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The International Nuclear Physics Conference is coming to Glasgow at the end of July, SUPA is sponsoring the public lecture given by University of Surrey's Professor Jim Al-Khalili, and everyone is invited!

Nuclear Physics and the Making of the Modern Periodic Table

Tuesday 30 July 2019

SEC, Glasgow

Nothing epitomises the field of chemistry more than the periodic table of elements, a classification and ordering of all the different types of atoms in existence on a grid that can be found on the walls of every school chemistry laboratory in the world. And yet, for more than half of the 150 years since the periodic table was first proposed by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, it has been nuclear physicists, not chemists, who have been adding elements to it. To date, in nuclear accelerator labs around the world, 26 transuranic elements have been discovered, the heaviest of which being element 118, named Oganesson.

Through this SFC-supported collaborative project involving SUPA, life sciences pool SULSA and medical imaging pool, SINAPSE, we are exploring ways to build on Scotland’s existing research and industry strengths in this important cross-disciplinary area.  A range of activities are mapping current university and industry activities and trialling ways of supporting new collaborative activities across academia and industry.

SUPA was shortlisted for a 2019 Herald Higher Education Award, in the 'Innovative use of technology' category. The shortlisting recognises our video classroom network, enabling physics doctoral students from all over Scotland to learn from experts in any of the eight SUPA universities. 

The award ceremony took place on 5 June 2019 in Glasgow. We lost out to the University of Edinburgh,  but it was fantastic to be shortlisted alongside some excellent and innovative projects.

More information on the awards can be found on the event website. 

Optical imaging seed funding available

The Scottish Funding Council recently awarded strategic funds to a joint initiative involving the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance (SULSA) and Scottish Imaging Network (SINAPSE) to develop and expand academic, clinical and industrial collaborations in Scotland around optical imaging.

Proof of Principle funding up to £5,000 is now available to support research or partnership activity with industry in order to drive novel optical imaging research in the context of life sciences and medicine. Projects that bridge the different research pools are strongly encouraged.

Closing date for applications is Friday 26 April 2019 at Noon. More information about this call, and the application form, can be found here.

Outstanding academics and celebrated professionals join Scotland’s National Academy

Scotland's National Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), has announced the names of 62 people becoming Fellows of the RSE this year. Hailing from sectors that range from the arts, business, science and technology and academia, they join the current RSE Fellowship whose varied expertise supports the advancement of learning and useful knowledge in Scottish public life.

SUPA is particularly pleased to note a number of its members being recognised:

Prof Stuart Reid, University of Strathclyde

Prof Robert Hadfield, University of Glasgow

Prof Gail McConnell, University of Strathclyde

Prof Jan Skakle, University of Aberdeen

In addition, Dr John Nicholls of M Squared Lasers has also been awarded Fellowship.

For information on all of this year's awardees, please visit the RSE news pages.

Images of the exhibition and poster sessions at the SUPA Annual Gathering 2019

Weds 29 May, Technology & Innovation Centre, Strathclyde

The SUPA Gathering has built a reputation over the past 4 years as a showcase and celebration of world class physics research in Scotland. As well as talks highlighting some of the latest advances in physics research across all of the SUPA Themes, the programme offers examples of career opportunities for early career researchers, poster competition, and exhibition.

The 2019 Annual Gathering was very well attended, with 300 people from across SUPA universities and partners coming to the Technology & Innovation Centre at the University of Strathclyde.

This year's exhibition focussed on the impact of physics from both industry and academia, with over 20 exhibitors eager to talk to participants about the impact of their research and products.

Scottish innovation and collaboration have been highlighted in a new video produced for the APS March Meeting in Boston. Featuring interviews with our academics, researchers and the Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland, the video highlights our strengths across our seven research themes, and our Graduate School, providing advanced training for our doctoral students.

The APS March meeting is held each year in Boston, USA, for more than 11,000 attendees from academia, industry and major labs.

See the full video here.

CERN Update: LHCb discovers new baryon with two charm quarks 

Paul Soler, Professor in Experimental Particle Physics at the University of Glasgow, said in a statement: “This is the first time that a baryon has been conclusively observed containing two heavy charm quarks and is a new frontier in understanding the strong force that binds quarks together.” [Newsweek]

On the 6th of July 2017, Dr Patrick Spradlin, a SUPA physicist from the University of Glasgow, announced the discovery of a new baryon, called the Ξcc++, at the European Physical Society High Energy Physics (EPS-HEP) Conference held in Venice (Italy). The analysis was carried out by SUPA physicists working on the LHCb experiment at CERN. The findings are published in Physical Review Letters.

 On the 4th January 2017 a third gravitational wave signal (GW170104) was detected by both of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors further establishing the era of gravitational wave astronomy .

