Binding Blocks full nuclear chart from a birds eye view

KICK-START Internship

Introduction and context

The STFC Nuclear Physics community has a long tradition of undertaking public engagement across the length and breadth of the UK: engagement that we know has a profound effect on our audiences. A significant proportion of STFC’s public engagement is designed and delivered by early-career scientists, including PhD students, who are working hard to balance the demands of establishing their careers alongside their passion for leading high quality public engagement and outreach.

We know that this is a real challenge: PhD students often struggle to balance public engagement with their commitments towards their research projects; they may find themselves unable to make the time to plan new engagement and outreach to their satisfaction; may have no-one in their immediate peer group that shares their belief in the importance of engagement; and may struggle to benefit fully from current developments of good practice in public engagement.

The KICK-START Internships for Public Engagement in nuclear physics forms part of the Binding Blocks programme at University of York, funded by STFC through a Leadership Fellowship for Public Engagement (led by Dr. C. Aa. Diget, York). These internships will support talented PhD students to develop their own public engagement and outreach, to ensure the next generation of STFC nuclear scientists continue to deliver the highest quality of purposeful, audience-driven public engagement, and to ensure that new developments in public engagement in nuclear physics has lasting impact across the STFC Nuclear Physics Community. The majority of the internship project should be hosted at one or more institutions away from the PhD student’s home institution. The internship is supported through training and mentoring at University of York and through peer learning and feedback across the Binding Blocks team.

Aims of the KICK-START Internship Award

  • To support PhD-students working within the remit of STFC Nuclear Physics to kick-start their independent public-engagement projects.

  • To facilitate a broad impact of their public engagement linked to both their home institution and through the wider nuclear physics community.

  • To foster peer learning and peer support between present and former KICK-START award holders with a similar passion for public engagement and outreach and through incorporation into the Binding Blocks collaboration.

  • To improve understanding of the support STFC provides for public engagement and outreach (including funding mechanisms, evaluation, and reporting) and how to successfully utilise this support.

Funding for the KICK-START internship

A funded KICK-START internship will include three months of funding at a level equivalent to an STFC-UKRI PhD studentship. Existing funding is available for a UK-based PhD student working in the area of STFC-funded Nuclear Physics. Additional funding for travel and consumables will be available to the intern at a level appropriate for the proposed project, agreed in advance of the start of the internship.

The application process:

Applications for the internship should be submitted by email to physics-bindingblocks@york.ac.uk no later than 17th Jan 2019, 12:00.

The application should consist of three short documents:

  1. A short, tailored, 1-page, CV that outlines the applicant’s relevant qualifications, experience, and track record to date.

  2. A letter of support from the applicant’s PhD supervisor. This should include considerations of how the internship time will be facilitated through Leave of Absence, PhD programme extension, or equivalent, as well as how the KICK-START internship is envisaged to feed back into the public engagement programme at the applicant’s home institution.

  3. A 2-page document, that provides responses to the following four assessment questions:

  • What do you hope to gain from your participation in the KICK-START internship programme?
  • Describe a public engagement or outreach project you may wish to develop or expand as part of your KICK-START internship. You may as part of this suggest one or more external host institutions for where this project might best be implemented.
  • In relation to this project (and/or previous public engagement projects), consider the following three questions: What is your thinking process when developing effective public engagement or outreach? How do you evaluate the impact of your public engagement on the participants and how do you learn from this evaluation? How can you enable your peers and colleagues to participate in public engagement, both at your home institution and across the wider UK Nuclear Physics community?
  • How would you describe one specific challenging concept from your nuclear physics research to an eleven year old child?

The panel will support fair and inclusive decision making. It will make recommendations for the KICK-START Internship Awards based upon the written application and an interview with the panel for short-listed candidates. The panel will be comprised of a group of three experts who will cover a range of expertise in public engagement, science communication, formal & informal education, and nuclear physics.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their application with the Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement, Dr. Christian Aa. Diget (mail-to: christian.diget@york.ac.uk) in advance of the submission.