The Public Engagement Early-Career Forum

The STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum supports talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career to develop their public engagement and outreach goals.

This is to ensure the next generation of STFC scientists and engineers continue to deliver the highest quality of purposeful, audience-driven public engagement.

Dawn Geatches

Hello, I'm Dawn Geatches, a Project Scientist in the Computational Chemistry Group of the Scientific Computing Department of STFC, Daresbury Laboratory (Cheshire). My research is quantum mechanics applied to materials, and I work with university and industry partners exploring the fundamental properties and behaviour of materials in different environments. My PE work includes volunteering at STFC Open Days, giving a talk to the general public, mentoring and supervising work experience students. I enjoy it because I can be enthusiastic about science, encourage the same spark of scientific curiosity in others and of course, it's really good fun!

Dawn Geatches

(Credit: STFC)


Greg Corbett

Greg is a Software Engineer in STFC Scientific Computing Department and holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science. He is a STEM Ambassador and published author in academic science journals. When not writing code or engaging the public, he enjoys playing board games, watching bad movies and drinking real ale.

Greg Corbett

(Credit: G Corbett)


Josie Rawes

Josie currently works as a Teaching Associate in the School of Physics at the University of Bristol. Prior to this, she helped to coordinate a mobile outreach project called ‘Lab in a Lorry’. This project toured schools in Wales aiming to promote physics and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Josie Rawes

(Credit: J Rawes)


Kristin Lohwasser

Kristin Lohwasser is a researcher at the University of Sheffield, investigating fundamental particles and their interactions at the ATLAS experiment in CERN, Geneva. She completed her physics degree at Dortmund University and also finished a degree in journalism, including a one-year internship at a newspaper. After her undergraduate, she completed a DPhil at Oxford and worked as post-doc at Freiburg University and at DESY.

Kristin Lohwasser

(Credit: Susann Niedworok, DESY)


Laura Kent

Following a PhD in materials chemistry at the University of Surrey, Laura joined the electronics and magnetic materials group at NPL. Laura has been involved in numerous public engagement events including developing science engagement activities for primary schools and introducing the three minute thesis competition to the University’s postgraduate conference.

Laura Kent

(Credit: L Kent)


Martin Black

My name is Martin Black. I completed my undergraduate degree in Astronomy and Physics at the University of Glasgow. Having enjoyed my optical and practical courses, I decided to transition into engineering. I applied to join STFC, at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, as an Optical Engineer. Since then I've worked on about 10 different project for astronomy, medical imaging, and Earth observation.

Martin Black

(Credit: M Black)


Sally Cooper

Sally is a Research Associate at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester. Her research is on searching for pulsars using the next generation of radio telescopes, like the Square Kilometre Array. Part of Sally's research is to learn how to train computers to help identify pulsars using machine learning techniques.

Sally Cooper

(Credit: RADA Big Data)


Sabrina Gaertner

Sabrina’s background lies in laboratory astrophysics and astrochemistry, in particular studying gas-phase ion chemistry in star forming regions. Now she is an Instrument Scientist at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source focussing on the structure of water ice, and uses many outreach opportunities to promote what I consider to be interesting science!

Sabrina Gaertner

(Credit: STFC)


William Taylor

Willian has been based at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh for the last ten years. Starting with his PhD through the University of Edinburgh and then literally moving down the corridor to join STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre. He now works as a Project Scientist: splitting his time between research into Massive Stars and more technical work to help build new instruments for telescopes.

William Taylor

(Credit: W Taylor)


William Trickey

William Trickey is a PhD student at the University of York. His research involves the study of extreme shocks in plasmas with application in fusion energy. Will helps with a variety outreach projects at the University of York including the creation of a fusion podcast called: A glass of seawater.

William Trickey

(Credit: W Trickey)


STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum

The 2019 call for applications to the Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum will open on the 1st April and close at 16:00 on Monday 3 June 2019.

Introduction and context

Daresbury Engineering Open House Day

(Credit: University of Birmingham)

The STFC community has a long tradition of undertaking public engagement across the length and breadth of the UK: engagement that we know has a profound effect on our audiences. A significant proportion of STFC’s engagement is designed and delivered by scientists and engineers near the start of their career, who are working hard to balance the demands of establishing their careers alongside their passion for leading high quality public engagement and outreach.

We know that this is a real challenge: people can feel left without support, can struggle to keep abreast of current good practice, find themselves unable to make the time to plan new engagement and outreach to their satisfaction, or have no-one in their immediate peer group that shares their belief in the importance of engagement. It’s important to us that we help to change that situation. For further insight into the prevailing attitudes towards engagement in the STFC community, please see our 2016 report, Public Engagement: Attitudes, Culture and Ethos.

The STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum (the ‘PEER Forum’) will support talented scientists and engineers in the early stages of their career to develop their public engagement and outreach goals, to ensure the next generation of STFC scientists and engineers continue to deliver the highest quality of purposeful, audience-driven public engagement.

PEER Forum aims

  • To foster peer learning and peer support between early career scientists and engineers with a passion for public engagement and outreach.
  • To improve understanding of the support STFC provides for public engagement and outreach (including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting) and how to successfully utilise this support.
  • To stimulate discussions that help to develop and influence STFC’s approaches to public engagement.

1.0 Overview


Participants in the PEER Forum will meet face-to-face at least twice per year to share learning and to participate in session that will strengthen the depth and breadth of their understanding of public engagement and outreach.

