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Rutherford International Fellowship Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RIFP (Rutherford International Fellowship Programme)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2017-06-30

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

The overall objectives for the scheme are:
- to employ up to 36 2-year post-doctoral Fellows across the facilities and departments of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Coucil (STFC) and the Diamond Light Source.
- to recruit these Fellows through three annual calls for applications. Applications are submitted by the applicants in order to pursue a research project of their choice. Applications are reviewed through an open and transparent selection process consisting of an eligibility check, review by external referees, interview and final selection.
- 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 is 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 are 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 consists of three calls for Fellows. At time of writing, three calls for Fellowship applications have taken place, in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The first two calls received 77 applications and resulted in 25 Fellows being appointed. The third all has received 38 applications which are currently being evaluated. The 25 Fellows appointed to-date have 11 different nationalities between them and came from 14 different countries including 4 UK nationals who have returned to the UK after time overseas. 8 of the 25 Fellows appointed to-date (32%) have been female.

A very wide variety of research areas are undertaken by STFC departments where Fellowship applications can be held. Research topics of Fellows employed to-date have included: development of photoelectrocatalysis methods for producing hydrogen from water as a clean energy source; development of medical imaging methods for histological studies; exploration of novel hydrogen storage materials; development of THz detectors for Earth observation for climate studies; development of time-resolved x-ray techniques for studying biological systems relevant to disease progression or drug operation; studies of novel surfactants relevant to personal care and pharmaceutical products; and modelling signal transmission for development of high-throughput satellite systems – in addition to a wide range of projects in astronomy, particle physics, condensed matter science and accelerator technology development. The first cohorts of 13 Fellows, at the end of their first year of employment, had published 19 papers, submitted 12 more and were working on 5 further publications (and at time of writing, 30 journal publications are now listed as published by RIFP Fellows in total). They had given 9 talks at conferences, 10 talks at seminars or other events, attended 18 external meetings.

Training activities for Fellows are strongly supported. This includes 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. Fellows are strongly encouraged to engage in public engagement activities including events for the general public and schools.
The key aim of the programme is the employment of 36 2-year post-doctoral researchers within STFC departments and facilities. This is achieved through three annual calls for Fellowship applications, in 2015,2016 and 2017.

To-date, two of these calls have taken place. 13 Fellows were appointed through the first call and have now been STFC or Diamond employees for over a year. A further 12 Fellows were appointed through the second call, and have now been working for a few months. The third and final call under the existing grant is underway at present, with the aim of recruiting a further 11 Fellows who will start in Spring or early summer 2018.

The Fellows employed to-date have been extremely productive. At time of writing, some 30 academic journal publications have been published by the cohort, some 50 or so conferences or workshops have been attended with participation in a further 30 other events including public engagement activities. Fellows have engaged in over 100 training activities between them.

Further information on the science areas and activities of the Fellows employed to-date can be found in the summary above.
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. Mobility has been encouraged through: first 25 Fellows to be appointed have 11 different nationalities between them and came from 14 different countries.

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. These have particularly come about through the application just submitted for a second Horizon 2020 COFUND award to support the programme. In particular, the University of Oxford Departments of Physics and Chemistry have taken the opportunity to become partners within the new proposal and are keen to participate in future calls under within the Programme. Industrial partners are also involved in the new proposal: Element 6, Infineum and Johnson Matthey have all promised training to the cohort of Fellows and may sponsor Fellows in the future.