ISIS has an annual call for Facility Development and Utilisation Studentships. These are co-funded studentships, normally 50% funded by ISIS and 50% by a university, which can be within any of the science areas studied by neutron scattering or muon spectroscopy at ISIS and should have a strong science case, but they must be focused on benefits to the ISIS facility. These benefits may include facility infrastructure development (including software), staff development or to further realise the benefits of a project previously funded by this call. Studentships have an ISIS supervisor and a university supervisor who work in partnership throughout the student's project. Over recent years, ISIS has funded around 80 of these studentships across a wide range of topics and university partners; here is a full list of studentships supported to-date:
Case studies of previous and current ISIS facility development students and their work are available by clicking the names below:
ISIS has available a limited number of 50%-funded studentships available to UK users or ISIS partners to run from autumn 2024: the deadline for requests is 4pm on 1 September 2023. Here are links to the 2023 studentship form, and a text version of the information below, including an appendix containing details of the scoring guidelines, for download.
Important Dates for the 2023 studentship call
|Call for Studentships||Opens 1 May 2023|
||Closes 4pm on 1 September 2023|
ISIS – DLS Joint Application shortlisting||October 2023|
ISIS - DLS Joint Panel Meeting||October 2023|
ISIS Panel Meeting||October 2023|
Announcement of Results||November 2023|
The studentship call is normally a factor of 3-4 oversubscribed. Therefore it is important to note the assessment criteria below in order to develop the strongest proposal. Please do contact
Martin Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like an information conversation about a proposal in advance of the call deadline.
3. Details of how to apply for an ISIS studentship
What are ISIS Facility Development Studentships?
ISIS wishes to co-fund PhD studentship projects that benefit ISIS. Studentship projects can be within any of the science areas studied by neutron scattering or muon spectroscopy at ISIS and should have a strong science case, but they must be focused on benefits to the ISIS facility. These benefits may include facility infrastructure development (including software), staff development or to further realise the benefits of a project previously funded by this call.
Projects should provide evidence of how the ISIS facility will benefit beyond the lifetime of the project, including evidence of the wider applicability of the project within the community beyond the immediate PhD student project.
Letters of support, direct and in-kind contributions from the science and/or industrial community demonstrating the wider applicability and impact of projects are encouraged. It is recommended that you contact Martin Jones (email@example.com) ahead of submitting a proposal to discuss the nature of your facility benefit. Proposal reviewers will wish to know that the project can reasonably be carried out within the duration of a studentship, and that other resources required for the project (e.g. any significant capital or resource costs required) are available from other sources.
Joint ISIS-Diamond studentships
ISIS is keen to encourage studentships jointly with Diamond. Projects in collaboration with the Diamond Light Source and partly supported by Diamond must be applied for via the
DLS studentship process. The ISIS facility studentship form cannot be used for joint proposals; please see the section 'Joint ISIS and Diamond projects' below for further details.
How many studentships are available?
ISIS will make available funding for approximately 6 half studentships, together with up to 2 joint with Diamond. Projects in collaboration with the Diamond Light Source and partly supported by Diamond must be applied for via the DLS studentship process.
ISIS Facility Development Studentships are co-supervised by a UK university or ISIS partner academic and an ISIS staff member. Any academic belonging to a UK university or ISIS partner with the authorisation to supervise PhD students may apply as the university 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.
Any applicants who have received previous awards must ensure that a closing report on any previous studentships has been submitted to ISIS (firstname.lastname@example.org) before applying for a new award.
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.
Students will be asked to present their work at ISIS student meetings during their projects. A final report on the outcomes of the project and its impact, together with a student leaving report, will be required at the end of the project.
What will ISIS provide?
ISIS will provide up to 50% funding for each studentship. Matching funds from other sources must be secured by the applicant.
Up to £2000 per year per student for travel and consumables will also be available for research training expenses including the cost of travelling to and from the Rutherford Laboratory. These funds are to be claimed against actual receipted expenditure provided by the student and
will not be paid directly to the University. 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 on receipt of invoices from the university. ISIS (STFC/UKRI) will set up an agreement with the host university which specifies a schedule for the invoices and payments to the university to cover the ISIS contribution to the studentship, together with other details of the working arrangements for the studentship.
ISIS will provide additional funds for ISIS Facility Development PhD students to help cover their costs while they are located at the Rutherford Laboratory. PhD students may claim up to £3000 over the course of their PhD either for a single extended visit or split up as is appropriate. This money is payable for any additional costs incurred during extended times at ISIS (short visits for experiments are covered by normal ISIS travel & subsistence reimbursement for UK or partner-country users). The ISIS supervisor must provide a letter of support for the claim, which must be submitted to the user office - with evidence of the increased costs - using a standard non-staff expense form.
Funds will only be paid directly to the student, and not the host university, and a maximum of £3000 can be claimed over the full duration of the PhD.
How long are the studentships for?
