Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

Winners of Rishbeth Prizes 2023

We are pleased to announce that following Spring MIST 2023 the Rishbeth Prizes this year are awarded to Sophie Maguire (University of Birmingham) and Rachel Black (University of Exeter).

Sophie wins the prize for the best MIST student talk which was entitled “Large-scale plasma structures and scintillation in the high-latitude ionosphere”. Rachel wins the best MIST poster prize, for a poster entitled “Investigating different methods of chorus wave identification within the radiation belts”. Congratulations to both Sophie and Rachel!

As prize winners, Sophie and Rachel will be invited to write articles for Astronomy & Geophysics, which we look forward to reading.

MIST Council extends their thanks to the University of Birmingham for hosting the Spring MIST meeting 2023, and to the Royal Astronomical Society for their generous and continued support of the Rishbeth Prizes.

Nominations for MIST Council

We are pleased to open nominations for MIST Council. There are two positions available (detailed below), and elected candidates would join Beatriz Sanchez-Cano, Jasmine Kaur Sandhu, Andy Smith, Maria-Theresia Walach, and Emma Woodfield on Council. The nomination deadline is Friday 26 May.

Council positions open for nomination

  • MIST Councillor - a three year term (2023 - 2026). Everyone is eligible.
  • MIST Student Representative - a one year term (2023 - 2024). Only PhD students are eligible. See below for further details.

About being on MIST Council

If you would like to find out more about being on Council and what it can involve, please feel free to email any of us (email contacts below) with any of your informal enquiries! You can also find out more about MIST activities at mist.ac.uk.

Rosie Hodnett (current MIST Student Representative) has summarised their experience on MIST Council below:
"I have really enjoyed being the PhD representative on the MIST council and would like to encourage other PhD students to nominate themselves for the position. Some of the activities that I have been involved in include leading the organisation of Autumn MIST, leading the online seminar series and I have had the opportunity to chair sessions at conferences. These are examples of what you could expect to take part in whilst being on MIST council, but the council will welcome any other ideas you have. If anyone has any questions, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

How to nominate

If you would like to stand for election or you are nominating someone else (with their agreement!) please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday 26 May. If there is a surplus of nominations for a role, then an online vote will be carried out with the community. Please include the following details in the nomination:
  • Name
  • Position (Councillor/Student Rep.)
  • Nomination Statement (150 words max including a bit about the nominee and your reasons for nominating. This will be circulated to the community in the event of a vote.)
MIST Council contact details

Rosie Hodnett - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mathew Owens - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Beatriz Sanchez-Cano - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jasmine Kaur Sandhu - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Andy Smith - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Maria-Theresia Walach - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emma Woodfield - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
MIST Council email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RAS Awards

The Royal Astronomical Society announced their award recipients last week, and MIST Council would like to congratulate all that received an award. In particular, we would like to highlight the following members of the MIST Community, whose work has been recognised:
  • Professor Nick Achilleos (University College London) - Chapman Medal
  • Dr Oliver Allanson (University of Birmingham) - Fowler Award
  • Dr Ravindra Desai (University of Warwick) - Winton Award & RAS Higher Education Award
  • Professor Marina Galand (Imperial College London) - James Dungey Lecture

New MIST Council 2021-

There have been some recent ingoings and outgoings at MIST Council - please see below our current composition!:

  • Oliver Allanson, Exeter (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2024 -- Chair
  • Beatriz Sánchez-Cano, Leicester (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2024
  • Mathew Owens, Reading (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2023
  • Jasmine Sandhu, Northumbria (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2023 -- Vice-Chair
  • Maria-Theresia Walach, Lancaster (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2022
  • Sarah Badman, Lancaster (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to 2022
    (co-opted in 2021 in lieu of outgoing councillor Greg Hunt)

Charter amendment and MIST Council elections open

Nominations for MIST Council open today and run through to 8 August 2021! Please feel free to put yourself forward for election – the voting will open shortly after the deadline and run through to the end of August. The positions available are:

  • 2 members of MIST Council
  • 1 student representative (pending the amendment below passing)

Please email nominations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 8 August 2021. Thank you!

