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News from Science Board - 2009

Science Board met on the 7th and 8th December 2009 at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell. The main item on the agenda was the completion of the prioritisation exercise. This included the development of recommendations on the programme following presentations from PPAN and PALS.

Science Board welcomed the input from the Advisory Panels that report to PPAN and PALS and the Ground-Based Facilities Review of Astronomy. Science Board thanked the Advisory Panels for the exceptional job they had done in gaining input from their communities and prioritising their respective areas but recognised that it was not possible to take forward all of the high priority projects within the current funding envelope.

Science Board also thanked PPAN and PALS for their hard work during what has been a very difficult task. Science Board acknowledged the high level of transparency of the process.

Science Board noted that STFC currently has a highly efficient and world-leading science programme recognised by the international community as being exceptional value for money. Given the current funding situation, it was with great regret that Science Board was unable to recommend a programme that allows the UK to pursue all of the opportunities considered within the prioritisation exercise. All the projects that were considered are expected to provide excellent and inspirational science opportunities with impact in the future. It was very clear that in many cases, future creativity would have to be sacrificed for financial probity.

In its deliberations Science Board recognised that the only solution to current funding levels was a major restructuring and re-alignment of the programme in order to fund a smaller number of projects optimally.

Science Board acknowledged that this restructuring of the programme will have a deep impact on physics departments with UK universities.

Science Board noted that whilst projects and facilities were ranked based on their scientific excellence, economic impact, societal impact, leadership and synergies; the majority of those ranked α5 and α4 took advantage of the international subscriptions to CERN, ESA, ESO, ESRF and ILL. In light of this outcome, Science Board re-affirmed its commitment to these international subscriptions recognising the opportunities to the world-leading science that they bring.

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STFC’s Science Board held its most recent business meeting on 19th-20th October 2009 at Polaris House in Swindon. Science Board’s main business concerned its ongoing work in prioritising future science and technology opportunities and the consultation process that has been put in place to prioritise STFC’s programme for 2010/11 and beyond.

Science Board received reports from the chair of PPAN and chair of PALS. PPAN met on 28th-29th September 2009 and PALS met on 15th-16th September 2009, both in Swindon. Both committees reported on the prioritisation process they had been carrying out, using the decision making criteria they had further developed following the STFC strategy consultation. To enable PPAN and PALS to start prioritising the STFC programme, both committees received completed proformas from each project/facility under consideration and also took into account advice provided by the advisory panels.

PPAN received advice from the Particle Physics Advisory Panel (PPAP), Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel (PAAP), Nuclear Physics Advisory Panel (NPAP), Far Universe Advisory Panel (FUAP) and Near Universe Advisory Panel (NUAP). PPAN also took advice from the draft report of the Ground-Based Facilities Review. PALS received advice from the Neutron Advisory Panel (NAP) and the Photon Advisory Panel (PAP). PPAN and PALS were grateful to the advisory panels for their hard work and effort in preparing their advice and noted the useful input provided by the community to each of the panels.

Science Board reviewed the current balance of STFC’s programme and the budget situation. They developed strategic advice for PPAN and PALS to use when continuing the prioritisation process at their next meetings. Both committees will report back to Science Board at their December meeting, after which Science Board will provide advice to Council on STFC’s programme.

The next meeting of PPAN is scheduled for 30th November – 1st December 2009.

The next meeting of PALS is scheduled for 23rd-24th November 2009.

The next meeting of Science Board is scheduled for 7th-8th December 2009.

 

STFC’s Science Board held its most recent business meeting on 15th – 16th July 2009 at Polaris House in Swindon.

Professor Matt Griffin is stepping down from Science Board and this meeting was his last. Science Board thanked Professor Griffin for his valuable contribution to Science Board over the last two years and wished him continuing success in his role as PI of the SPIRE instrument on the Herschel telescope.

The meeting was also Professor Walter Gear’s final Science Board meeting as he steps down as Chair of PPAN at the end of July 2009. Science Board thanked Professor Gear for his valuable service to PPAN.

STFC Council has recently appointed two new members to the Science Board:

  • Professor Guenther Rosner – University of Glasgow
  • Professor Mike Bode – Liverpool John Moores University

At the July Meeting, Science Board discussed its ongoing work in prioritising future science and technology opportunities and the consultation process that has been put in place to prioritise STFC’s programme for 2010/11 and beyond. It reviewed the current balance of STFC’s programme and the short and medium term budget situation, and discussed the future vision of STFC with the Chief Executive.

