School of Physics Ad Astra Fellows Call 2021/22

The School of Physics delivers a full spectrum of academic undergraduate (Physics, Physics with Astronomy & Space Science, and Theoretical Physics) and taught postgraduate education, with 1 year Taught MScs offered in a range of areas including Space Science and Technology, Medical Physics, Nano-Bio Science and Nano-Technology, Computational Physics and Theoretical Physics. The School has active research groups in various fundamental and applied branches of physics.

Candidates are expected to contribute fully to the teaching and learning of physics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, to execute a dynamic research programme preferably aligned to one of the School’s research centres (CPHM: Physics in Health and Medicine, C-Space: Space Research, C-QuEST: Quantum Engineering, Science and Technology) and to provide academic contributions and leadership to their discipline, the School of Physics, the College of Science and the University.

The School is proud to be an Institute of Physics Juno Practitioner, fostering a collaborative, more inclusive working environment. We welcome applications that reflect the diversity in our global society. The School of Physics, in common with UCD more broadly, is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is afforded equality of opportunity. For example, any career breaks during a successful Ad Astra Fellow’s term will be taken into consideration when the possibility of permanency is considered after a four-year review of performance.

In the School, the promotion of an inclusive environment is championed by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion EDI group. UCD offers a wide range of supports (including those for parents, staff with disabilities, and/or from the LGBTQ+ community). We encourage applicants to consult this website for more details: https://www.ucd.ie/equality/support/equalitydiversityandinclusionunit/.

During the last round of Ad Astra appointments, three Fellow’s were welcomed into the School of Physics: Assistant Professors Nuala Caffrey, Rebeca Garcia-Lopez, and Antonio Martin-Carrillo and you can read their experiences below.

More information about this Ad Astra Fellows round can be found at https://www.ucd.ie/workatucd/adastra/ and a direct link to the application page can be found at here.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions in relation to this Ad Astra Fellows’ call.

Kind regards
Associate Professor Emma Sokell
Head of School

I joined the UCD School of Physics in January 2020 as an Ad Astra Fellow. Despite the lockdowns that happened almost immediately, I found my new colleagues to be friendly and welcoming and I was made to feel very much part of the School community, even when working from home. As well as the Ad Astra fellows, there are several other early career faculty in the School making it a lively and stimulating environment. There are multiple practical resources available to support new staff, including the ‘Newly Appointed Assistant Professor Development Programme’. This was a great way to find your feet in the new environment and network with other new hires from across the university. There is also a formal mentoring programme in the School, which allows you to discuss your progress and plans with an established faculty member. The reduced teaching load offered to Ad Astra fellows in the first few years meant I could initially concentrate on growing my Computational Materials Science research group and settling into UCD. There are lots of opportunities and invitations to collaborate with new colleagues, and invaluable support in writing grant applications, available both within the School and from the UCD Research Office. There are also multiple supports available for new lecturers, including the opportunity to obtain a professional certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning. I am really enjoying the opportunity I have now to teach both Stage 1 and Stage 3 undergraduate students, and to supervise the theses of highly motivated final year and taught masters students. Overall, I would encourage anyone thinking of doing so to apply to the Ad Astra Fellowship Scheme and I would be happy to talk to anyone considering doing so.  

Rebeca is an Ad Astra fellow in the School of Physics since January 2020. She is working in the field of Star-Planet formation, using state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation to peer into the innermost regions of protoplanetary disks to study the early conditions of planet formation within short orbits. She is an expert in using European Sourthern Observatory (ESO) instrumentation such as the VLT-interferometer, and she is representing Ireland in the ESO Users' committee since 2019. She is currently teaching two courses for 3rd and 4th year students at UCD "Stellar Astrophysics and Instrumentation Techniques (PHYC30100)", and "Galaxies and Cosmology (PHYC40030)", and she is also a 1st year Science students tutor for the "Scientific Inquiry" module.

"I felt welcome from the first moment in UCD. All my colleagues are ready to help in whatever they can, from advice about childcare, and schools to administrative tasks, and hiring new personnel. UCD also offers a lot of help for writing funding proposals, so this is a great place to work!"

Life as an Ad Astra fellow at the School of Physics is being very positive since I started in September 2019. There is essentially no difference between the Ad Astra fellows and the rest of the academic staff, which means we are fully integrated in the life and operations of the school. We can benefit from all career development programmes available for UCD staff, such as the Teaching and Learning certificate or diploma. In fact we are strongly encouraged to take these opportunities as early career researchers. Additionally, we have a reduced teaching load during the first years as Ad Astra, as well as a strong support from our Head of School. For example, we have yearly meetings to review our progress towards successfully completing our 5-year initial contract and progress to permanent staff. The grant support associated to the Ad Astra programme is also extremely useful to support our research. In my case it is being fundamental to secure a new PhD student and increase my participation in key international collaborations building new infrastructures for my research in Astrophysics. As an Ad Astra fellow, I am delighted with the support received since day one from UCD and everyone at the School of Physics.