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Department of Meteorology – University of Reading

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Fellowships within the Department of Meteorology

The Department of Meteorology typically has over 100 active PostDoctoral researchers and around 90 PhD students at any time, supported by over 60 permanent staff. We therefore strongly support postdocs from both inside and outside the department who are becoming independent to apply for Research Fellowships (e.g. from the funding agencies listed below) to come to Reading to set their own research agendas. Expressions of interest to seek a Fellowship can be submitted at any time (email Keith Haines) and the department will review these internally and provide feedback several months before funder’s deadlines. Please be clear from which fellowship scheme you are seeking support. Strong applicants will be given a personal mentor to give advice and guidance and critical review of applications. The department also runs mock interviews for those applicants called to present.

The University of Reading takes its commitment to the career development of young researchers very seriously. All staff have an annual performance development review (PDR) at which they have the opportunity to discuss their achievements over the past year, their plans for the next year and their future career plans. A wide range of training courses are available from the University’s Centre for Staff Training and Development.

The Department of Meteorology prides itself on its friendly atmosphere and supportive culture, with advice always available from many colleagues, from our existing Research fellows through to the Heads of Department. The department is the holder of an Athena Swan Silver award for the promotion of equal opportunities for women in science. We operate a proposal mentorship scheme for all grant applicants which is particularly useful for new investigators. To facilitate awareness of wider scientific activities, there are two Departmental seminars per week in each semester, and around 15 regular informal research group meetings, open to all, that cover the full range of scientific interests in the Department.

Fellowship schemes

Fellowships are available from many sources, some providing full research costs and some requiring subsidising from the Meteorology department, for example for up to 50% of research costs. A list of the current fellowship schemes that the department has supported, along with applicant information, can be found at the end of this page.

Three current Fellowship holders give their perspective on our Fellowship programme below.

Dr Claire Ryder

I am a NERC Independent Research Fellow, working on the impact of coarse mineral dust particles on the climate system.

This is a 5 year research position (6 years in reality, since I work 0.8 FTE) where I am to exploit new in-situ measurements of coarse and giant mineral dust particles measured over the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean by providing a detailed analysis of dust size, chemical, morphological and optical properties, radiative closure under high loadings of dust, application of the dust properties to satellite retrievals, and a regional and global estimate of the radiative effect due to coarse dust particles. Reading is an ideal place to undertake my fellowship, since my research will span several fields, from aerosol properties, to radiative impacts, to satellite retrievals and impacts in climate models and the department has expertise and strong research groups in all these areas. Reading has a number of excellent career development opportunities, particularly access to high quality students to work with via undergraduate and MSc student project supervision, which provides a fantastic way to interact with the students without the rigour of teaching a defined course, and allows me to devote my attention to research at this stage in my career.

Dr Paul Williams

I am currently a Royal Society University Research Fellow, having previously been a NERC Independent Research Fellow.

These two fellowships have allowed me to gain independence and become the ‘captain of my own ship’, choosing my own research priorities and devoting most of my time to them. I am a computer modeller and I have used my fellowships to investigate how random numbers can be used to improve climate models; to develop better time-stepping schemes for the models; and to study how aviation turbulence is becoming stronger in response to climate change.

I have chosen to hold both fellowships in the Department of Meteorology here at the University of Reading because it is a world-leading climate modelling centre, hosting the climate division of NERC’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). The computing facilities and modelling expertise here are outstanding and have really enriched and benefited my fellowship projects.

Dr Keri Nicoll

I currently hold a NERC Independent Research Fellowship (IRF) entitled “Understanding energetic particle effects on atmospheric processes”.

The NERC IRF is a great scheme which has provided me with 5 years of funding to focus primarily on research. Such research investigates one of the potential indirect effects of solar variability on atmospheric processes, which is the effect of electrical charge on clouds. Charge accumulates at the upper and lower boundaries of layer clouds due to constant vertical flow of charge in the atmosphere. The charge sticks to the cloud droplets, which is thought to influence the behaviour of the droplets, such as how they grow and stick together, which can be seen in large-scale cloud properties such as cloud height. Since such clouds control heating and cooling in the atmosphere, and cover around 40% of the Earth’s surface at any one time, charge effects on clouds may have implications for climate.

