Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

12 April 2018

IOP’s new Early Career Members Group (ECM Group) was launched with a reception on 5 April, with founding members pledging to make it a voice for early-career physicists and a focus for networking, collaboration and mentoring.

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

Support and encouragement for the new group came from IOP Vice-President for Science and Innovation, Professor Sarah Thompson (pictured below left), who said that its members would have new ideas for the way IOP works and for the future of physics. Speaking at the launch, she said: “It’s important that you don’t feel held back by the way that groups have done things before, as there’s no standard way of doing things.”

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

IOP had numerous special interest groups that brought like-minded people together, she said, explaining that some focused on particular fields of physics while others cut across all areas, such as the Women in Physics Group – and the fledgling ECM Group would be of that kind.

All of the groups were looked after by IOP’s Science and Innovation Committee, she said, and two of the committee’s members, Dr Robert Thompson and Joe Beaver, had first identified a need for a group for people who were at an early career stage. IOP held a town meeting on 27 October to discuss the idea and make preliminary plans, which led on to the launch.

Robert (pictured top), co-chair of the group with Joe and a researcher and Impact Fellow at University College London’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department, said part of the role of the new group would be to represent the voice of early-career members to the Institute and through IOP to influence external bodies such as the research councils.

Its activities could include peer-to-peer support, networking, and creating opportunities for collaboration and inspiration, he said, all of which were important to early-career researchers who wanted to make progress, and this could only happen when people were able to meet those outside their specific field. “We’re not all from academia or industry and we want this group to span the entirety of the physics community that IOP represents.”

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

The group’s secretary, Dr Apostolos Evangelopoulos, said two very important elements of the ECM Group would be to bring people together from different sectors, such as academia and industry, and not just those engaged in different topics of research, and, in the long run, to facilitate mentoring so that members could learn from people who were more experienced.

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

Also speaking at the launch was the group’s treasurer, Maciej Matuszewski, who is just finishing a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Durham. He said it was very common for people to feel a bit lost at the start of their careers and to be uncertain how to progress. He hoped that the group would provide support to individuals as well as build a community that went beyond any career boundaries to build links between people in industry, research and further afield.

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

Jennifer Radtke, who is a PhD student in quantum optics at the University of Strathclyde, is the group’s social media officer. She encouraged people to follow the group on twitter @IOPECM and to share their thoughts using #IOPEarlyCareer. The ECM Group also has a LinkedIn group, she said.

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

The group has two events and outreach officers – Christine Thorogood and Sam Alvey-Taylor – who are both apprentices at the National Physical Laboratory. Christine said plans for future activities included a half-day workshop and full-day conference. Sam said the aim would be to focus events on general topics rather than particular areas of science, and to try to ensure that these took place in different parts of the country rather than just in London.

Early-career physicists gain a new voice with launch of IOP group

The group’s careers officer, Robin Ravi Gajria, also spoke at the launch. Serving on the committee but unable to attend were co-chair Joe Beaver, diversity officer Anuradha Damale, prizes officer Richard Lynn and Dr James Guggenheim, who is yet to be assigned a role.

Robert said the group’s plans included setting up a newsletter, live-streaming events and sponsoring a prize. Group events would be open to everyone but he encouraged anyone who was not an IOP member to join via the Institute’s website and those who were members but had not joined the ECM Group to visit MyIOP and tick the box indicating that they wanted to be a member of the group.