Charter amendment

We also move to amend the following articles of the MIST Charter as demonstrated below. Bold type indicates additions and struck text indicates deletions. Please respond to the email on the MIST mailing list before 8 August 2021 if you would like to object to the amendment; MIST Charter provides that it will pass if less than 10% of the mailing list opposes its passing. 

4.1  MIST council is the collective term for the officers of MIST and consists of six individuals and one student representative from the MIST community.

5.1 Members of MIST council serve terms of three years, except for the student representative who serves a term of one year.

5.2 Elections will be announced at the Spring MIST meeting and voting must begin within two months of the Spring MIST meeting. Two slots on MIST council will be open in a given normal election year, alongside the student representative.

5.10 Candidates for student representative must not have submitted their PhD thesis at the time that nominations close.

Q&A with the MIST Awards Taskforce

By Jasmine Kaur Sandhu

Last year a group of MIST colleagues teamed up and formed the MIST Awards Taskforce. One year on, I report back on what the Taskforce is and what being part of it involved...

Meet the team!

A collage of photos of the MIST Awards Taskforce

Oliver Allanson - Chair of the MIST Awards Taskforce, MIST Councillor, and postdoctoral researcher at Northumbria University. Oliver currently researches kinetic plasma physics of wave-particle interactions in the Earth’s radiation belts.

Maria-Theresia Walach - MIST Councillor and postdoctoral researcher at Lancaster University, researching solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere coupling.

Jonny Rae - Professor at Northumbria University, whose research focuses on substorms, radiation belts, and ULF waves.

Omakshi Agiwal - PhD student at Imperial College London researching magnetospheric dynamics at Saturn.

David Stansby - Postdoctoral researcher at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (University College London), researching the Sun and the solar wind.

Jasmine Kaur Sandhu - Vice-Chair of MIST Council and a postdoctoral researcher at Northumbria University, whose research explores inner magnetospheric dynamics.


What is the MIST Awards Taskforce?


We are a group of 6 UK based MIST scientists, with members of different career stages (from PhD students to professors), and from different institutions. Inspired by the recent work of NASA Space Weather Scientist Liz Macdonald to create a Nominations Task Force within AGU’s SPA section, myself and Jasmine decided to try and create something similar in the MIST community. We solicited for members via the MIST mailing list in September 2019: Maria, Jonny, Omakshi and David all signed up! Jim Wild also worked with us for a time and helped us to shape our working practice. We have been trying to work towards the following aims:

(i) Actively contribute towards equal representation and a diverse range of MIST nominees for national and international awards 

(ii) Recognise and promote the work of overlooked members of the MIST community 

(iii) Provide a means for students and ECRs to gain experience in preparing an effective nomination package

What did being part of the Taskforce involve?


Roughly every month or two we have Skype calls, and in between those we communicate via slack. Agendas, minutes and actions: a familiar recipe! As a first goal we decided to focus on the RAS awards nominations (deadline 31st July 2020). So, this meant conducting as thorough a review of current MIST researchers as we could, and essentially trying to match that up against the different RAS awards and their criteria. Then we leant on, and shared, knowledge and expertise as best we could in order to produce a set of nomination packages that aligned with our aims. For each chosen nominee, we set up supportive mini-groups with their own individual leads to oversee the nomination process. We decided on our set of nominees by mid-February, and then spent the following months preparing the nominations. 

How did the Taskforce choose who to nominate?


This part of the process was probably the most difficult: First, we all came up with suggestions for who to nominate for each award. We tried to consider all members of the community by looking at all the MIST universities and institutions, which helped us to consider as wide a range of researchers as possible. Then we had a few meetings where we discussed the strengths of each potential nominee and decided who to nominate. We decided to base our nominations on which candidates we thought would make the strongest cases. 


During the process of looking at all the UK MIST researchers, it became apparent to us very quickly that there was a diverse range of candidates who were deserving and eligible for each award. It was initially really difficult for us to decide which, or how many, candidates to nominate. In the end, we decided to nominate one candidate per award on behalf of the Taskforce based on who we thought we could make the strongest case for, and for every other eligible candidate from our discussion, we reached out to individual members of the MIST community to encourage them to nominate the aforementioned candidates, and offered our help with the nomination process should they want/need it. 

As well as nominating colleagues, the Taskforce also worked on improving the awards and nomination processes in the future. Can you tell us a bit more about this?


