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News from Science Board - 2011

Science Board met on 10th-11th November 2011 at Polaris House, Swindon. Its business included:

  • reports from the Advisory Panel for Science in Society, the Futures Advisory Panel, the Accelerator Strategy Board and the Astronomy Grants Panel;
  • proposals for the continued operation of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING), James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) and UK Infra-Red Telescope (UKIRT);
  • an update on the process of updating the RCUK Large Facilities Roadmap;
  • a report regarding the recent consultation on a revised advisory panel structure; and
  • a report from the UK Space Agency regarding preparations for the next European Space Agency Ministerial meeting

Science Board received a report from the Advisory Panel for Science in Society (APSiS). The Board welcomed the report and noted the planned ‘direction of travel’ for the STFC public engagement programme.

Science Board received a report from the Futures Advisory Panel, which had held its first meeting on 8th-9th November 2011. The Board noted the promising start by the panel and was encouraged to see that the Futures Theme Leaders had taken into account the Environment and Healthcare and Ageing Reviews carried out by the Physical and Life Sciences Committee.

The Accelerator Strategy Board provided a report on the recent review of four accelerator proposals.

The proposals were:

  • for continued funding of the John Adams Institute;
  • completion of the Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment (MICE);
  • continuation of work on the Front End Test Stand (FETS) and generic R&D for Target Studies.

Science Board endorsed the recommendations of the Accelerator Strategy Board on the future funding levels for these projects.

Science Board received a report presented by the chair of the Astronomy Grants Panel (AGP) regarding the recent grants round. Science Board noted that the proposals were of a very high standard and regretted the fact that due to the limited funds available, a considerable amount of research that is competitive with the best in the world could not be supported. Science Board thanked the AGP for their hard work in reviewing the proposals and endorsed the recommendations made by the AGP.

Science Board was updated on the current status of operations of the ING, JCMT and UKIRT and proposals for the future operation of these facilities. The Board welcomed the successful completion of SCUBA-2 on the JCMT and the start of science. Science Board noted the timescales for decisions to be made regarding operation of, and the STFC role in, the ING, JCMT and UKIRT and agreed that the proposals needed more detailed consideration.

The Board therefore agreed to set up a sub-group (consisting of core and non-core Science Board members) to review options for the future of these facilities and report in April 2012.

Science Board discussed the responses to the recent consultation regarding the advisory panel structure. Taking into account the feedback from the consultation, Science Board discussed and agreed a proposal for a revised advisory structure. The proposal was considered and approved by STFC Council at its meeting on 22 November.

A paper was presented by the UK Space Agency regarding preparations for the next European Space Agency (ESA) Council of Ministers. Science Board discussed the paper and gave advice on the priority that STFC would place on UK participation in ESA optional programmes, given the implications for possible STFC funding of scientific exploitation through future grants rounds.

The next meeting of Science Board will take place on 9th-10th February 2012 at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

STFC's Science Board held its most recent meeting on the 12th and 13th October 2011 at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell.

Science Board’s business included:

  • updates on the European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and Square Kilometre Array (SKA) projects;
  • a report from the Review of STFC’s Particle Physics Department;
  • an update from the Particle Physics Astronomy and Nuclear Physics Science Committee (PPAN) on a balance of programme exercise undertaken;
  • a presentation on the big science opportunities that are available in the future;
  • a presentation on the Environment Review that was undertaken by the STFC Physical and Life Sciences Committee (PALS);
  • a tour of the Diamond Light Source.

Science Board received a presentation which outlined the current status of the E-ELT project. Science Board re-endorsed the scientific and strategic priority of E-ELT within the STFC science programme.

Science Board received an update on the SKA project. Science Board noted the status of SKA and endorsed the current planning for the UK’s role in the transition to the next phase of the project.

Science Board received an update on the recent review of the Particle Physics Department (PPD) at RAL. Science Board noted the report and was informed of the recommendations made by the panel and how these are being implemented by STFC.

A paper was presented outlining the light-touch balance of programme work that had been undertaken. PPAN had recognised the current lack of breadth in the programme and provided strategic advice to the STFC grants panels to try and address this situation. Science Board discussed the paper and endorsed the outcome of this exercise.

A presentation was given outlining the future big opportunities in STFC science. Science Board noted the range of the forthcoming opportunities on which they may be required to offer strategic guidance at future meetings.

A presentation was given outlining the findings and recommendations of the Environment Review that had been carried out by PALS. Science Board congratulated PALS on the excellent review and highlighted the importance of such reviews.