It is STFC’s intent that the Forum evolves to shape its own agenda and activities over time, becoming driven by the needs of the Forum members as much as it is driven by STFC. Forum members will be encouraged to identify items of discussion, peer learning and training, and invited speakers to form the content of Forum meetings. Forum members will also have the opportunity to provide relevant insight and feedback to STFC from their local departments and/or engagement communities.


The PEER Forum is for practising early-career scientists and engineers who have an ambition to carry out excellent public engagement alongside, and complimentary to, their career in science or engineering. We are seeking Forum members from across the breadth of STFC’s pure and applied science and technology remit.

The specific personal requirements of PEER Forum membership are that members:

  • Have completed their highest level of academic qualification within the last ten years (not including any career breaks)
  • Are employed at a Higher Education Institute, or a research-intensive Public Sector Research Organisation or Research Laboratory (including STFC’s own national laboratories)
  • Work within a science and technology field in STFC’s remit, or with a strong inter-disciplinary connection to STFC’s remit, or use an STFC facility to enable their own research
  • Demonstrate a highly credible track record of experience in their field, corresponding to the length of their career to date
  • Demonstrate a highly credible track record of leading and delivering public engagement or outreach
  • Are keen communicators with a willingness to contribute to the success of a UK-wide network

STFC is committed to a policy of equal opportunities, and appointments to the PEER Forum will be made on merit. We are keen to see diversity in the membership of the PEER Forum, reflected in the gender, race, and other protected characteristics of the Forum members. Gender diversity is particularly important at this point in time, and STFC has set a target for a minimum of 30% female representation on our boards, committees and networks: the PEER Forum has adopted this target. We will use diversity of membership as part of our selection criteria.


Appointments to the PEER Forum will be for an initial period of two years, beginning in September 2019. STFC may consider extension of membership for one additional year by mutual agreement, on a case by-case basis.

Forum members must be willing to actively participate, and contribute to, the Forum’s activities on a regular basis. It is expected that this participation will amount to 4-6 days of activity per year.

STFC will reimburse travel and subsistence expenses associated with attendance at Forum meetings in line with our normal policies and procedures.


2.0 How to apply


Application to the PEER Forum is a single-stage process. An applicant must submit a total of three short documents as follows:

  1. A short, tailored CV that outlines the applicant’s relevant qualifications, experience, and track record to date. This must be no longer than one side of A4.
  2. A letter of support from an applicant’s line manager, Head of Department or equivalent. This letter must outline the line manager’s support for application, confirm that the applicant will be supported to participate in the PEER Forum, and empower the applicant to disseminate their learning from the Forum within their institution.. This letter must be no longer than two sides of A4.
  3. A document, no longer than two sides of A4, that provides responses to the following five assessment questions:
    • What is your motivation for applying to the join the PEER Forum?
    • What is your thinking process when developing effective public engagement or outreach based on your field of work?
    • How do you evaluate your public engagement and how have you implemented learning from that evaluation to influence subsequent activities?
    • How have you enabled your peers and colleagues to participate in public engagement, and/or improve the culture of public engagement in your institution/department?
    • How would describe one specific challenging concept from your work to an eleven year old child?

Applications that do not conform to the specified page limits, or do not contain all three required documents, will not be considered for Forum membership.

All applications must be sent by email to by no later than 16:00 on Monday 3 June 2019. Applications should be clearly marked in the email title as, ‘Application for STFC PEER Forum: [Applicant Name]’.


All applications will be assessed by an independent peer review panel, who will make recommendations on membership to STFC. The panel will use the following assessment criteria to arrive at their recommendations:

  • Does the applicant meet the specific personal requirements for PEER Forum members?
  • Taking into account the length of their career to date, has the applicant demonstrated a highly credible track record of experience in:
    1. Undertaking research in a contemporary topic within their field?
    2. Leading and delivering public engagement or outreach?
  • Has the applicant effectively communicated their enthusiasm for doing public engagement/outreach and their motivation for joining the network?
  • Has the applicant shown how they plan and/or generate new ideas for effective public engagement/outreach based on their work?
  • Has the applicant demonstrated how they have used evaluation of past public engagement activities to influence subsequent work?
  • Has the applicant detailed how they have helped to build the capacity for public engagement and outreach within their institution or department? (For example, have they helped embed public engagement within their institution, make the culture more supportive towards engagement, or demonstrably acted as a role model for good engagement?)
  • Has the applicant described and contextualised a concept from their specific work and demonstrated its importance in such a way that an eleven year old child could understand?
  • Is the application accompanied by a strong letter of support from the applicant’s line manager?

From applicants demonstrated to meet the criteria listed above, STFC aim to ensure Forum membership diversity across protected characteristics, institutions, and research disciplines. Particular attention will be paid to the gender diversity of Forum membership.

The decision of STFC in making invitations to join the PEER Forum is final.

w/c 1 April 2019 Call for PEER Forum membership opens
3 June 2019 Deadline for applications
w/c 1 July 2019 Assessment panel meeting
w/c 29 July 2019 Applicants informed of STFC decisions
mid-September 2019 First meeting of the PEER Forum attended by new members

3.0 Contacts

All enquiries about the STFC Public Engagement Early-Career Researcher Forum should be directed initially to


Download PDF

You can download the contents of this page as a PDF:

PEER Forum - call document (PDF, 104 KB)

PEER Forum - equality impact assessment (PDF, 128 KB)

Last updated: 21 March 2019


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