Physical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team meeting September 2016

Agenda and meeting notes for the meeting of Physical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team, held on 22 September 2016.

Jury's Inn, Swindon

Time Item Paper
10.00-10.30 General Theme Update from John  
10.30-12.00 SAT feedback on action categories and strategic focus. Minutes to form official record. Rationales
12.00-12.15 Coffee
12.15-12.30 SAT Feedback on LIPS Meeting Agenda and Objectives Draft agenda
12.30-13.00 Balancing post-January engagement plans No paper
13.00-13.45 Lunch

Open Fellowship Area Discussion

  • How should open fellowship areas be chosen
15.45-16.00 Coffee

Student/post-doc balance at RA level

  • Difference in outputs of PhDs and PDRAs at discipline level
  • The role of studentships and postdocs as a source of skilled people and the onward career structures (discipline level variations)
  • The role of students and of postdocs in a research lab/research community (discipline level variations)

Strategic Advisory Team
Summary of Physical Sciences meeting notes and discussion items: 26 September 2016
EPSRC, Polaris House, Swindon


Members: Prof Neil Alford (Chair) Imperial College London
  Prof Sonia Contera University of Oxford
  Prof Rasmita Raval University of Liverpool
  Dr Steven Harris BAE Systems
  Prof Chris Marrows University of Leeds
  Mr Martin O’Brien Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
  Prof Cameron Alexander University of Nottingham
  Prof Michael Hannon University of Birmingham
  Prof Graham Machin National Physical Laboratory
  Prof Adrian Mulholland University of Bristol
  Prof Richard Winpenny University of Manchester
Representing Capital Equipment SAT: Prof David Bird University of Bath
Representing E‑Infrastructure SAT: Prof Roy Johnston University of Bristol
EPSRC Staff: John Hand Physical Sciences Theme Lead
  Christina Turner Senior Portfolio Manager
  David Bowkett Portfolio Manager
  James Dracott Portfolio Manager
  Eleanor Jaskowska Portfolio Manager
  Sally Birse Portfolio Manager
  Maggie Wilson Building Leadership Theme Lead
Apologies: Prof Miles Padgett University of Glasgow
  Dr Alan Brown Stratified Medical
  Prof Geoff Rodgers Brunel University
  Ms Isabella Van Damme Mars Chocolate UK
  Dr William Whittingham Syngenta Ltd.


The meeting was opened by John Hand on progress towards UKRI, opportunities related to the Global Challenges Research Fund, and the single panel. David Bird provided an update on issues discussed at the recent Capital Equipment SAT.

1. Balancing Capability

SAT members were provided with the current drafts of the Physical Sciences Balancing Capability rationales and a selection of rationales for research area managed by other themes in advance of the meeting. David Bird and Roy Johnston provided general comments on the how capital equipment e-infrastructure needs could be better addressed in the rationales, and the SAT provided feedback on how the rationales for non-Physical Sciences could better demonstrate links to Physical Science research areas.

The SAT expressed general satisfaction with the rationales for Physical Sciences research areas but raised a few specific concerns for a small number of research areas.

2. Feedback on Plans for Large Investments in Physical Sciences meeting

The SAT provided feedback on the draft plans for the Large Investments and Physical Sciences meeting. The SAT made suggestions about how the event was advertised, how to ensure that information presented on the day is made available to those not invited, and how to balance the schedule to ensure delegates find both days interesting and enjoyable.

3. Feedback on plans for Balancing Capability engagement strategy

The session began with a presentation on the planned engagement strategy for after the publication of the Balancing Capability strategies. The SAT noted that it was a very traditional communications strategy and missed out on opportunities afforded by new media. The SAT advices engaging with research offices as well as academics.

4. Open Fellowship Area

A discussion was held on how open fellowship areas should be chosen. It was decided that a sub-group should be formed to discuss this issue further.

5. Balance of Studentships and Post-Doctoral Researcher Positions

The SAT was asked to comment on the role of PhDs and PDRAS within the research landscape and the skills pipeline and how this differed across disciplines. Having examined the data presented to them the SAT did not have any concerns with the current ratio of PhDs to PDRAs within the physical sciences community.

6. AOB

John Hand thanked Neil Alford for his service as SAT chair and announced that Cameron Alexander would be taking over as chair at the next meeting.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 21-22 February 2017.