The Environment Review Report highlighted the extensive research relevant to environmental challenges that is already being carried out with STFC facilities, and identified a number of specific short-term and long-term recommendations for further enhancing STFC’s impact in this area. Science Board endorsed the Review Report and will commend it to Council for their endorsement.

Science Board was given a tour of the Diamond Light Source. The members of Science Board were taken to see a range of different beamlines that operate at Diamond. Science Board found the visit both enjoyable and informative. Science Board thanked those at the Diamond Light Source campus for organising the tour.

Science Board received a presentation on the Innovations Technology Access Centre which provided an overview of the ongoing work relating to the ITAC model. Science Board noted the excellent way in which STFC facilities were being used within this model to deliver impact.

The next meeting of the Science Board will take place on the 10th and 11th of November 2011 at Polaris House, Swindon.

STFC's Science Board held its most recent meeting on 8th September 2011 at University College London. This was the first meeting of the revised Science Board.

This meeting was an opportunity for members to introduce themselves, their research backgrounds and areas of scientific expertise to the rest of the Board and to discuss working methodologies and the future work programme.

Science Board discussed its revised Terms of Reference and considered a number of working methodologies. The relative benefits and disadvantages of each option were considered. It was agreed that Science Board core membership would consider all items of business, drawing on additional expertise from non-core members as needed. It noted that there may be occasions when time-limited sub-groups are needed, but that no standing sub-committees were required at present.

Science Board also considered the most effective methods of interacting with its reporting panels and committees, discussed its future work programme, and highlighted some items that it would like to consider at future meetings.

Science Board received a report on STFC UKSA Dual Key system, and noted that the system had worked well for the first round of Fellowships, Studentships and Astronomy grants.

The next meeting of Science Board will take place on 12 -13 October 2011.

STFC’s Science Board held its most recent meeting on the 29th June 2011 at the Medical Research Council, London. Science Board’s business included the PPAN (Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Physics) and PALS (Physical and Life Sciences) update reports, discussions about the developing laser and technology strategies and the PALS healthcare review.

Science Board discussed the developing STFC Technology Strategy. Science Board endorsed the strategy framework and commented that technology was essential to underpinning STFC’s science and central to its future. Science Board welcomed the development of this strategy and encouraged STFC to continue to develop the detailed implementation of the strategy.

The Director, Central Laser Facility (CLF), presented the laser strategy to Science Board. Science Board noted the high alpha ranking of the Vulcan 10 PW upgrade and the strategy to maintain technology, skills and expertise until such a time that it could be built.

The PALS Deputy Chair presented the report of the Healthcare Review undertaken by PALS. Science Board congratulated PALS on the excellent report and highlighted the importance of such reviews. The Healthcare Review report contains a number of specific long-term and short-term recommendations for enhancing STFC’s impact in this area. In consultation with the Executive, it was agreed that an action plan would be developed and presented to Science Board and its next meeting.

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

PALS met on 7th – 8th June 2011 at Polaris House, Swindon. PALS’ main business included the conclusion of the Environment Review, a discussion on how to encourage greater collaboration between industry and facility users and staff, an update on the Facility Funding Model recommendations and discussions on the STFC laser and technology strategies.

PPAN met on 15th – 16th June 2011 at Polaris House, Swindon. Agenda items included the grant review reports from NPGP (Nuclear Physics Grants Panel) and PPGP (Particle Physics Grants Panel) (Theory), five Statements of Interest, strategic guidance on the current PRD (Project Research and Development) proposals, the funding level of operations for Advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometric Gravitational wave Observatory) and whether STFC should pursue Associate Member Status in the FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) facility.

PPAN also provided strategic advice to UKSA (UK Space Agency) on funding scenarios for Planck Post Launch Support. PPAN discussed the STFC Technology Strategy and completed discussing the Balance of Programme (from February) which included drafting guidance for grant panels.

PPAN finalised the decisions arising from the PPAN sub-panel which had assessed eight proposals relating to investment in new ground-based astronomy instrumentation in April. PPAN also noted an information paper prepared by the Computing Advisory Panel relating to STFC HPC (High Performance Computing) requirements looking towards future provision of HPC facilities.

Science Board was presented with the outcome of the discussions of the Council working party looking at the advisory structure. Science Board’s comments will be presented at the forthcoming Council meeting.

The next meeting of Science Board will take place on 12th - 13th October 2011.

STFC's Science Board held its most recent meeting on 29th March 2011 at University College London. Science Board's business included a discussion on the Campus Centres initiative, the development of STFC's laser strategy, and updates from PPAN, PALS and the Accelerator Strategy Board (ASB).