This week, the LHCb experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of five new resonances (very short-lived particles), known as excited Ωc (Omega_c) baryons. Baryons are composed of three fundamental particles called quarks. Well-known examples of baryons are the protons and neutrons that are found in atomic nuclei. A proton is made of two “up” quarks and one “down” quark, bound together via the strong nuclear force. The Ωc baryons are similar, but they are made from two “strange” quarks and one “charm” quark. These are like heavier (i.e., more massive) versions of the up and down quarks. The Ωc baryons do not exist inside atomic nuclei and can only be produced on earth in certain particle physics experiments such as the CERN Large Hadron Collider.



The “SUPAscopes” are three identical 1m robotic telescopes located at top observatory sites spread around the southern hemisphere: Siding Spring Observatory (Australia), South African Astronomical Observatory, and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (Chile). Our capital investment has been turned into a share of the larger world-spanning LCO (Las Cumbres Observatory) network of 0.4m, 1m, and 2m telescopes, with a partnership agreement enabling collaborative projects with LCO and further network partners.


By providing round-the-clock access to the night sky, the LCO/SUPAscope network enables quasi-uninterrupted time series observations with both multi-filter imagers and spectrographs, and is the leading facility of its kind in the world. The automated scheduling of the telescopes allows for fast response via software interfaces.


Outstanding Academics, Celebrated Professionals and Royalty Join Scotland’s National Academy

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) is delighted to announce that HRH The Duke of Cambridge has been elected to become an RSE Royal Honorary Fellow. We much look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with HRH, as we have with our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, and our other Royal Fellows.¹

The SUPA Careers Event 2016 took place at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on 6th December. In keeping with the format used successfully in the past, we had a range of speakers from various industries who gave a brief introduction and then took part in round table sessions where delegates had the opportunity to chat with the speakers, ask questions, and get an insight into a variety of career options. 

The SUPA careers event is designed to demonstrate the wide range of careers open to people with a physics PhD. The 80 student attendees heard from nine speakers who have careers in everything from satellites to software start-ups, including academia, finance, patent law and medical physics. Following brief introductions, the speakers spent 10 minutes with small groups of students to discuss their careers in detail before moving on to speak to other groups. 

CV clinics were provided by Vishanti Fox of the Institute of Physics (IoP), and careers advisors Keith Kilgore (HW), Helen Stringer (UoE) and Katrina Garder (UoG).

An exhibition of Scottish Physics employers included representatives from M2 Lasers, Textesor, Leonardo, Coherent and the IoP.

MagTEM at the University of Glasgow

In 2012 the Materials and Condensed Matter Physics Group opened the MagTEM facility at the University of Glasgow. MagTEM is a JEOL ARM (Atomic Resolution Microscope) 200cF which is a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) with aberration correction provided by CEOS. Aberration correction allows world leading performance of this instrument, and the capability of the instrument is summarised below:

University of Glasgow's LISA Pathfinder team has been awarded The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation and the British Interplanetary Society's 2016 Sir Arthur Clarke Award for "Space Achievement in Academic Research or Study".

The Welcome Event for new SUPA students was held on 28th October at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. First year students from across SUPA came to learn about the excellent research in SUPA, to meet colleagues in other universities and to receive advice from their peers.

Amplitudes 2017 summer school (July 2017): The study of scattering amplitudes has seen vigorous progress in recent years, both within Scotland and internationally. This school will provide training for graduate students and academics based in Scotland in this exciting field and will precede the annual Amplitudes conference. The school will be held at University of Edinburgh in July 2017.   Biophotonics North (2nd – 5th November 2016): Biophotonics is an important field of research within SUPA’s PALS theme area and many graduate students pursuing a Ph.D. in this theme will benefit from attending this conference, from mingling with their peers over an event focused on their field of research, as well as from meeting with delegates from outside SUPA. This will enrich their knowledge and inform their research practice by implementing ideas/know-how from other groups and horizons. Workshops on research-related problems beyond the laboratory – gender balance in research and career progression – will increase the professional skills and ethics of the attendees. This event will be held at University of St Andrews.   FluoroFest (Spring 2017):
Professor Norbert Lutkenhaus (Feb 2017): Prof Norbert Lütkenhaus is a leading international expert in quantum optics and quantum key distribution, who focuses on bridging the gap between theory and experiment in the realization of quantum technologies. Prof Lütkenhaus’ expertise is likely to appeal to students interested both in theoretical studies as well as in experimental implementations.  SUPA graduate students will have the opportunity to interact with Prof Lütkenhaus, and to learn about and be trained in recent developments in the fields in which he is an expert. Prof Lütkenhaus will deliver a series of lectures (indicatively each 1 hour long), to be broadcast / recorded through the SUPA videoconferencing network, and local seminars at the hosting institutions. Professor Lutkenhaus will be visiting University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, University of St. Andrews, and University of Strathclyde.   Dr William D. Phillips (July 2017):