforce going to continue for next year and are there going to be any changes?


    Our intention is to carry on! We will solicit for new members, and we plan to try and work towards international awards as well as UK-based ones. Let’s see if we can develop and encourage more (and more diverse) nomination packages for UK MIST scientists for AGU, EGU and COSPAR awards. Depending on the number of members that would like to join, then we may have to revisit our working practices. TBC! 

    Thanks for reading! If you would like to join the MIST Awards Taskforce or find out more information, then please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!