My research is therefore characterising the factors which control charge in the atmosphere, and the typical charge present inside layer clouds. To do this I utilise a suite of newly-developed sensors to make airborne measurements from weather balloons and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These airborne measurements are combined with surface measurements of charge and atmospheric electricity at various sites around the world to understand the global response of charge to changes in solar variability. The NERC IRF has given me the freedom to travel to a variety of field campaign locations around the word including Lapland and Antarctica. Hosting my fellowship in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading means that I have access to a fully instrumented atmospheric field site (the Reading University Atmospheric Observatory), as well as the equipment and ability to launch instrumented balloons, essential to my research. .

Fellowship opportunities for Early Career Researchers

The table below summarises the main fellowship opportunities available for early career researchers in the Meteorology department (accurate as of March 2017). Details of internal processes for candidate selection can be found in the notes column.

The focus is mainly on fellowships that could support applicants working in Reading.

Funder Fellowship Eligibility Indicative Deadline Notes
NERC Independent Research Fellowship Up to 8 years PDRA experience October Met Dept will select strongest applicants to go forward on basis of CVs and an outline case. Dept decisions made in July.
STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship Min 5 years research experience, inc 2 years PDRA experience September Must be in STFC core programme (astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology and nuclear physics). Provides 5 years support. STFC cap the number submitted per department (Meteorology capped at 1 applicant in recent years).
EPSRC EPSRC Fellowships No limit Ongoing Single Fellowship scheme supporting three career stages (postdoctoral, early career and established career). Must be within one of EPSRC’s priority areas as identified on the fellowship webpages.
Royal Society University Research Fellowship 3-8 years PDRA experience September Met Dept will normally select from applicants interested also in the NERC Fellowships and encourage additional application. These are extremely competitive and normally only one applicant has been put in per year from Met. The Royal Society has a maximum salary stipend, often requiring the Dept to subsidise successful applicants salaries.
Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship Up to 6 years PDRA experience January Applicant must need a flexible working pattern. Female candidates are particularly invited to apply. Maximum stipend may require university subsidy.
Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship Up to 5 years PDRA experience March Provides 50% funding up to 3 years. Recently our school have been allowed to put forward 3-4 as only 1-2 at most likely to be supported. Usually an internal competition in December. Note Leverhulme topic preferences.
AXA Postdoctoral Fellowship Up to 5 years PDRA experience Up to two calls per year – May, Jan. Funding for 2 years. Applicant must have or plan international exposure (eg. work in another country for “minimum of 1 semester”, see website). University selection in December. Themes are decided by AXA and the application needs to fit into that theme: call topics change annually. Shortfall in salary needs to be covered by department.
Daphne Jackson Trust Daphne Jackson Fellowship Returning after 2+ years Ongoing Returning to research after career break of 2+ years (Family, caring or health reasons). Requires co-funding by an external funder. NERC offers co-funding for these fellowships – link
Fullbright Scholarship All-discipline Scholar Awards PhD October/November Up to 5 grants are offered to UK academics and professionals to undertake lecturing, research or a combination of the two in any discipline for a period of 3-10 months in the US. Need to make link with US institution.
EU – Marie Curie Individual Fellowships Min 4 years postgraduate research experience (can include PhD) September Moving country within Europe or Beyond Europe+Return. 2 year awards or 2 years + 1 year return to Europe. Only external candidates may apply to come to Reading, although Reading candidates may apply to work overseas for 2 years and then return.
EU – European Research Council Starting Grants (staff with permanent positions) 2-7 yrs PDRA experience March 5 years. Up to €1.5 million (although up to €2 million in some circumstances). Internal University EoI stage. Needs discussion with Head of Department/Research Division Leader prior to submission of EoI.


Options for early career researchers other than listed above

Researcher Co-Investigator (Res Co-I) on RCUK grants: Applicants who are not eligible to be a PI or Co-I have the option of being a Res Co-I (NERC, EPSRC, STFC). Res Co-Is have to make a substantial contribution to the development and writing of an application. Usually applicants will have done one or two postdocs (shows credibility of having the experience to write a proposal).

Research and Enterprise Services (RES) Support

Research and Enterprise Services (RES) support academics across the university when applying for research funding. To find the contact in RES for your research division see the contacts webpage.

You can find out more about RES on our website. The website has information on applying for grants and also contains a successful proposal library (university username and password required when following this link).

Updated January 2018

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