Over the past several meetings, Science Board has received a series of presentations on a number of big challenges: environment; energy; healthcare and ageing; and security. Science Board discussed the presentations and considered the implications for STFC’s strategy and how STFC could contribute in these areas. Science Board then received a presentation on STFC’s Futures Programme which is focussed on exploiting STFC’s technological and knowledge capabilities to address the UK’s societal and economic priorities.

Science Board received updates on the New Light Source project, the development of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Large Facilities Roadmap, and the decision timelines for the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array.

Science Board also received reports from the chair of PPAN and chair of PALS.

PPAN met on 30th June – 1st July 2009. PPAN considered two statements of interest: a proposal to position the UK for involvement in a high-energy electron-positron collider; and a proposal to participate in the development of a neutrino experiment at JPARC. PPAN received one report from PPRP regarding the SuperNEMO project; a next generation neutrinoless double beta decay experiment. PPAN also received an interim report from the Particle Physics Grants Panel.

PALS met on 1st – 2nd July 2009 at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France. The Committee toured ILL and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) on the first day of the meeting. Their business included a discussion on facilities priorities and on developing a strategy for the provision of high performance computing infrastructure for research.

At their meetings both PPAN and PALS further refined a decision making framework that will facilitate consistent decision making across the STFC. Both committees also considered future priorities for the RCUK Large Facilities Roadmap.

The next meeting of Science Board will be in October 2009.

 

STFC’s Science Board held its most recent business meeting on 20th-21st May 2009 at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London. Science Board’s business included the ongoing work in prioritising future science and technology opportunities, including a review of the status, prospects and total spend of the various subject areas and types of facilities supported by STFC.

Science Board considered the proposal put forward by STFC Executive to manage the budget issues for 2009-10. With regret, Science Board endorsed the approach that was being proposed, noting that it exploits natural slippages, delays and squeezes in ongoing programmes. As far as possible it avoids closing out options for the highest priority programmes in the future, and allows major strategic decisions to await consultation and inputs from advisory panels and from the review of ground-based astronomy facilities.

Science Board received the annual report from the Science in Society Advisory Panel and discussed STFC’s future public engagement programme. The Board received a presentation and reports on the STFC Economic Impact programme.

Science Board also received reports from the chair of the Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Physics Science Committee (PPAN) and chair of the Physical and Life Sciences Committee (PALS).

Since the last meeting of Science Board, PPAN has met once on 7th-8th May 2009. At their meeting, PPAN considered three statements of interest:

  • a proposal to participate in the upgrade to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLAB) in Virginia, USA;
  • a statement of interest to participate in anti-neutrino running using the MINOS detector at Fermilab;
  • a statement of interest for participation in the completion of Phase 1 of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer

PPAN also re-considered the Virtual Observatory Technology Centre (VOTC) UK statement of interest after requesting further information from the collaboration. PPAN also considered the consultation questions for the Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) and Project Research and Development (PRD) review and provided feedback to the review team.

PALS met on 6th-7th May 2009 at Daresbury and their meeting included a visit to ALICE, a superconducting linear accelerator at Daresbury Laboratory. PALS received an update on the New Light Source (NLS) project and the NLS Town Meeting; and considered the Accelerator Centres Review Report.

At their May meetings, both PPAN and PALS re-considered and re-confirmed the outcomes of the 2007-8 Programmatic Review and identified and prioritised new projects which had arisen since the Review. Both committees also discussed a decision making framework that will facilitate consistent decision making across the STFC.

The next meeting of Science Board will be 15th-16th July 2009.

STFC Council has recently appointed three new members to the Science Board:

  • Professor Tim Wess, Cardiff University
  • Professor Neville Greaves, Aberystwyth University
  • Professor Neville Harnew, University of Oxford

Science Board held their most recent business meeting on 11th-12th March 2009 at Daresbury Laboratory. Science Board’s business included their ongoing work in prioritising future science and technology opportunities, including a review of the status and prospects of the various subject areas and types of facilities supported by STFC. The review will continue through to the next meeting in May.

Science Board received a presentation on health and ageing from Sir Leszek Borysiewicz and Dr Wendy Ewart from the Medical Research Council. Science Board discussed the implications of the presentation for the STFC science and technology strategy and began to identify areas where the MRC and STFC could work together.

Science Board received updates on the development of the Science and Technology Strategy and the Gateway Centres. Whilst at Daresbury, the Board took the opportunity to visit ALICE, a superconducting linear accelerator. During the tour of the facility, the Board were given the opportunity to talk to engineers and scientists about the research and development programme.

