Archive for Science and Technology Facilities Council

Astronomy Grant Outcomes

Posted in Science Politics with tags , , on June 28, 2012 by telescoper

While this is by no means an official outlet for news from the Science and Technology Facilities Council nor the Astronomy Grants Panel (AGP) thereof, but I am on the AGP so I thought I’d take the opportunity to pass on a bit of news to the UK community, or at least those members that read this blog.

An email  by Colin Vincent of STFC  was circulated this evening via the ASTROCOMMUNITY email list, which includes the following:

As part of the process for improving the feedback to the community of outcomes we have just published a more detailed listing of the recommendations for all projects. This can be found at

We hope that the community will find this helpful. This information supplements what is already available in STFC’s ‘Grants on the Web’ pages.

The link included there takes you to a page that includes a general description of how the AGP works and what it tries to do, and also for the first time (as far as I’m aware) a link to a document that contains a ranked list of all the projects rated fundable, whether funded or unfunded.

Speaking personally, i.e. not in my capacity as an AGP member, I think making this amount of detail public is an extremely good move, as I think it makes the process much more transparent. There’s just a chance, however, that the actual list might ruffle a few feathers here and there, and probably in other places too.

As always, please feel free to comment through the box below, but if you do so please remember that this is a personal blog and I’m passing this on as a community service. I can’t respond on behalf of the AGP, so please don’t ask me to!

UPDATE:  29th June 2012. The document containing the AGP outcomes has been removed from the STFC website. Don’t ask me why…

STFC Programmatic Review

Posted in Science Politics with tags , , , on June 7, 2012 by telescoper

Following hard on the heels of  its decision to close the UK Infra-red Telescope and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii, the Science and Technology Fatalities Council today announced the next stage of its Programmatic Review.

STFC graciously invites your contribution to this exercise, which is to be conducted by a Mr Reaper from Swindon…

The STFC Card: Place your Bets

Posted in Science Politics with tags , on September 3, 2011 by telescoper

The closing of the transfer window for the football Premiership last week left many disappointed with their team’s failure to bring in new talent for the forthcoming season. Meanwhile, talking of things ending in -FC, rumours are circulating as to why there’s been no announcement yet of the new Chief Executive of the Science & Technology Facilities Council. So I thought I’d liven things up by opening a book on the appointment process. Here is the lowdown on  the leading contenders, together with their respective odds, from our man in Polaris House.

5-4 ON, Fav. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.  The bookies’ favourite. Known to be seeking employment, experienced at running large facilities. Has not been heard of for weeks, so may in fact already have been appointed.

EVENS. Prof. Richard Wade. Current Director of Science Programme at STFC so has good inside knowledge. His gruff northern exterior masks an interior that’s both gruff and northern. Represents continuity with existing management. Er…

13-8. Professor Brian Cocks.  Some bloke off the telly. Popular with the ladies. Born in the Midlands, near Manchester. Currently the only person in the UK who knows anything about either particle physics or astronomy. Will need to stop smiling and get a different haircut, but nevertheless could be worth a punt. Good track record at recording tracks (Groan. Ed).

3-1. George F. Stathew. Enigmatic character thought to be a cosmologist with some sort of connection to Cambridge University. Rarely seen in public so difficult to assess his form. Low profile, together with elusive and uncommunicative nature generally thought to be assets for this position. A bit of a dark horse, this one, but favoured by some smart money in recent months.

7-1. Andy Lawrence. American actor as well as Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (Is this right? Ed). Generally considered to be too young for the job (at 58), but known to be particularly fond of the Swindon area and rumoured to be planning to spend several weeks there in the near future. Definitely an outside chance.

10-1. Saddam Hussein. Similar credentials to the favourite. Experienced at dealing effectively with difficult people. Would be an even stronger contender had he not been executed in 2006, but lack of vital signs not thought to preclude appointment to this position.  A drawback is that he is known to be highly strung. Definitely worth an outside  bet, but may turn out to be a non-runner.
20-1. Steve McClaren. Rumoured to be unsettled at Nottingham Forest, so a move to Swindon Town is definitely possible in the near future (That’s the wrong STFC! Ed). Points in favour include an excellent  range of miserable facial expressions, large repertoire of footballing clichés, and a remarkable track-record in management. (Now you’re just being silly. Ed.) Downsides include his remarkable track-record in management.
33-1. Keith Mason. Current Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and prop forward for Huddersfield Giants Rugby Leage Team (Shurely Shome Mishtake? Ed.) Probably a bit old to be a serious contender for the position but an outside chance that he might stay on for another season. Thought to be keen to complete the job that he started (unfortunately). Better the devil you know? Definitely a wild card but don’t rule him out.

50-1. BAR. Are they open yet? (You’re fired. Ed.)