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Update from STFC. John Womersley Colin Vincent Astronomy Forum December 2011. John Womersley. 1. Forward plans and preparation for CSR 2014 - John Womersley 2. Astronomy programme update – Colin Vincent. John Womersley. What I want to do differently.

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Update from stfc

Update from STFC

John Womersley

Colin Vincent

Astronomy Forum

December 2011

John Womersley

Update from stfc

1. Forward plans and preparation for CSR 2014 - John Womersley2. Astronomy programme update – Colin Vincent

John Womersley

What i want to do differently
What I want to do differently

  • Advocacy for the whole of our science programme

  • Accessibility and transparency

  • Stakeholder relationships

  • Consultation and involvement of the community

  • I want STFC to be an organisation that is admired, and one that staff and stakeholders are proud to be associated with

What s not going to change
What’s not going to change

  • Our Vision, Strategy and Delivery Plan

  • Our Funding allocations

  • The commitments we’ve made to government around impact, Campuses, etc.

Update from stfc


Staff consultation underway

New structure in place April 1

The next 3 4 years
The next 3-4 years

  • We have a reasonably well-defined (and sustainable) science programmeand priorities for 2011-15

    • We should look for imaginative and affordable ways to broaden it where we can

    • Additional capital opportunities: e.g. £15M for particle physics and astronomy HPC this year

  • We need to deliver on our commitments to government from CSR 2010

    • Our strategy: Research, Innovation and Skills

    • Restructuring and Reorganisation

Bis innovation and research strategy
BIS Innovation and Research Strategy

Published last week - key measures give some idea what is expected of us

  • Monitoring the UK’s performance in terms of research outputs, and maintaining our reputation for excellence

  • Delivering Government investment commitments in High-Performance Computing and e-infrastructure, TICs, graphene etc.

  • Monitoring the proportion of UK research outputs that have an international co-author, the quality of these collaborations, and the volume of R&D investment leveraged from abroad

  • Increasing the successful engagement of UK universities and business with EU funding programmes

  • Increasing the number of high quality inward investment projects from overseas

  • Increasing the availability of public data

Future initiatives
Future initiatives

  • STFC’s mission means that we need to look 15-20 years into the future

  • Challenging to do this at a time when many find it hard to look more than 3-5 years ahead – but essential

  • Timescale for any significant funding is almost certain to be post-2015

    • Future calls on the Large Facilities Capital Fund

    • Bids in the next CSR

  • But not too soon to start thinking

    • R&D

    • Psychological/political preparation

      • Including the other Research Councils

Future initiatives1
Future initiatives

  • We can already see a number of opportunities

    • High Performance Computing

    • Future UK Free Electron Light Source

    • ISIS MW upgrades

    • Vulcan 10PW Laser and Laser Fusion

    • LHC upgrades at CERN

    • Square Kilometre Array

    • European ELT

Preparing for the 2014 csr
Preparing for the 2014 CSR

  • 2014 will be more political than 2010 – immediately before an election

  • Need to start collecting the evidence base now

    • “Already used” arguments lose their force

    • Need both case studies and anecdotes and broad surveys and data collection

  • Programmatic review in 2013

Why does government support science
Why does government support science?




Technological innovation, skills

Understanding of the Universe

The best of times
The best of times

  • Very high level of government support for science

    • Though based on pragmatism, what it can do for the economy, not on a love of learning

  • Great interest in fundamental physics

    • Higgs at CERN, neutrinos faster than light, Dark Energy Nobel Prize, etc.

  • Applications for physics courses at university in 2010/11 up by more than 17%

Update from stfc

UK research quality remains extremely high


Year No of pubs (world ranking) Citation impact (world ranking)

2008 2075 (2nd) 10.06 (2nd)

2009 2256 (2nd) 11.37 (1st)

2010 2411 (2nd) 11.79 (1st)

Particle physics

Year No of pubs (world ranking) Citation impact (world ranking)

2008 1127 (4th) 8.35 (1st)

2009 1047 (3rd) 8.99 (1st)

2010 1030 (4th) 9.23 (1st)

Nuclear physics

Year No of pubs (world ranking) Citation impact (world ranking)

2008 372 (7th) 6.47 (2nd)

2009 347 (7th) 6.99 (2nd)

2010 347 (7th) 6.74 (2nd)

Or the worst of times
Or the worst of times

  • Has the science community really come to terms with the seriousness of the economic situation?

  • In 2010 we did a much better job explaining the impact of what we do, but we did not promise radical new ways of working (either for the research council or the community)

    • Not clear to me that this approach will be good enough in 2014

    • UK economy may still be in/near recession

    • Community buy-in to “impact agenda” is still limited – but we need your ideas and input

In summary
In summary

  • High level of government support for science – but comes with expectations

  • We can demonstrate the excellence of our science, public interest and increased university applications

  • But the next spending review will most likely be more challenging than we expected

    • Work on the evidence base

    • What if we need to do more than just describe the impact that we have – how can we propose to have more?