Science Board received reports from the chair of PPAN and chair of PALS.

Since the last meeting of Science Board, PPAN has met twice, on 27th-28th January 2009 and 5th-6th March 2009. At their January meeting, PPAN considered two statements of interest: LUX-Zeplin, a direct dark matter detection proposal and LHCb Upgrades at CERN. PPAN received three reports from PPRP regarding the European Extremely Large Telescope (EELT) design study; prepSKA – the design study for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA); and LOFAR – low frequency array. PPAN recommended funding levels within the planning lines for E-ELT and prepSKA. Science Board agreed to discuss long term funding for E-ELT and SKA at a future meeting. PPAN also discussed the outcome of the CLOVER Review Panel and received a presentation on the European Astronet roadmap exercise.

At their March meeting, PPAN considered three statements of interest:

  • NA62 experiment at CERN;
  • UKIRT planet finder instrument; and
  • NG1dF instrument for the Anglo-Australian Telescope

They received a PPRP report on HIELINAC superconducting linear accelerator. PPAN met and had discussions with the Chairs of the new Advisory Panels and the Chair of the Particle Physics Grants Panel. PPAN also received a report on the Review of the Cockcroft and John Adams Accelerator Institutes.

PALS met on 25-26 February 2009 and their meeting included a visit to ISIS and Diamond. The visits to facilities have given PALS the opportunity to continue their engagement with facility directors. PALS received updates on the Facility Research and Development Programme and the Next Generation Facilities Studentships. PALS also discussed the status of the New Light Source and next generation neutron sources. At their last meeting, PALS discussed the Vulcan 10PW upgrade and recommended that the upgrade should be funded. Science Board endorsed the PALS recommendation regarding the Vulcan 10PW Upgrade and also recommended that there should not be any provision for growth in operations costs.

The next meeting of Science Board will be 20th-21st May 2009.

Following the resignation of Professor Peter Knight as Chair of Science Board, Professor Jenny Thomas, Deputy Chair of Science Board, has now taken over as Chair until July 2009. Professor Tony Ryan has been appointed Deputy Chair until July 2009.

Science Board held a joint economic impact workshop with the Economic Impact Advisory Board and Strategy Board on 13th January 2009. The workshop considered the meaning of economic impact, STFC's strategy for economic impact and how to reflect economic impact in the peer review system.

Science Board held their most recent business meeting on 14th- 15th January 2009 at the Grange Rochester Hotel, London. Science Board's business over the two days included a number of items that form part of their ongoing work in setting the long-term science and technology strategy for STFC and prioritising future science and technology opportunities. At their last meeting Science Board charged working groups to look at trends in support and the distribution of activities between construction and exploitation. Following discussion, Science Board agreed to conduct a more detailed review of the status and prospects of the various subject areas and types of facilities that STFC supports. The review will be carried out over the next two meetings taking input from the STFC strategy, science programme and facility directors.

Science Board received two presentations on big issue areas of environment and security, given by Professor Bob Watson (Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra) and Dr Bryn Hughes (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) respectively. Science Board discussed the implications of each presentation for the STFC science and technology strategy.

Science Board received a presentation updating them on the knowledge exchange and economic impact programme within STFC.

Science Board considered the draft terms of reference for the proposed facility boards.

Science Board discussed how to take forward a proposed UK vision for accelerators. It was decided to hold an STFC organised one to two day workshop to bring together all interested parties and define a path forward.

Science Board agreed a recommendation for the expenditure of the extra £9m identified in October 2008 for research grants funding and this will be considered by STFC.

Science Board received reports from the deputy chair of PPAN and chair of PALS.

Since the last meeting of Science Board, PPAN has met once, on 27-28 November 2008. PPAN considered a number of statements of interest:

  • participation in the Cherenkov Telescope Array;
  • ATLAS upgrades
  • Virtual Observatory Technology Centre UK

PPAN received a report from the astronomy grants panel and reports from PPRP on the Cosmic Vision proposals. At their next meeting on 27-28 January 2009 PPAN will be reviewing their work of the past year.

PALS met on 2-3 December 2008. The main business for the meeting concerned the review panel report on the Vulcan 10PW Upgrade. PALS fully endorsed the review panel's recommendation that the Vulcan Upgrade should be funded through the FRD scheme. Science Board will consider the PALS recommendation at their meeting in March 2009. PALS also received a presentation on the development of the Science and Innovation Campuses.

Last updated: 17 March 2017

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