Science Board received a report from STFC Executive describing the purpose, process and status of establishing the STFC Campus Centres of Expertise. These Centres are intended to become portals for close collaboration between Research Council facilities, academia, and industry. Twelve potential Centres have been identified and a process has been set up to assess the options and select which Centres should be progressed. This process includes reviews by a Strategic Project Review Board, the Economic Impact Advisory Board and the STFC Executive Board. Science Board agreed that a scientific review should also be incorporated to ensure that the Centres can benefit from, and provide benefits to, the academic community and the science programme.

Science Board received a presentation about the overall direction of the developing strategy for the laser programme at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. An integrated strategy with respect to lasers is being developed to align optimally all significant projects and support technology development for future initiatives. Science Board discussed the presentation and provided comments to be considered by Council and the Director of the Central Laser Facility.

Science Board received an update from the Chair of ASB, which had met on 4th March 2011 to agree upon the principles of the draft Accelerator Strategy and identify the steps required to develop the Accelerator Roadmap. ASB also considered two Statements of Interest (SoIs), one from the John Adams Institute, and the other regarding R&D for future high power proton-accelerator based facilities. These SoIs were also reviewed at PPAN and PALS which provided advice to ASB.

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

PPAN met on 23th & 24th February 2011. PPAN's main business was a discussion on the balance of the PPAN science programme in order to try and redress the lack of breadth in the current programme. Other major topics included: a discussion and recommendation based on of the Project Peer Review Panel (PPRP) report regarding support for UK participation in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT); an update relating to UK participation in SuperB and NA62; and the potential establishment of a Virtual Institute for Particle Astrophysics. PPAN also considered a SoI for the Scientific and Strategic Exploitation of the UK's Investment in Large Radio Dishes. PPAN noted that the UK astronomy community wishes to contribute to a range of spectroscopic instrument opportunities proposed for ESO and non-ESO facilities, and established a sub-group, including ad hoc members with appropriate expertise, to consider these SOIs on 14th April 2011. PPAN received an update on the practicalities of the STFC-UKSA dual key system for the support of space science exploitation. Science Board requested some further clarifications from STFC Executive concerning the division of responsibility for funding space science projects and related R&D between UKSA and STFC.

PALS met on 1st March 2011. The main business was to carry out the first stages of a review of environment related science and research relevant to STFC and consider the impact that STFC does and could have in the environmental science area. PALS is carrying out science area reviews as part of a process to provide advice for the further development of STFC's science strategy in the physical and life sciences using a science driven approach. The Environment Review will be the second review that PALS carry out, and was chosen to build upon a workshop already carried out by the Futures Environment Programme on 11-12 November 2010. It is expected that PALS will submit a report to the October 2011 meeting of Science Board.

The next meeting of Science Board will take place on 29 - 30 June 2011.

The STFC Delivery Plan (PDF - 749kB - link opens in a new window) was published on 20th December 2010. Between now and the start of the fiscal year on April 1, the STFC Executive will develop an implementation plan to translate the commitments in the Delivery Plan into an Operations Plan for 2011/12. To aid construction of this plan advice was requested from the STFC science committees (Science Board, PPAN and PALS) in a number of areas.

PALS and PPAN conducted their business on 10th January 2011 and 12th January 2011 respectively, at University College London. The majority of the meetings were devoted to the advice required for the implementation of the Delivery Plan. The STFC Executive provided several open questions for discussion by PPAN and PALS and the outcome of these discussions were provided to Science Board. Other business conducted by PALS included an update of the Healthcare and Ageing Review and future science reviews that PALS will undertake. PPAN also received the Astronomy Grants Panel’s report on the 2010-11 grants round, and provided advice on the proposed transfer of one of the three Advanced LIGO detectors from Hanford to Australia.

STFC’s Science Board then met on 13th January 2011 at University College London. Science Board also devoted the majority of its business to a discussion on the scientific advice required for the implementation of the Delivery Plan. Science Board noted the excellent work done by Council and the Executive in producing the STFC Delivery Plan. Science Board acknowledged the relatively good outcome from the spending review in the current economic climate and recognised Government’s support for science and technology. Science Board discussed the comments and recommendations given from PPAN and PALS and agreed with their views; from this Science Board synthesised advice to aid Council.

Science Board also received an update on a light touch review of STFC’s Scientific Advisory Structure and was invited to comment on proposed changes to the structure. Science Board was supportive of the need for change especially given the reductions in STFC’s administration budget and provided advice to ensure the most appropriate advisory structure will be created.

The next meeting of Science Board will take place on 29th and 30th March 2011.

Last updated: 17 March 2017


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