ISIS Facility Development Studentships

Friday 21 July 2017

ISIS neutron training course students 2014

ISIS neutron training course students 2014
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ISIS has available a limited number of 50%-funded studentships available to UK users to run from October 2018. A full description of this studentship scheme plus instructions on how to apply is available and the deadline for requests is 1st October 2017.

Important Dates

Call for Studentships

Opens 1st August 2017


Closes 1st October 2017

Panel Meeting

December 2017

Announcement of Results

January 2018


What are ISIS Facility Development Studentships?

ISIS wishes to co-fund PhD studentship projects which include an element of facility development. Studentship projects can be within any of the science areas studied by neutron scattering or muon spectroscopy at ISIS but they must include a facility-related component such as technique, software or sample environment development which is of wider use within the facility beyond the immediate PhD student project.

How many studentships are available?

ISIS will make available funding for approximately 6 half studentships, some of which may be supported in partnership with the Diamond Light Source.

Eligibility Criteria

Any academic belonging to a UK university with the authorisation to supervise PhD students may apply. We assume that the applicant will be the university PhD supervisor. An ISIS staff scientist must be a co-applicant and co-supervisor, and play a full and equal role in the studentship project and supervision, including the interviewing of potential candidates.

All applicants must provide evidence with their application that they have already secured a 50% contribution of project costs.

The student must spend at least one year of their time at ISIS (at RAL for joint ISIS-Diamond studentships), in addition to normal short trips for experiments, during their PhD (in a schedule to be arranged by mutual agreement between the ISIS and university supervisors). Standard PhD progression qualifiers (1st / 2nd year reports etc.) may be used to assess the degree of interaction with the ISIS facility. If it is deemed insufficient interaction has occurred, STFC reserves the right to withdraw funding.

What will ISIS provide?

ISIS will provide up to 50% funding for each studentship. Matching funds from other sources must to be secured by the applicant and proof of funding submitted with the application.

Up to £2000 per year per student for travel and consumables (to be claimed against actual receipted expenditure) will also be available for research training expenses including the cost of travelling to and from the Rutherford Laboratory. The student will need to be registered at the host university, and ISIS will make payments to the university to cover the ISIS portion of the stipend and fees. ISIS (STFC) will set up an agreement with the host university which specifies a schedule for payments to the university to cover the ISIS contribution to the studentship, together with other details of the working arrangements for the studentship.

How long are the studentships for?

Studentships should start in autumn 2018 and can be for between 3 and 4 years.

How to apply?

The completed application form, together with a 2-page project description for ISIS proposals or 3 page project description for joint ISIS – Diamond proposals, letters of support and proof of co-funding should be emailed to Martin Jones ( by 6pm on the 1st of October.

When should applications be made?

The deadline for applications for this call is 1st October 2017.

Selection criteria for ISIS to provide funding.

The following criteria will be used for assessment (in order of significance)

  • The quality of the science (40%)
  • The quality of the technique development (30%).
  • The benefit to ISIS (20%). Appropriate examples of development projects will be of wider use to the ISIS community beyond the immediate PhD project and may focus on instrument, technique, sample environment or software development. Purely scientific projects or those with weak development aspects will be rejected. Letters of support from institutions other than that of the applicant(s) demonstrating the significance of the project to the wider ISIS community may be included.
  • Partnerships (10%). Partnerships with other RAL institutions (Diamond light source, Central Laser Facility, the Research Complex at Harwell, the Harwell Imaging partnership, RAL Space etc.), government laboratories (The Hartree Centre, NPL etc.) or private industrial will be viewed favourably, especially where such links are supported through additional funding. Supporting letters from additional project partners must be included.
  • Joint ISIS-Diamond Proposals. Projects that link technique development across both the Diamond and ISIS facilities may also be funded. These proposals must meet all the criteria for ISIS-only proposals, are expected to have PhD supervisors from the University partner, the Diamond Light Source and the ISIS facility and will be independently assessed by the ISIS and Diamond studentship panels. To enable applicants to make full project descriptions for ISIS and Diamond science, joint ISIS and Diamond project description documents may be up to three pages long. For joint ISIS and Diamond projects, a single document should be submitted to both the ISIS and Diamond calls for studentships.

ISIS and Diamond also recognise that strong partnerships between the institutions are facilitated by joint projects and therefore joint proposals will be considered favourably by the committees from ISIS and Diamond. Furthermore, referees will be instructed to look favourably on these projects when allocating a score for partnerships.

Accepted projects will be funded 1/4:1/4:1/2 ISIS:Diamond:University.

Selection process:

Proposals will be sent for external review. Once reviews have been received, a selection panel consisting of ISIS and Diamond Light Source senior staff and members of the ISIS user community will rank the proposals for potential funding. In addition to the above selection criteria, ISIS will seek a breadth of science areas and partnering universities when making a final decision on which applications will be supported.

The panel will meet to review proposals soon after the application deadline, and applicants will be informed in early 2018, after which a list of funded project titles and PIs will be published.

Proposal information:  

Applicants should provide the information requested on the application form.  In addition, a Gantt chart or project plan and a description of the research project to be undertaken should be provided. The description of the research project should take into account the selection criteria given above and should be a maximum of two pages for ISIS-only applications and three pages for joint ISIS and Diamond proposals.

Certain information (applicant and institution, general project description) may be made public by ISIS for successful proposals.

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