Associate Professor in Particle Physics Instrumentation

Physics and Astronomy, School of Physics and Astronomy

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Birmingham, United Kingdom


  • Posted on: 07th Dec 2021
  • Salary: £51,799 to £60,022. With potential progression once in post to £78,265 a year.
  • REF: 52902
  • Closes: 31st January 2022
  • Contract Type: Permanent
  • Hours: Full Time

Background and Role Summary

This post will be based in the School of Physics and Astronomy, as an integral part of the semiconductor instrumentation programme of the particle physics group at the University of Birmingham. You will drive and develop activities in the Birmingham Instrumentation Laboratory for Particle physics and Applications (BILPA), a 200m2 suite of cleanroom laboratories, as well as taking a full role in teaching and administration within the school.

You will contribute at a senior level to teaching, research, and administration. In addition you will be expected to contribute to academic citizenship, likely to be demonstrated through generous, mutually respectful and supportive working relationships with all staff and students.

The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham has over 100 academic and research staff covering a broad range of research interests, along with 120 graduate students and 35 technical staff. It takes in around 180 undergraduates per year. Among its many strengths, it enjoys a distinguished history in elementary particle physics and has a large research group based on activities at CERN focused on ATLAS, LHCb, NA62, RD50 with strong growth in generic detector R&D activities. With University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) there is also a strong programme in medical applications of particle physics detector technologies. In support of the group and other activities in the School, the University has significantly expanded its capabilities in the area of instrumentation, based on existing strengths in semiconductor tracking detectors and trigger electronics, through the academic appointments of Prof. Phil Allport and Dr. Laura Gonella and about £1M of capital investment in research infrastructure with significant matching support for new equipment from STFC.

The initial target of this investment is the upgrade of the ATLAS experiment to cope with the extreme requirements of operation at the High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). The largest component of the ATLAS Upgrade programme is the complete replacement of the current Inner Detector with an all-silicon tracking array. Birmingham has equipped the BILPA clean rooms to accommodate the requirements of its contributions to silicon micro-strip module assembly, testing, quality control and quality assurance for the ATLAS upgrade. In parallel the Birmingham MC40 cyclotron irradiation facility provides testing for proton radiation hardness for a wide range of components relevant to the entire tracker upgrade programme.

Generic R&D towards novel detector concepts builds on work with the STFC CMOS Sensor Design Group, STFC Particle Physics Department, CERN EP Department and industrial partners. Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors in 65 and 180 nm CMOS imaging technology are explored for vertexing and tracking at the EIC and for digital calorimetry at future colliders. Within RD50 radiation hardness studies and development of fast timing detectors (using LGAD technologies) are explored with UK academic and industrial partners.

The BILPA facility supports a considerable parallel activity on silicon sensor technology applications beyond high energy physics (building on work with UHB on the EPSRC funded “Optimising Proton Therapy through Imaging” consortium and as part of the STFC Global Challenges Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy). Work continues with UHB, the National Physical Laboratory and STFC Detectors and Electronics Division on dosimetry applications of pixel detectors and their use for monitoring beams in the new modalities of FLASH and mini/micro-beam delivery and for hadron radiotherapy using advanced accelerator concepts.

You will specifically exploit the BILPA facilities in support of semiconductor detector R&D towards the high luminosity phase of the LHC, future particle and nuclear physics facilities and medical applications. You will develop future programmes in energy frontier instrumentation activities and participate in preparation of applications in support of these. Your role will involve close interaction (possibly including line-management/supervision) with technical and early career staff in the BILPA group, and PhD students (currently 3 technicians, 4 PDRA, 7 PhD students).

Research is likely to involve an established national and international reputation through significant original research work and a clear record of impact.

Teaching is likely to include: (a) development and leadership of major teaching programmes or equivalent; and (b) enhancement of the student experience or employability.

Management and administration is likely to include Departmental/School leadership and management activity with University wide involvement – for example through sustained high value research, knowledge transfer, enterprise, business engagement, and public engagement or similar activities.

Main Duties


You will contribute across the range of teaching and learning activities:

  • making a significant contribution to the pedagogical knowledge base of the subject that advances teaching through the enhancement of practice, the development of teaching resources and/or through practice-based research;
  • leading on the management and the development of approaches to teaching and learning, including designing innovative approaches to digital resources/environments and supporting colleagues to use them that are innovative to the subject area or institution;
  • leading on curriculum design at module and programme level to ensure it is contemporary, inclusive, engaging and academically challenging;
  • actively engaging students in curriculum design and sharing evidence of “what works”;
  • making an impactful, high quality contribution to debates about education policy, methods and practices through internal and external publications, subject societies and conference activity;
  • developing an external profile evidenced through engaging in external quality assurance activities related to teaching, eg. external examining and engaging with/supporting education in other institutions;
  • playing an important and sustained role in the recruitment and admission of students;
  • co-supervising doctoral students to completion;
  • leading the development of teaching, learning and assessment policies and strategies;
  • acting as an education mentor to colleagues in the School/Department/College or more widely;
  • leading the development of new and appropriate approaches to learning and teaching. This may be underpinned by research and evaluation of teaching methods and systems
  • leading sustained high value impact in knowledge transfer and enterprisethat enhances the student experience and/or or employability, and is of manifest benefit to learning and teaching in the College and the University
  • undertaking own teaching, which will include teaching and examining courses at a range of levels, planning and reviewing own teaching approaches, developing programme proposals, supervision, marking and examining. You will ensure that your teaching practice is informed by discipline based research, through participating in the research culture of the School.


