UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


Ernest Rutherford Fellowship applications at MSSL in 2023

MSSL encourages applications for the STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowships (ERF) which enables early career researchers with clear leadership potential to establish an independent research programme.

Key Dates (full details below):

  • Preliminary Application - 6 July 2023
  • Assessment of preliminary applications - 14 July 2023
  • Deadline for late submissions (at HoD discretion) - 21 August 2023


1. Purpose of the Opportunity 

Ernest Rutherford Fellowships (ERF) enables early career researchers with clear leadership potential to establish a strong, independent research programme. They encourage talented researchers in UK universities to remain in the country and at the same time attract outstanding overseas researchers to the UK. ERFs are intended for early career researchers who do not have an academic position. Each fellowship will last for five years.

2. Relevant STFC Regulations

The closing date for the 2023 fellowships round will be Thursday 21 September 2023 at 16:00 Hours.
All information and documentation regarding the ERF 2023 opportunity can be found on the UKRI Funding Finder webpage: https://www.ukri.org/opportunity/stfc-ernest-rutherford-fellowship/
Please note, there have been significant changes to the application process and the guidance for applicants. Applicants should read the guidance carefully. 

The STFC apply a quota limit to the number of applications for each UK University Department. For the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 2023 the limit is 4 applications.
Candidates should not be put under any pressure to accept an offer to be hosted before the 10th August 2023.

3. Departmental Process

A Departmental Internal Review process will be held to consider potential ERF Applications, assess each one independently, and if necessary to select 4 from a larger pool.
Applicants should be associated with a Departmental academic sponsor, with whom the proposal has been discussed.
Preliminary applications should be submitted for internal review to the MSSL Head of Research, Mat Page (m.page@ucl.ac.uk) by 16:00 Thursday 6 July 2023.
The candidate is asked to provide:

•    1-page outline Science Case which should introduce research aims and why achieving them is important, timeliness of the proposed research, and an indication of the technical approach and work plan.
•    a completed ‘resume for research and innovation’ (R4RI) form. The template form is available at: https://www.ukri.org/publications/resume-for-research-and-innovation-r4r...
•    a list of peer-reviewed publications (published and submitted)

The Departmental Academic Sponsor is asked to separately provide a letter of support (1 page max.) discussing eligibility, fit to Department/Research Group strategy, and the suitability of the candidate in relation to the published ERF assessment criteria including their track record.
A Departmental Committee will assess these preliminary applications and will give prompt feedback. The meeting date is expected to take place on 14th July 2023. 
The Departmental Committee has been selected according to role within the Department, experience of fellowship selection panels, coverage of MSSL’s science areas, and EDI considerations. This year the Departmental committee will comprise:
Mat Page (Head of Research), Graziella Branduardi-Raymont, Lidia Van Driel-Gesztelyi, Geraint Jones

The criteria against which the applications will be judged are the following:
•    the excellence of the research achievements of the applicant; 
•    the potential of the individual to lead their research discipline; 
•    the capability to maximise the potential of others and the ability to be, or become, a clear communicator and disseminator of knowledge; 
•    the excellence, timeliness, feasibility, distinctive vision and importance of the proposed research; 
•    strategic value within the STFC programme. 
•    fit to Department strategy
If, after this process, the applications quota has not been reached, further late-emerging applications for internal consideration may be considered at the Head of Department’s discretion, until Monday 21 August.
We cannot offer a guarantee of a proleptic academic position to successful ERF candidates.
Candidates who go forward to the STFC selection process are requested to keep the Head of Department and their academic sponsor informed of their progress.

4. Career Breaks, Diversity and Impact of Covid

MSSL welcomes returners to research from career breaks and applicants from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups. The Departmental Committee will take into account the effect on productivity of a career break and that this may continue beyond the return to work. The Departmental Committee will also consider the unequal impacts of that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of applicants.