Thursday, 18 December 2014

REF for Surrey Physics

As everyone in the UK University world is aware, today is the day that the results of the REF – the "Research Excellence Framework" come out.  The results are used to determine how a hefty pot of University funding is distributed, the so-called QR or Quality-Related funding (as opposed to funding won through specific research grants).  Doing well in the REF is therefore very important if you want to have time funded to spend on research.

At Surrey, Physics did creditably.  25% of our submitted research (in the form of papers, and other evidence of impact of research) was considered 4* or "world-leading", 59% was 3* or "internationally excellent" and 16% was 2* "internationally recognised" with nothing falling into 1* ("nationally recognised") or unclassified.  How this will be turned into funding is not yet clear, but I think that's a good result for us, and a steady improvement on last time.  

I should give due credit to my colleagues who did a vast amount of work preparing the case.  Thanks all.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

MPhys student placement prize

At Surrey, we send our MPhys students away for a year of their studies to perform a research project at an external institution.  This is a bit different to most UK MPhys programmes, and derives from Surrey's history of always sending out its students on traditional sandwich years.

Thanks to the nature of the Physics Department's research strengths and our external research links, quite a proportion of our students go on placements in nuclear physics.  One such student, Tom Dyer, is on placement right now at AWE (the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment) and got to present his work at a conference (SPIE Security + Defence Conference, Sep 2014).  This is already a great thing for an undergraduate student to be able to do as part of their studies.  That wasn't enough for Tom, though -- he also had to go ahead and win the prize for the best student paper in the "Electro-Optical and Infra-red Systems: Technology and Applications" section.  His work is on using fibre-optic cables to make tamper-indicating enclosures for use in nuclear arms control.  The full paper is available here (though you might need to access it from a IP address inside a subscribing institution - I'm not entirely sure).

Well done, Tom!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Gruesome extracurricular activities

In the past I've reported on some of the successes of Surrey physics students in their academic endeavours.  This time it's the turn of one of our final year undergraduates, George, who won, along with the rest of the band he's in, Joanna Gruesome, this year's Welsh Music Prize, for their first LP, Weird Sister.  They were up against some stiff competition, including the Manic Street Preachers, and ex-Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys.  

Well done George and the rest of the band.  See you in relativity class tomorrow...