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Rutherford International Fellowship Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RIFP (Rutherford International Fellowship Programme)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2020-12-31

The Rutherford International Fellowship Programme (RIFP) is a programme of post-doctoral placements. It enables high-quality researchers to develop their careers within Europe, contributes significantly to researcher training and development, and to employment conditions of post-doctoral researchers, and increases the research reputations and outputs of host departments and the STFC as a whole.

The overall objectives for the scheme were:
- to employ up to 36 2-year post-doctoral Fellows across the facilities and departments of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Diamond Light Source.
- to recruit these Fellows through three annual calls.
- to provide the Fellows employed with excellent research opportunities and supervision; technical and scientific training opportunities; wider transferable skills training; and public engagement training.

The overall aim was to develop the skills and career prospects of the next generation of science researchers, to improve the international mobility of researchers and to provide excellent research staff for STFC departments. This has significant benefits for the individual Fellows, for the host departments, and for wider society which benefits through a new cohort of well-trained science researchers who can use their skills to tackle societal problems.

Rutherford International Fellowships are based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, the Daresbury Laboratory, UK, or the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, UK. An extremely wide variety of science and technology areas have been available to the Fellowship Programme including the following departments: the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source; the Diamond Light Source; the Central Laser Facility; RAL Particle Physics Dept.; RAL Space; Scientific Computing Dept.; the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre; the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

The 5-year Programme began in July 2015 and consisted of three calls for Fellows in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A total of 117 applications were received, 24 of which (21%) were women. A total of 35 Fellows were appointed, with 10 of these (29%) being women. The 35 Fellows had 15 different nationalities between them, and came from 18 different countries around the world including 4 UK nationals who returned to the UK after time overseas.

A very wide variety of research areas are undertaken by STFC departments where Fellowships could be held. The broad areas of research of Fellows employed during the programme included astronomy and astrophysics; high energy particle physics; accelerator technology development; fundamental and applied materials studies using neutrons, muons or x-rays; earth observation for climate studies; satellite technology; and laser technology development. During their Fellowships, the researchers produce between them 185 published journal articles and 48 conference posters, and had delivered over 130 talks.

Training activities for Fellows were strongly supported. This included scientific and technical training, as well as a wide variety of transferable skills training including general courses offered by STFC together with specific courses and events for RIFP Fellows. Between them, Fellows attended 196 technical or scientific training events including conferences and workshops, and received 125 transferable skills and other training activities. Fellows were strongly encouraged to engage in public engagement activities including events for the general public and schools, and were involved in a total of over 75 such activities between them.

The research and training opportunities afforded by an RIFP Fellowship meant that Fellows' career prospects were enhanced, and this is shown by the posts that they were able to obtain following their Fellowships. 16 Fellows have gone on to permanent positions at universities, facilities or companies, and 18 have found fixed-term positions as post-doctoral workers or have won grant support to carry on their research.
The RIFP Programme was entirely bottom-up, i.e. applicants submitted a science proposal for the work they wanted to carry out. Applications were given ethical scrutiny to ensure they fell within the boundaries of the Horizon 2020 programme. Applications were reviewed through a rigorous and transparent selection procedure - a refereeing process followed by interview.

Fellowships offered an excellent environment for researchers to pursue their projects. STFC facilities and departments are world-class research organisations, offering high-quality infrastructure and collaborating internationally with key groups and individuals around the world. This gave the RIFP researchers good opportunities to develop their scientific and technical careers, to publish journal articles, attend national and international conferences, and develop collaborations within STFC and more widely with academic or industrial groups in the UK and beyond.

Each Fellow had a supervisor who met with them regularly and who helped with their career development and their project progression. Each Fellow was also part of an annual appraisal scheme, enabling them to plan their projects over the following year and assess with their supervisor how the previous year has gone.

Direct dissemination of Fellows’ work has been through normal academic routes, including publication of journal articles, conference talks and posters, presentations at other meetings and workshops, etc.

Dissemination also took place through the RIFP website; production of postcards and posters to promote the scheme; an online news article on Fellows; and a brochure summarising the programme as of October 2018. The programme was also widely publicised during the proposal calls, with emails going to a wide variety of mailing lists as well as the programme adverts appearing in online portals.
A wide variety of impacts are expected from the programme:

Impacts in terms of the science projects of RIFP Fellows: A very wide variety of science areas is covered under the RIFP scheme, from pure physics areas to applied science directly relevant to global challenges, as described in the summary above. The science outputs, as well as contributing to domain knowledge with the relevant subject areas, also directly contribute to the Fellows’ career development, as their ability to lead a science programme and to demonstrate this through science outputs will be one of the key factors on which they are assessed in the future. Their science outputs benefit society through the addressing of global challenge problems.

Fellows' career prospects are enhanced through their training as well as their science. All Fellows are full employees and receive all the benefits that this offers.

STFC departments also benefit from the Fellowship Programme, through the attraction of high-calibre scientists to enable departmental research areas to be taken forward.

Additional impacts have been achieved which were not initially anticipated. In particular, the University of Oxford Departments of Physics and Chemistry took the opportunity to become partners within a proposal to continue the RIFP scheme, along with three industrial partners are also involved in the new proposal - all these actors are now aware of the programme and its benefits.
RIFP researcher Lei Ding in the experimental hall of the ISIS Neutron & Muon Source
Postcard no. 3 produced to advertise the RIFP programme
RIFP researcher Jhuma Sannigrahi during a public engagement event
Postcard no. 4 produced to advertise the RIFP programme
Postcard no. 2 produced to advertise the RIFP programme
RIFP researcher Mattia Gaboardi giving a talk during his fellowship
Summary infographic of the RIFP project
Postcard no. 1 produced to advertise the RIFP programme
Poster produced to advertise the RIFP programme
Postcard no. 5 produced to advertise the RIFP programme
RIFP researcher Kevin Glize at work in his laser lab.
RIFP researcher Yao Chen at work in his lab.
Cover of the brochure produced in 2018 to summarise RIFP activities to-date
RIFP researcher Anna Fedrigo at work