Balance of Programme Exercise - PPAN

STFC requires its programme to be reviewed every three years to ensure the programme is meeting STFC’s strategic priorities and funding lines.

The Balance of Programmes exercise provides advice and recommendations to STFC’s planning and decision making processes. Its purpose is to advise on a balanced programme of excellent science within a realistic financial planning envelope. A flat cash environment places great pressure on STFC’s programme and STFC will need to be well informed to make any challenging decisions.

A Science Board Sub Group completed a Balance of Programmes exercise during 2016/17. The Terms of Reference are provided below.

The Balance of Programmes exercise was an evolution from the previous Programmatic Review in 2013. The exercise was a general review of subject areas examining the direction, balance, breath and distribution in each area. It did not review individual projects.

Science Board considered the balance within the PPAN programme (excluding studentships). The PPAN programme covers:

  • Particle Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Particle Astrophysics
  • Astronomy
  • Accelerator programme for the above
  • Computing programme for the above

The review is designed to inform planning decisions and to help allow STFC to implement its strategic priorities. It will ensure that funded activities continue to meet STFC’s strategy. It will inform STFC’s strategic and financial planning and provide guidance on future funding levels for each programme area. It will inform STFC’s programme planning by giving a steer on the appropriate balance between subject areas and between R&D, construction and exploitation.

Community input into the review was provided via the relevant PPAN Advisory Panels and the Computing Advisory Panel.

For any general questions please contact Malcolm Booy.


Science Board Sub Group Membership:

“I am Chief Scientist at RAL Space, the space department of the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. I am a solar physicist, of 37 years experience, specialising in the physics of the solar atmosphere and solar impacts on Earth. I have led space-borne instruments aboard NASA and ESA spacecraft for the last 24 years, involving extreme-UV spectroscopic plasma diagnostic measurements of the solar atmosphere, and coronal and heliospheric imaging. So, I fall into the Astronomy part of PPAN, but with heavy involvement in the UKSA programme. I am a member of Science Board and previously served on AGP.”

Richard Harrison Profile

“I am an experimental particle physicist at the University of Liverpool. My focus is testing the Standard Model at the high energy frontier, with the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (in the electroweak and strong sectors; I have worked in heavy flavour physics previously). I lead our local Liverpool LHCb group. With regard to STFC, I have served as ETCC chair (finishing September 2016) and ex-officio member of SEAB, and am now a member of Science Board.”

Professor Gary Barker, University of Warwick

Professor Stewart Boogert, Royal Holloway University of London

Professor Peter Clarke, University of Edinburgh

“I am a Professor of Physics at the University of Sussex, where I am Head of Experimental Particle Physics and the ATLAS team leader. My current research focuses on the search for new physics and triggering at ATLAS. Prior to joining ATLAS, for over a decade I had been working on neutrino physics, with focus on short- and long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiments (NOMAD and HARP experiments at CERN; MINOS experiment at FNAL). Within STFC, I have served on PPRP (2007-10, core member from 2008) and the PPGP (2011-15).”

“I am a professor of astrophysics working at the University of Hertfordshire. I currently sit on ESA's Astronomy Working Group and the UK Space Advisory Committee, and have recently served a term on STFC's Astronomy Grants Panel. For over 20 years I have been a member of the MNRAS board of editors, handling papers on star formation and multi-wavelength Galactic/stellar astronomy and theory. My main research activity over the last decade has been as PI of two linked optical photometric/imaging broad- and narrowband Galactic Plane surveys. In 2009-10 I chaired an international panel reporting on streamlining the use of Europe's 2-4m class telescopes.”

Professor Hands is a theoretical and computational physicist with expertise in lattice field theory, with over 150 publications spanning particle, nuclear and condensed matter physics. After postdocs in Oxford, Illinois, Glasgow and CERN he has worked at Swansea University since 1993. He chaired the Scientific Board of the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas (ECT* Trento) 2010-12 and has chaired the STFC Particle Physics Grants Panel (Theory) since 2011. He is also a member of the DiRAC Management Board and the editorial board of the European Journal of Physics A. He was elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2013.

“I am a Professor of Physics and head of the Nuclear Physics Group at the University of Glasgow. My area of research interest is in hadron physics, with a particular emphasis on the spectroscopy of light baryons and mesons. The experimental programme is mostly based at Jefferson Lab in the US. In terms of STFC work, I have previously been the chair of the Nuclear Physics Grants Panel, and as a non-core member of Science Board, I served on the PPAN subgroup that carried out the most recent STFC Programmatic Review.”

Professor Bob Nichol, University of Portsmouth

Professor Alberto Vecchio, University of Birmingham

Terms of Reference

Balance of Programme Science Board Sub Group

The purpose of the balance of programme exercise is to ensure the balance of STFC’s PPAN Research programme is the most appropriate.

The Science Board Sub Group will:

Identify the most appropriate balance between STFC’s key research areas

  • Astronomy
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Particle Physics
  • Particle Astrophysics
  • Accelerators for the above
  • Computing for the above

Ensure there is appropriate breadth within each research area including development for future opportunities and scale of projects.

Identify the most appropriate balance between R&D, construction and scientific exploitation both across the programme and in each subject area.

Recommend financial planning that will ensure provision for STFC’s highest strategic priorities.

Recommend the appropriate balance of programme for the following financial scenarios.

  • Flat cash
  • Flat cash + / - 5%

Process timeline

Month Process
Jul 2016
  • 5-6 July – Science Board – kicks off BoP exercise
  • July - Advisory Panel questions finalised and sent to Advisory Panels
  • 28 July - Teleconference Briefing for Advisory Panel chairs
Aug 2016
  • 15 August – Balance of Programme Sub Group Telecon
Sep 2016
  • 21 September – Second BoP Panel telecon
  • 23 September – Advisory Panels input to exercise
Oct 2016
  • 17-18 October – First Balance of Programme meeting
    • Considered relevant documentation from Advisory Panels and STFC
    • Enabled oversight of the issues and possible options
    • Defined structure of the report
  • 26 October – Telecon with Advisory Panel chairs
    • Information about how the process was being tackled and discussion on lessons to learn for the future
Nov 2016
  • 28-29 November – Second Balance of Programme meeting - consideration of;
    • First drafts relating to each science area
    • Re-examination of the balance and statements discussed in October
    • Consideration of flat cash plus +/- 5% funding scenarios and their impact
Jan 2017
  • 17 Jan - Balance of Programme Sub Group Telecon
  • Final report preparation
Feb 2017
  • Report findings to first Science Board meeting of 2017

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000