Studentships can start at any time after the award but should be filled within 1 year of the award and can be for a maximum of 4 years.
How to apply?
The completed application form, together with a 2-page project description of the studentship science project including risk management and critical pathway for the PhD program, and the facility development component, together with any letters of support should be emailed to Martin Jones (email@example.com) by 4pm on 1 September 2023. Project description must fit within the two page limit and must contain the following headings:
Background Background information of the proposal including why it is timely and interesting, and the goals of the project.
PhD Project The scientific project to be undertaken by the PhD student should be described and must include details of risk management and the critical pathway of the research program.
Benefit to ISIS/Utilisation How the project will either benefit the facility or profitably utilise facility development previously funded under this call and
must include details of wider use beyond the immediate research team.
Letters of Support Letters of support from researchers and/or industries within the field should be included. Demonstration of a wide potential user base and significant interest in the proposed development are essential.
Previous Project Outcomes Proposals from applicants who have previously received an ISIS Facility Development Studentship
must include an additional page in their proposal submission listing the outcomes from the previous award. This must include the status of the facility development component of the project and its usage; it should also include the current status of the science project and any publications, presentations, and further grant applications arising from the original award.
Certain information (applicant and institution, general project description) may be made public by ISIS for successful proposals.
When should applications be made?
The deadline for applications for this call is 4pm on 1 September 2023.
4. Assessment process and criteria for studentship proposals
Selection criteria for ISIS to provide funding
The criteria for assessment are listed below and guidelines for marking issued to referees and panel members are given at the end of this document.
The quality of the science (40%). External referees chosen from the ISIS facility studentship referees panel will carry out assessment of this criterion (/40). Exceptional proposal will be expected to show world leading / ground breaking research with high potential impact academically and/or industrially, likely to result in publication in very high impact general journals and/or top-rated journals for individual fields, or be of strong industrial significance.
The quality of the benefit to ISIS and the ISIS community (40%). Appropriate development projects will be of wider use to the ISIS community beyond the immediate PhD project and may focus on any aspect of ISIS including software, infrastructure and staff development (/40). Unfeasible projects, or those of unclear or poorly defined benefit to ISIS 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 are encouraged and should be included in the application. The appropriate ISIS group leader will assess facility benefit. Continuation proposals must identify how the facility will benefit from new proposal, including any future development and a previous project outcomes report as described earlier.
The quality of the PhD training (20%). What will the student undertake during their PhD and how will the combination of ISIS and University resources provide a rewarding and beneficial experience for the student (/20). The proposal must contain a description of the PhD critical path and risk management. External referees chosen from the ISIS facility studentship referees panel will carry out assessment of this criterion.
For submissions from applicants who have had a previous facility development studentship, the outputs from the previous project, in terms of the facility development component and science component, will also be taken into account when evaluating the new proposal.
Selection process for ISIS Facility Development Studentships
Proposals will be sent for external review and to the relevant ISIS group leaders. Once scores from reviewers and group leaders have been received, a selection panel consisting of ISIS staff and members of the ISIS user community will assess the referee and group leader scores and comments, and then rank the proposals for potential funding (see below for a list of panel members). 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, and will also be concerned regarding diversity of successful applicants. Scoring guidelines for referees, ISIS group leaders and panel members are given above.
The panel will meet to review proposals soon after the application deadline, and applicants will be informed in November 2023, after which a list of funded project titles and PIs will be published.
ISIS Studentship review panel membership.
|Duncan Gregory ||Glasgow|
5. Joint ISIS and Diamond projects.
Joint ISIS and Diamond projects proposals
should be submitted to the Diamond call for studentships only. Full details of the Diamond submission process can be found here
Projects that provide benefits across both the Diamond and ISIS facilities may also be funded and are welcomed. 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 reviewed as part of the Diamond and ISIS Review Panels composed of Diamond and ISIS staff. Successful Diamond and ISIS supervisors will then be invited for interview by a Review Panel, again composed of Diamond and ISIS staff, and Studentships awarded on the basis of these interviews (please note, typically only Diamond and ISIS supervisors will be interviewed). Interviews will focus on the selection criteria detailed above, the training provision for the PhD Student and the role of the Diamond and ISIS supervisors to the PhD project.
Proposals seeking joint Diamond and ISIS supervisors should be submitted to the Diamond call for Studentships
only. The request for joint Diamond and ISIS supervision must be indicated on the application form and in the case for support. Joint ISIS and Diamond proposals should be via the online Diamond proposal form and the science case must comprise a
three page project description. Joint ISIS and Diamond proposals should clearly demonstrate
why it is a joint proposal and of the three pages, half of one page must detail the X-ray aspects of the PhD project and half of one page must detail the neutron aspects of the PhD project.
ISIS and Diamond 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.
Accepted projects will be funded 1/4:1/4:1/2 ISIS:Diamond:University (1/3:1/3:1/3 funding ratio is also possible).