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Computing Advisory Panel

The purpose of the Computing Advisory Panel (CAP) is to advise the STFC Executive on the strategy for, and management of, provision for computing resources (including data handling, data storage, software and hard provisions, skills, and developments in high performance and high throughput computing) in support of programmes either funded or delivered by STFC. The last CAP meeting took place on the 5 December 2018, with the next meeting due to take place on 21 May 2019.

Organisational Structure


  • Professor David Colling - Imperial College London


Prof Mark Hannam obtained his BSc and MSc in New Zealand, and completed a PhD in the United States. He has worked as a researcher in the USA, Austria, Germany, Ireland and the UK.

He joined the gravitational physics group at Cardiff University in 2010, and was made a professor in 2015. His work is on numerical-relativity simulations of black-hole collisions, and modelling the gravitational-wave signals from merging black holes. The gravitational-wave models that he and his collaborators worked on were used to decode the signals from the first direct detections of gravitational waves by the Advanced LIGO detectors in 2015.

His research now focusses on extracting fundamental physics and astrophysics from black-hole observations.

Arttu Rajantie is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. His research lies on the interface of quantum field theory and theoretical cosmology. He is interested in the dynamics of the Higgs field in the early Universe and its potentially observable signatures in the cosmic microwave and gravitational wave backgrounds and what it can tell us about the fundamental laws of nature.

He also studies the dynamics of magnetic monopoles in quantum field theory and is a member of the MoEDAL collaboration, which is searching for magnetic monopoles and other highly ionising particles at the Large Hadron Collider. His work involves lattice field theory simulations carried out on the STFC DiRAC facility and elsewhere.

Arttu is from Finland and got his PhD from the University of Helsinki. Before moving to Imperial College in 2005, he held postdoctoral positions at the universities of Sussex and Cambridge.

Dr Deborah Sijacki is a reader in Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Institute of Astronomy and is interested in the formation and evolution of cosmic structures from small mass galaxies at high redshifts to the most massive galaxy clusters of the present-day Universe.

Structure formation is one of the most fascinating fields of astrophysics. Due to the non-linearity and large variety of physical phenomena occurring on a vast range of scales, it is very challenging to model theoretically, and the full complexity of these processes still needs to be unravelled.

My primary research focus is on developing novel numerical models which can follow self-consistently the formation and growth of cosmic structures, including all of the three major constituents: dark energy, dark matter and baryons.

In particular, I focus on hydro dynamical modelling of important astrophysical phenomena, such as active galactic nuclei, to understand how they influence the formation, growth and morphologies of the galaxies we observe today.

Dr Stuart Sim began his research career as a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2003. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Garching, Germany) and Mount Stromlo Observatory (Australian National University) before taking up his current position as a Lecturer in Physics in the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast.

His research interest lies in the numerical modelling of radiation transport and spectral synthesis. To date, his studies have included applications to stellar chromospheres/coronae, hot star winds, disk winds / outflows from accreting systems, and supernovae. Currently, the primary focus of his work is in the development and testing of theoretical models for thermonuclear supernova explosions. In particular, he develops Monte Carlo radiative transfer simulations that allow synthetic light curves, spectra and spectropolarimetry to be computed and used to interpret observational data and constrain explosion theories.

Mr Ash Vadgama has worked within High Performance Computing for over 28 years and currently specialises in delivering commercial HPC Services. Ash originally started as a computer scientist developing parallel scientific software on early vector supercomputers like the Convex C220, then went on to lead early developments in Linux HPC clusters. He also developed innovative technologies - including the development of a multi-user secure optical visualisation network. After many years working on HPC technologies & emerging technologies, Ash moved into leadership and led the HPC business unit for a few years, after which he moved into HPC programme / financial management. Ash developed long-term HPC strategic Petascale capabilities and worked with US national laboratories/other international HPC programmes. Ash continues today to collaborate with the UK defence industry to help develop their HPC strategies, HPC infrastructure and scientific applications.

Ash passionately supports HPC as a fundamental tool for Science within UK PLC working with UK Research Councils and Academia (as an industrial advisor) to support funding calls and long-term strategies for sustainable UK-wide supercomputing. His areas of research include Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computation & Technologies, Cyber-Security, emerging technologies and supporting innovation for UK science and industry.

Ash holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Electronics from University of London, and a Masters in Software Engineering from Oxford University. Ash is a Chartered IT Professional.

Professor Dan Watts works in the field of hadron and nuclear physics utilising intense electromagnetic beams at the Thomas Jefferson Laboratory in the USA and the Mainz microtron, MAMI, Germany. His research interests include searches for gluonic degrees of freedom in matter, precision measurements of nuclear structure (e.g. neutron skins on heavy nuclei), neutron star structure and exotic multiquark states. Prof Watts also carries out medical physics research, currently working in developing new analysis methods and simulations for PET medical imaging in collaboration with industry. Prof Watts obtained his Ph.D at the University of Glasgow and took up an appointment at Edinburgh following a fellowship based in Germany.

Bio to come.

In attendance

  • Dr Tom Griffin – STFC RAL SCD
  • Dr Alison Kennedy – STFC Hartree Centre


Terms of reference

The main duties of the Computing Advisory Panel will be to provide advice on:

  • The existing status of, and future requirements in, computing resources for the science communities and programmes supported by STFC
  • Future STFC computational strategy
  • Strategies to coordinate scientific computing provision across STFC, and for coordinating e-science and HPC developments with the other UK Research Councils and other relevant national and international activities
  • The development of STFC's requirements for next generation computing facilities
  • Priorities for funding to support the highest quality, high impact programme
  • Opportunities for dissemination and synergies with other programmes

Computing Advisory Panel Actions

CAP has provided reports to the STFC Executive and Science Board as appropriate. CAP has:


Last updated: 29 March 2019


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