PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08) UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK Physics PG-SSLC MINUTES Date: Friday 18th January, 2008 Time: 13:00 Venue: P520b 1. Welcome and Apologies Present: Malcolm Cooper, David Leadley, Oleg Petrenko, Helen Ireland, Ben Parkinson, Bianca Barbu (Chair), Ruth Nicol (Secretary), Dean Keeble, Dan Baker, Martin Haigh, Phillip Petcher, Francis Casson, Matt Brown, Thomas Hayes, Karl Svensson, Kathrin Wűnsch, Lieke van Spaandonk, Stephanie Liggins and Ulrika D'Haenens-Johansson Apologies: Jenny O'Leary, Valery Nakariakov, Geetha Balakrishnan, Peter Wheatley and Nathan Barrow 2. Minutes of the Last Meeting (a) Agreement of Minutes The minutes from the 23rd November, 2007 were agreed. (b) Matters Arising i. Library Five PhD students have confirmed they would like to attend a database/library training session specifically for Physics. Helen Ireland has scheduled this to take place during the first week of February and further details will be sent out shortly. The 2nd floor of the Library is opening the week starting Monday, 21st January, 2008. This floor will also be equipped with PCs and video rooms and will enable easier access to the floor 2 extension, which houses books and journals. Further additions have been made to the library's online resources, these are available via the Library webpages. ii. Careers Event Several meetings have taken place between the UG and PG-SSLC representatives, the postgraduate coordinator, Ben Parkinson, and the UG and PG careers advisors, Karen Barker and Jenny O'Leary. The event envisaged from these meetings would try to involve all levels of study, from undergraduates to postdoctoral research assistants, and would be more research career orientated with representation from different companies, who work closely with the Physics Department. Alumni would also be invited to come and speak about their work experiences. The problem was raised that only about 20% of physics graduates actually continue PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08) careers in science and research, and that a Physics degree was often vaunted as providing generic skills, which were applicable in a wide range of fields. An event excluding city jobs/companies for example, might lack variety and not cover the full range of career possibilities available. It was proposed that it should be highlighted that it was a careers event for a subset of options, and publicised as a careers in Research event for example. A date has been proposed; Thursday, 6th March, approx. 4-7pm. However room availabilities still need to be checked, as Chemistry hold their weekly colloquia on Thursdays. ACTION: The Chair will check the availability of PLT and the Physics Concourse for this date. A request for funds was also made, and it was confirmed that the Department was willing to support such an event financially. It was also asked whether any contact had been made yet with any companies and/or alumni. This has not happened yet and it was then suggested that staff could be e-mailed for lists of present/past students still working in research areas. It would also be useful if the different group representatives could communicate to the Chair details of any companies their groups work with. It was requested that the big companies particularly interested in graduates with Physics PhDs should be targeted and invited to attend, specifically those with PhD orientated graduate programs. The point was then raised that alumni working for such companies might also be able to provide useful information. ACTION: The Chair will contact relevant staff to enquire about alumni. Group reps are asked to inquire within their groups of any companies they are particularly interested in and e-mail the Chair with the details. The idea of a two-day fair, with one research orientated day and a second day more focused on the other available options for Physics graduates, was also proposed. However it was felt that there was not enough time to organise such a large-scale event, within the available time. The idea will be retained as a possibility for next year. The UG-SSLC made a request for current PhDs to talk about their experiences. It was suggested that representatives from different years and groups (theoretical and experimental) could be invited to speak. ACTION: Any students interested should contact the Chair or the Secretary. 3. Academic Matters i. Midland Physics Alliance Graduate Schools The Workshop in December was attended by a few Warwick students, however it was felt that the compulsory nature of this workshop had not been enforced. The point was also raised that rather than a course on Data Analysis as publicised, it had actually been more of an occasion for the students on the Probes MPAGS course to be assessed by individual presentations. This was not felt to have been useful for the students not taking this course. The social aims of the workshop were then highlighted as being the main purpose of the PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08) event, in order to bring together students from Warwick, Birmingham and Nottingham. However the poor attendance was a problem. It was suggested that to improve such workshops in the future, the aims and objectives could be made clearer from the outset. The event could be better publicised such that the students attending could be sure of the relevance of the workshop to their own work/ research interests. A comment was also made on the fact that it was necessary to register for some courses online but not others, this was felt to be ambiguous and confusing. It was indeed confirmed that not all courses require online registration. The lack of relevance of the current MPAGS courses to certain groups, such as astrophysics, was also raised. Due to funding constraints, the courses are being developed over several years, with the condensed matter physics courses being introduced first. It is hoped that more funding will allow the employment of more staff to promote more courses, however until then it was suggested that students should consult with their supervisors as to which courses they need attend. It was highlighted that MPAGS was still only six months old, and although there were still many problems remaining, many had also been overcome, in particular with respect to the initial multimedia problems. It was suggested that constructive feedback from the 1st year PhDs attending the courses would also help the further improvement of MPAGS. To this end the implementation of an anonymous online forum was proposed, as well as possibly the distribution of feedback questionnaires at the end of the lectures. ACTION: Ben Parkinson will create and publicise an online MPAGS feedback forum within the next couple of weeks. Students can also contact him directly ([email protected]) with any queries/problems. ii. PG Deadlines PhD students in their third year need to submit a thesis plan by Monday, 3rd March, which will then be followed by an interview with the Head of Department on Tueday, 11th March. The thesis plan needs to include a timeplan, which could vary depending on the PhD length (3 or 4 years). PhD students in their first year will need to submit a 1st year report by Monday, 7th April. 4. Social Events i. PG colloquium The PG seminar series will be starting up again on Thursday, 24th January. Anyone wanting to give a talk should contact Dan Baker ([email protected]). ii. Brewery visit Dean Keeble is investigating the possibility of organising a Brewery visit within the next few months, more details will be circulated shortly. 5. Any Other Business PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08) i. Elections 2007/2008 Committee CFSA representative: Francis Casson ii. Office space update The move to Milburn House of the MR groups should take place before the next academic year. Currently all Departments and Centres are providing details of their space usage, and it is hoped that the Estates move to Arden House will possibly provide some more room for the Physics Department. However, in the short term, relief is limited and there might be a shortage of room in Physical Sciences, meaning that some offices might be moved to the main Physics building. Long term plans involve the construction of a new Physics/Chemistry building with joint facilities (possibly by 2010) as part of the science faculty expansion plan. ACTION: For the committee to be kept informed of any new developments within the department or groups concerning this matter. 6. Next Meeting and Dates to Note The next meeting will be on the 7th March, 2008 at 13:00 in P520b. The next PG colloquium will be on the 24th January, 2008 at 17:00 in the Physics common room.