Gap in nuclear physics research identified by IOP is to be filled

19 September 2014

A new theory group for nuclear physics is to be set up at a UK university – a move proposed in the IOP’s 2012 report, A Review of Nuclear Physics Research.

Gap in nuclear physics research

The IOP has welcomed today’s announcement that the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will make a special funding award to set up such a group at the University of York. It will provide funding to appoint a nuclear physics theory chair and PhD studentship there, while the university will fund a nuclear physics theory lectureship.

The University of York said that the move was “driven by a strategic need for theory and modelling support to the UK’s national experimental programme, which was identified in a 2012 Institute of Physics report”.

David Jenkins, reader in the University of York’s physics department, said: “I am delighted that the STFC has allocated additional funds to support the establishment of a new nuclear theory group at York. This will be an asset to our entire UK nuclear physics community and will also, in due course, allow us to develop new initiatives exploiting UK investment in leading experimental facilities.”

The IOP’s president, Frances Saunders, said: “We welcome this important step and we are pleased by this response to the physics community in the debate over the UK’s nuclear physics research capability. We are also pleased that some of the key issues identified in our 2012 review are being addressed.”

The new chair is expected to be in place by March 2015, the lecturer by June 2015 and the studentship will begin in October 2015, the STFC said. It will fund the chair position for approximately three and a half years, after which the University of York will take on the funding of the post.

The call to expand the UK’s capability in theoretical nuclear physics was highlighted at the launch of the IOP’s review in October 2012. Physicists noted that the nuclear physics community was producing research of high quality but was constrained by its size. At the launch, the chair of the IOP’s review, Prof. Bill Gelletly, said there were only around seven permanent academics working in theoretical nuclear physics in the UK.

The IOP’s publication said: “The panel recommends that the STFC and Research Councils UK take the initiative to create a new theory group at an institution other than Surrey or Manchester, with the location of the new group being determined by competition, and supported by the STFC and by matching funds from the successful institution.”

View and download the IOP's report, A Review of UK Nuclear Physics Research.