Update from stfc

1. Forward plans and preparation for CSR 2014 - John Womersley2. Astronomy programme update – Colin Vincent

John Womersley

Astronomy successes
Astronomy successes

FMOS is now in routine operation on Subaru and delivering science;

SCUBA-2 has commenced shared risk operation on the JCMT and will commence the revised survey programmes in the near future;

The DES work at UCL has been completed and components will shortly be shipped;

1st round of consolidated grant has been completed (more later);

R&D support for future spectrographs in place;

Astronomy successes1
Astronomy successes

  • Several ALMA Front Ends have now been delivered to Chile and integrated onto antenna, allowing ALMA early science to commence. Work continues to complete the UK deliverables;

  • Advice provided to UK Space Agency on strategic priorities re- Cosmic Vision and space exploration.

Update from stfc


ESO Council:

agreed a budget which allows the long-lead items of the E-ELT to commence, in advance of the full approval for construction;

Expects approval for construction to be sought during 2012, once Brazil has completed its accession and 90% of the full cost of construction has been committed by Member States;

In principal: Germany; Sweden; Finland and the Czech Republic are willing to commit now

E elt1

UK position:

  • We have submitted a Business Case for our involvement in the E-ELT to BIS and await comments;

  • STFC’s Science Board and Council have re-endorsed the strategic priority of the project, though Council has yet to sign off the Business Case due to lack of time;

  • Confirmed funding for the next stage of development of those instruments with UK involvement;

  • Appointed a contractor to manage the industrial liaison aspects of the UK E-ELT programme.

Vista agreement
VISTA Agreement

  • The VISTA Agreement has now been signed by both STFC and ESO;

  • A small oversight team is in place to manage the delivery (Colin Vincent (STFC) and Gary Rae (UKATC));

  • The details of the Agreement are much as was described to the RAS Forum earlier in the year, but with much tighter controls on when deliverables might be replaced by cash;

  • All workpackages are now underway.

Update from stfc


  • Additional spares 0.6 M€

  • Extend warranty from 2 to 5 years 3.0 M€

  • Operational support 2.6 M€

    5 engineers for 5 years – recruitment commenced

  • Coating plant enhancement/extension 1.3 M€

  • Staff support for data flow and software 2.0M€

Update from stfc


  • Staff effort at RAL FEIC 2.0 M€


  • Additional KMOS hardware 0.6 M€

    Observing Time

  • 116 VLT nights 5.8M€


  • Go through the usual OPC process, then deduct 29 nights of scheduled UT time per semester from UK

  • Affects Periods 89, 90, 91 and 92

Update from stfc

  • The not-for-profit company to manage the Pre-Construction phase (to 2016) of the SKA has been incorporated;

  • The UK, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China and Italy are founding members. Several other countries are expected to join in the near future;

  • The committee looking at the choice of site is due to report in early 2012;

  • STFC has approved funding for its share of the cost of the SKA during Pre-Construction, recently re-endorsed by Science Board and Council

Update from stfc

  • Work on the new building for the SKA Project Office at the University of Manchester is progressing;

  • An Interim Director General for the SKA project – Dr Michiel van Haarlem has been appointed;

  • The Interim Director General will remain in position until a permanent Director General is appointed. The SKA Board is currently seeking candidates for the position of SPO Director General and the appointment will follow a process that is expected to conclude in mid 2012.

Ing and jac

  • The ING and JAC (JCMT/UKIRT) directors have brought forward proposals for the continuation of the facilities to the STFC Science Board;

  • Science Board agreed that an in-depth assessment of the case for extension was required, before it could make a recommendation;

  • It agreed to set up a sub-committee, chaired by Bob Warwick, made up of Science Board core and non-core members.

Ing and jac1

  • The sub-committee will undertake its assessment with a view to reporting to the April 2012 meeting of the Science Board;

  • It will seek additional information from the Directors, the facility boards and the community;

  • Given the short timescale, community consultation might be achieved via the RAS – your views are welcomed;

  • The assessment will include consideration of costs and benefits, international aspects and relationship to other demands on the Astronomy programme budget.


  • Following PPRP and PPAN review we have been able to provide good support (~£0.5M) for the design phases of several proposed new spectrographs;

  • These are WEAVE (on the WHT), 4MOST (for ESO), MOONS (for ESO), Big BOSS and DESpec (for Northern and Southern hemisphere US-led facilities respectively);

  • The design studies are due to report to Science Board in 18 months;

  • The science case for the spectrographs is primarily focussed on GAIA follow-up or further exploration of the nature of dark energy, but all can be used for a range of other programmes;

  • Provision for the cost of construction is yet to be made but will feature in the Programmatic Review.