Archive for Department of Theoretical Physics

A Head Again!

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth with tags , on July 4, 2019 by telescoper

Today is Independence Day – on which all joint probabilities P(A,B) can be expressed in the form P(A)P(B) – and by coincidence I received a letter that I’ve been expecting from the President. No, not Michael D. Higgins (nor Donald Trump for that matter) but the President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan.

Despite it being marked Strictly Private and Confidential I have actually read it, and it says that I have been appointed as Head of the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University, with effect from 1st September 2019.

The appointment is for three years in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal for another two years `subject to satisfactory performance’. So just the three years then.

The current Head of Department is taking a sabbatical next semester (from September to January) and just this morning we have been interviewing candidates for a temporary to provide teaching cover for his absence. Now we officially begin the handover (including, I suppose, moving offices…).

It’s about three years now since I stepped down as Head of School at the University of Sussex at which point I didn’t imagine I would be stepping up to be Head of Anything again, but to be honest this position has a smaller and much better defined set of responsibilities than the one I used to hold so I’m actually quite looking forward to it.

But first I’m going to take tomorrow off.

Summer Open Day

Posted in Biographical, Education, Maynooth with tags , on June 22, 2019 by telescoper


This morning I made my way onto campus to  represent the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University’s Summer Open Day which took place today. Naturally I encountered Maynooth Library Cat on the way. I’ve never seen him in that location amid the shrubs before, and when I saw him heading for that place I thought he might be about to do a poo in the mulch (which looks a bit like a litter tray). Instead of that he just flopped into the position shown in the photo. It was quite sunny early on today and I think he was happy to have found a spot in the shade.

Despite the good weather, the Open Day wasn’t as busy as the last couple I’ve been involved with, probably because this year’s Leaving Certificate examinations haven’t quite finished. Nevertheless we had a reasonable number of prospective students visit the stall in Iontas, shown here with Rebekah (a current student in the Department on a summer research project):

Later on I gave a talk. The audience was fairly small but quite a few people took the opportunity to ask questions at the end, so I think it was useful for those who attended.

At least today the weather was nice, even if the occurrence of the solstice yesterday means that the nights are now drawing in…

I find these occasions always bring a bit of a flashback to Sussex days, actually, when I used to have to do this sort of thing quite regularly on Saturdays throughout the year. It’s almost three years since I left there. Can it really be so long already?

 

 

Job in Theoretical Physics at Maynooth!

Posted in Maynooth with tags , on April 30, 2019 by telescoper

Just a short post passing on the information that we have a fixed-term job available in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University. You can find the details here.

The position is for 5 months, starting in September 2019, and it to basically to provide teaching cover for Dr Jonivar Skullerud who will be on sabbatical for a Semester. I know it is a short appointment, but it seems to me that it would provide a good opportunity for an early-career academic, perhaps someone straight out of a PhD, to gain some teaching experience.

The deadline for applications is 23.30 on Sunday May 26th, i.e. about 4 weeks away, and you should apply through the jobs portal here.

If you’d like to know any more please feel free to contact me privately.

Oh, and please feel free to pass this on to anyone who may be interested!

Self Assessments

Posted in Biographical, Education, Finance, Maynooth with tags , , on January 17, 2019 by telescoper

My first batch of examination marking having been completed satisfactorily and my next paper not taking place until the weekend (Saturday morning, to be precise), I naively hoped that I could devote myself to research for a few days this week as I am behind schedule in completing a couple of papers. Unfortunately this has not been as straightforward as I’d hoped. I’ve spent all of today doing various administrative things (expenses claims, examination reports, and a part of the Department’s Quality Review Self-Assessment document which is due in near the end of the month.

In case you are unfamiliar with such things, a Quality Review is an exercise that takes place from time to time for every Department or Administrative Unit in the University (and indeed for every university in Ireland). For the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University, the last one took place in 2009). The process begins with the aforementioned Self-Assessment document which basically lays out what the Department is trying to do, the processes by which it uses to do it, reflects on the effectiveness of those processes, and outlines ideas for how they can be improved. All the staff in the Department have been engaged in writing bits of this document, which is now gradually coming into shape.I’ve had a relatively light involvement in this because I haven’t been here for very long, but it has consumed quite a lot of staff effort.

When complete, the Self Assessment report is sent to a range of people both inside and outside the University and there is then a visitation during which the panel talks to staff and students and has a look around the Department. We’re expecting our `inspection’ to take place in March. After that the panel gives feedback to the Department in a report. The panel’s comments are made publicly available, as is appropriate for a publicly-funded body. The report emerging from the last Quality Review of the Department of Mathematical Physics (as it was then called ) can be found here (pdf). It’s all quite a lot of work – the latest Departmental meeting devoted to this yesterday lasted three and a half hours, and we’ve had several meetings like that! fortunately, it  will all be finished by next week. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.

 

Talking of Self Assessment, I realized last night with a panic that I hadn’t yet done my UK income tax return for 2017/18, also due in by the end of January. I spent this lunchtime getting all the bits of paper in order, and completed the task online fairly quickly as I’ve done it many times before. It turns out that yet again HMRC owes me a substantial refund. They haven’t handled my income tax properly since I left Sussex in 2016 as a matter of fact. Despite repeated attempts to get them to apply the rules correctly they have basically taxed all my income at source at the higher rate (40%) only to pay it back when I submitted my return. Fortunately, I am now domiciled in Ireland so won’t have to deal with HMRC much again.

Anyway, I should complete most of the outstanding administrative stuff this evening and if I do that I can clear a day for research, or at least writing up papers…