To pursue sustained research activity through original research and scholarship, including other research-related contributions through conference papers and presentations and/or consultancy projects and advice, including:

  • exploit the facilities in the Birmingham Instrumentation Laboratory for Particle physics and Applications (BILPA) in support of semiconductor detector R&D towards HL-LHC, future particle and nuclear physics facilities and medical applications;
  • development of future programmes in energy frontier instrumentation activities and leadership of successful funding bids in support of these;
  • close interaction (possibly including line-management) with technical and early career staff in the BILPA group (currently 3 technicians, and 4 PDRA).
  • contributing to the management of research activities and/or supervising other research staff;
  • leading successful funding bids;
  • consistently publishing internationally excellent research, with some research regarded as world leading, that results in a sustained, highly respected reputation of international quality;
  • supervising and examining PhD students, both within the institution and externally;
  • providing expert advice internally and externally;
  • peer reviewing articles for peer reviewed academic journals and grant applications by research councils and/or other major funding bodies;
  • leading sustained impact activity including public engagement and makes a significant contribution to policy development at a national and international level;.
  • supervising and examine PhD students, both within the institution and externally;
  • as appropriate, managing research activities and/or supervising other research staff;
  • developing novel methodologies and techniques appropriate to the type of research being pursued.


Lead activities in the Department/ School and represent the School on College/ University committees or working groups.

  • making an important contribution to the development and running of the Department or School, for example, leading activity on research and/or teaching assessment
  • leading a successful international engagement at School or College level;
  • developing and managing staff and resources in support of major research and/or teaching activities
  • making important contributions to the development of the Department’s research and/or learning and teaching strategy
  • contributing significantly to the development and delivery of knowledge transfer, enterprise, business engagement and public engagement activities with sustained high value impact of manifest benefit to the College and the University;
  • promoting a culture (including policies and procedures) that embeds equality and values diversity and inclusion
  • leading, serving on and assisting the work of committees and task and finish groups beyond School/ Research Institute, e.g., Senate, Council, University Education or Research Committee etc.;
  • leading external committees, e.g., those associated with public/professional bodies or delivery of activities for an external body at an appropriate level, e.g., chairing sub committees associated with large elements of work;
  • leading/project managing a team to devise and implement a new and/or revised process;
  • making a sustained contribution to widening participation, schools outreach and/or public understanding of the discipline;.
  • contributing to administrative activities within the University


  • identifying wellbeing issues within the School/College/University and developing appropriate solutions to address these;
  • taking collective ownership of challenges faced by the School or College and working with colleagues to develop solutions;
  • mentoring and coaching of colleagues, particularly those in the early stages of their career.

Person Specification

  • Normally, a higher degree in High Energy Physics (usually PhD) or equivalent qualifications.
  • Demonstrated excellence in at least Research, with competence in Learning and Teaching and Management and Administration.
  • A well-established international track record in the area of design and construction of semiconductor detectors for particle physics or closely related applications with several years of experience in laboratory-based instrumentation development.
  • Evidence of effective team working in particle physics collaborations.
  • Evidence of collaboration with other Universities and industry.
  • Experience with R&D techniques and/or construction methods of semiconductor detector systems.
  • Expertise in DAQ development for particle physics instrumentation.
  • Ability to identify new areas of activity.

Learning and teaching requirements

An excellent teaching profile and performance in terms of both impact and quality. The teaching quality demonstrated to be informed by an appropriate level of scholarship.

  • High national reputation for the development of teaching and learning excellence within the discipline
  • Successful and sustained use of a range of appropriate teaching methods, and assessment strategies that promote high quality learning, including learning that is flexible, distinctive and current and stimulates learners’ natural curiosity
  • Significant and sustained contribution to one or more of the following: strategic development of new programmes; approaches to learning; the development of learning resources
  • High quality and sustained contributions to fostering excellence in teaching activities more widely,
  • Track record of substantial and sustained high value impact on the enhancement of the student experience, and/or employability
  • Mentoring and expert advice which develops the skills of colleagues in teaching and in fostering learning

Research requirements

An excellent national reputation and a developing international profile through significant original research work and a clear record of impact.

  • High level peer esteem as evidenced by
    • Excellent reputation in the UK and often internationally, reflected in sustained high quality output, level of innovation, impact on subject and recognition
    • An excellent and sustained record of peer reviewed research publications
  • Successful and sustained supervision of doctoral students to completion
  • Substantial and sustained research income generation, e.g. through research grants, contracts, research consultancy or other external funding
  • Sustained high value impact knowledge transfer and enterprise that is of manifest benefit to the College and University

Management and administration-related requirements

Demonstrated significant achievement in management and administration-related activities, which may include leadership of activities/initiatives

  • Successful and sustained performance in significant administrative/managerial role (s) (e.g. exams officer)
  • Significant and sustained high quality innovative contributions to the management/administration of the Department/School/College or University
  • Successful and sustained contribution to the corporate life of the School/College/University, displaying willingness to contribute actively to committees, collaborative teaching and administrative tasks
  • Actively promotes equality and diversity to internal and external stakeholders
  • Able to use data to identify equality and diversity issues
  • Experience of developing interventions to address equality and diversity issues

The University of Birmingham is an equal opportunity employer. The School of Physics and Astronomy is an Athena SWAN Silver Award holder and JUNO Champion, welcomes people from all backgrounds and is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where diversity is at the heart of who we are. We encourage applications from all qualified applicants; those from minority groups who are under-represented in this discipline are particularly welcome.

Informal enquiries to Dr Laura Gonella,, Professor Phil Allport,, Professor Paul Newman,

Valuing excellence, sustaining investment

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