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Newton Fund: UK-Thailand STFC-NARIT Call and Workshop 2019


Following two successful joint calls, National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) and STFC are happy to announce the third collaboration to promote new partnerships in Capacity Building in Software and Hardware Infrastructures, and Data Handling through Astronomy. The two previous STFC-NARIT calls funded through the Newton Fund have supported projects that focus on instrumentation development, giving opportunities to Thai researchers, engineers and technicians to develop much-needed skills and work closely with UK counterparts. This third call will welcome both the extension of previously funded projects as well as new projects that will build on the capabilities that both countries have in astronomy.

Key dates
Call guidance available 30 August 2019
Workshop registration deadline  17 September 2019
Participants finalised 01 October 2019
Call open 01 October 2019
Workshop 21-23 October 2019
Call close 05 December 2019
Panel selection Mid December 2019
Panel meeting 17 March 2020
Project start March/April 2020

Workshop registration is now closed.

This call is supported by a workshop in the UK which will promote networking between UK and Thai researchers.  Please note that it is not necessary to attend the workshop in order to submit a proposal to the call.

The themes for the call are in line with and in support of the Thailand 4.0 economic model[1]

  1. Astronomical Instrumentation
    Thailand is currently focusing on astronomical instrumentation development as it is crucial for the country to be self-reliant and sustainable on technology development. In the past decade, there has been an increasing demand for astronomical instrumentation in the country, particularly in the fields of optical and radio astronomy. Given that Thailand relies heavily on the importation of technologies, the country is on the verge of losing its competitiveness in technology development in the global arena if this trend persists. Making technology development within the country more relevant and accessible is crucial to enabling innovation and helping to create a knowledge-based society.
  2. Big Data Analytics
    Big Data Analytics is significant in modern-day astronomy as now it is possible to work with massive data volumes (terabytes to exabytes).  Extremely large data volumes pose major challenges for how astronomers work nowadays as these data require much-sought-after knowledge and tools for capture, cleaning, curation, integration, storage, processing, indexing, search, sharing, transferring, mining analysis and visualisation. Traditional tools have become obsolete to tackle the volume of data, whilst new technologies require a skilled workforce who are capable of managing and manipulating this scale of data to good use.
    NARIT has set up its high performance computing cluster called Chalawan in recent years, which is one of the fastest clusters in the country. However, with a growing demand for Big Data Analytics and its applications in Thailand, the challenges of capacity building and knowledge transfer need to be met with appropriate development programmes and facilities to empower the growing workforce in Big Data Analytics in Thailand.
  3. Outreach to Support STEM Education Programmes
    Currently, there is a shortfall of STEM skills in the workforce in Thailand at a time when the government is encouraging the younger generation to pursue STEM education as one of the measures towards Thailand 4.0 economy. More students in STEM education leads to a larger STEM workforce and a more productive economy. Astronomy can play a vital role in supporting STEM education programmes; Thailand is keen to work with the UK to share experiences and develop programmes that support STEM education that will benefit Thailand in the longer term.

Panel assessment

Prof. Mark Wyatt – University of Cambridge (Chair)

Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthornthum – NARIT (Chair)

Prof. John Richer – University of Cambridge

Dr. Saroj Rujirawat – Suranaree University of Technology

Prof. Robert Thomson – Heriot-Watt University

Prof. Sukit Limpijumnong – Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology

Dr. Robert Massey – Royal Astronomical Society

Dr. Surasak Watanes – Graduate College of Chiang Mai University

The Call

The joint STFC-NARIT Newton Fund call for promoting astronomical research will be live by 08:00 BST on Tuesday, 01 October 2019. Proposals based on the priority themes mentioned above are invited for this call. Both, an extension of previously funded projects and new projects are welcome. Please note that attending the workshop is not a necessary criterion for submitting a proposal to this call. List of workshop participants, from UK and Thailand, along with their areas of interest will be published online (in compliance with GDPR) to assist collaboration between attending and non-attending applicants.

Deadline for submitting completed proposals is 16:00 GMT on Thursday, 5 December 2019. We welcome proposals where the project will start before April 2020.

The Workshop

The workshop will take place at the Higgs Centre for Innovation, Edinburgh from 21 – 23 Oct, 2019. Please find details of the workshop including eligibility and registration on Eventbrite. Deadline for registering to attend the workshop is 16:00 BST on Tuesday, 17 September 2019. Selected participants will be informed by 16:00 BST on Tuesday, 01 October 2019.

Names and research interests of workshop attendees from both UK and Thailand have been published according to GDPR rules. Please find this in the “Documents” section below. Participants from the two countries are listed on separate sheets of the Workbook.

Workshop presentations



For queries and further information please contact STFCNewtonFund@stfc.ukri.org


There are four objectives of Thailand 4.0:

  1. Economic Prosperity: to create a value-based economy that is driven by innovation, technology and creativity.
  2. Social Well-being: to create a society that moves forward without leaving anyone behind (inclusive society) through realisation of the full potential of all members of society.
  3. Raising Human Values: to transform Thais into “Competent human beings in the 21st Century” and “Thais 4.0 in the first world”. Measures under Thailand 4.0 includes ensuring that at least 5 Thai universities are ranked amongst the world’s top 100 higher education institution within 20 years.
  4. Environmental Protection: to become a liveable society that possesses an economic system capable of adjusting to climate change and low carbon society.

Last updated: 20 February 2020


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