Friday, 5 October 2012

Royal Society Fellowship

I won’t lie - the past twelve months have been stressful.  Not only have we had our noses to the grindstone preparing proposals for ESA’s next mission to Jupiter (JUICE), but we’ve also had a flood of data from Cassini and ground-based facilities concerning variability and seasonal processes on all of the giant planets in our solar system.  This was compounded by having to write multiple proposals to funding agencies to try to make sure that my job here in Oxford was secure for the next few years, as my Glasstone Science Fellowship (see my blog entry here) is now coming to an end after three years.

Proposal writing involves reading and re-reading the same motivational/technical text over and over again until you can see the words in your sleep.  Putting together a case for support that not only convinces yourself, but also your reviewers, that this science is timely and worth spending a lifetime on, is no small task. Then comes the lightning-fast interview, with suit and tie facing a large panel of experts looking to see what you’re made of; what your motivations are; and whether you have a future in this field.  So after all this, it’s all-the-sweeter to be finally featured on someone’s list of awarded fellowships, and possibly the most prestigious of them all:  The Royal Society

Royal Society announces prestigious University Research Fellowships for 2012

I am one of 36 new research fellows appointed by the society this year, in fields as diverse as particle physics, cellular biology, ecology and quantum chemistry.  My own research area concerns (yep, you guessed it) the exploration of giant planets, both in our solar system and beyond, specifically looking at seasonal and other time-varying atmospheric phenomena, as well as compositional constraints on the origins and evolution of these planets.  I’m also delighted to say that I’ll remain as a Fellow of University College, Oxford, who were kind enough to offer me a Junior Research Fellowship when I received by Glasstone fellowship in 2009.  

So after months of proposals and interviews, I’m happy to say that you’ll all have to put up with me for a little while longer, as I get to continue studying the solar system from the safe environs of the dreaming spires.

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