Archive for School of Mathematical and Physical Science

Athena SWAN Bronze for Physics & Astronomy at Sussex

Posted in Education with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2014 by telescoper

Athena Swan

Only  time for the quickest of quickies today, but I have some very good news to pass on so, without further ado, here we go. Today we learned that the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex has received a the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. The Athena SWAN charter has been running since 2005, recognising the commitment of the higher education sector to address gender inequalities, tackle the unequal representation of women in science and to improve career progression for female academics.

This award has been the result of a huge effort led by Dr Kathy Romer but also involving many other members of staff in the Department and across entire  the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences generally. The Department scored at or above the national average in all key areas: student intake (UG, PGT, PGR), research staff, academic staff, REF submissions and so on. That said, the Athena SWAN process has highlighted several areas where improvements can be made, such as in the mentoring of female postdoctoral researchers, and enhanced levels of training in equality and diversity matters such as the influence of unconscious bias. We are very pleased to have received the bronze award, but there is still a very great deal to do. Many other institutions and departments have already progressed to the Silver or even Gold award, but our Bronze is at least a start!



Brighton at home, and at home in Brighton

Posted in Biographical, Education, Football with tags , , , on February 9, 2013 by telescoper

So here I am again, in the office on a Saturday. This morning was the first UCAS Admissions Days during my tenure as Head of School so I came up to campus in order to make a short speech to welcome the prospective students and their parents to the University. Although I’ve only been in post for a week and hadn’t had time to prepare a proper presentation I think it went reasonably well. It’s bound to sound like a cliché when someone like me stands up and says it’s a very exciting time to be coming to the University of Sussex, but it just happens to be true in this case. We’re currently in the middle of quite a large expansion in the faculty across the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, or MPS for short, which means that there’s a lot of new blood coming with lots of new ideas in both teaching and research. The buzz around the place is unmistakable.

As far as MPS  is concerned,  today’s event was exclusively for students applying to do Mathematics so I had to pretend to know about  draw on my past experience of working in a Mathematics department in speaking to students and their parents. Of course the various activities inside the School were more detailed, so I tagged along a bit in order to find out what goes on in such events. Among the things that have changed since I was a postgraduate student here 25 years ago, is that there’s a thing called the Creativity Zone, which is a flexible interactive working space for the students to use in a variety of ways. I’m not saying we didn’t have any creativity when I was a student but teaching was rather one-dimensional in those days. I think the wider the range of teaching methods we can deploy the better, because different students respond differently to any given style; what’s best for one may not be best for everyone.

Anyway, in case anyone is interested I managed to find myself a flat in Brighton and took possession of the keys on Thursday morning. I then had to dash around buying bits and bob – bedlinen etc – before coming into work for some meetings in the afternoon. OnThursday evening I made a quick trip back to the old homestead in Cardiff to check everything was OK and  pick up some stuff for the flat (and my P45 which hadn’t arrived by the time I left last week). Passing through London on the way to Brighton last night I managed to make it to the Athenaeum for dinner with the RAS Club before returning late and very tired to my new Brighton residence.

If I hadn’t had to do the honours on campus this morning I would happily have slept until noon. It’s been such a busy week, that I’m definitely a bit knackered.  But then I knew it was going to be hectic and it’s all gone fairly well so far really. Now I’m going to head back home, put my feet up and do today’s crosswords.

The one complication is that Brighton and Hove Albion are playing at home today (against Hull) and their stadium,as you can see from the map, is right next to the campus, just on the other side of the A27…


However, the match is not until this evening (17.20) so I should be able to get home without too many problems.