While looking into the awards (RAS/AGU/EGU/COSPAR), we also found that some of the criteria were somewhat unclear and open to interpretation. One of the things we have discussed and started to do as a part of MIST Taskforce is to contact award committees with suggestions of improving their awards descriptions and criteria to encourage a diverse range of nominations for each award, and ensure that we are making the awards as accessible as possible to all members of our scientific community.


One of the things we learned was that we have very little information about the nominations/nominees from previous years, especially the ones that do not convert into awards. This means for example that tracking the diversity of nominations is very difficult and it is something we are actively looking at changing!


Yes, I also feel that it is also up to the awards committees to tell their communities some important statistics of nominations and award winners, with a transparent process where the statistics of award winners and nominees could be tracked. I think that there should be a review from all awards committees on the transparency, inclusive language and statistics for all awards.  We found all sorts of interesting potential problems even in our first year and some of them we’re even making some progress in highlighting to the relevant body and working with them to change this for upcoming years.

Also, a lot of work we did behind the scenes was to discuss the language of individual award calls that were perhaps barriers towards nominating people that were fully deserving of awards but – importantly – we highlighted those problems to the awards committees.  I feel like we have started to help start to change the current awards systems to a more inclusive environment and long may it continue!  

Finally, one idea that one of the committee had was that we perhaps needed more early career awards, which I think would be a hugely positive step.  As a newly appointed Professor, I don’t think that people at my career stage need more recognition and some awards systems are heavily biased to people such as myself and only have one category for early career researchers.  We need to be celebrating the huge amount of excellence and potential our early career colleagues have to change the field for the better!

Why did you join the Taskforce?


Winning an award as an early career researcher can give a great career boost, so it felt like this was also a great way to make a small impact in improving diversity in the wider MIST research community by making sure people who are talented enough to win the awards got nominated.


First of all, I want science to be inclusive and diverse. Second, I also want to help MIST researchers to continue to gain visibility. I think all of that can be helped by representation and in this case, representation starts with a nomination. And third, I wanted to learn a new skill. Writing a nomination is very different to academic writing and it was something completely new to me! There are so many more reasons to join, but in a nutshell being part of the Taskforce team ticked all those boxes for me.


It felt like exactly the right initiative and it happened at exactly the right time. I wanted to make some difference in how we as a community nominated our colleagues, and to help others do the same.

Did you learn or gain anything from this experience?


I learnt so much! I didn’t know anything about awards or the nomination process before joining the Taskforce, and I now have the skills to put together an entire nomination myself (it’s really not as much work as you might think!). On top of that, I’ve learnt so much more about the efforts being made within the MIST community to improve the diversity and visibility in our field, and I feel more well informed and able to take action having been a part of the Taskforce.


Yes. It was clear to see that people are very happy to spend time and energy writing nominations, in support of their colleagues. Quite inspiring! I think that we managed to ‘tap into’ that energy, not just within the Taskforce, but also via recommendations to colleagues around the UK.


For me it was a great exercise in tackling my unconscious biases, and thinking a bit beyond the first names that immediately popped into my head. I definitely learnt that there are lots of people doing great things out there in  the community!


I learned that there are many great researchers in our field, and their excellence goes way beyond their research.


Yes, a lot.  Working with the Taskforce opened my eyes to how a diverse committee will lead to a more diverse set of nominations.  Also more about fields other than my own!

What were the downsides to being part of the Taskforce?


I think it has been a learning process for all of us, and most of us did not know what we were doing to begin with but we all learned fast!


No downsides, only upsides!  One minor downside is that instead of doing my usual thing of nominating at the last minute I had to be organised and do things in good time (which I begrudgingly thank my colleagues for helping me to do! :-) )

What single piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to be part of the Taskforce?


Anybody can write a good nomination with some support, and this is a brilliant skill to learn.


If you feel like some of your colleagues don’t get the recognition that they deserve, get involved!  It doesn’t take nearly as much time as you think and honestly, and it’s fun looking through people’s bios and fully appreciating just how good they are!


Be open-minded and ready to learn.


Give it a go - I had never written an award nomination before, and doing it with some help from everyone else was a great way to learn and get feedback.

Did being part of the Taskforce change your perspective of the awards and nominations process?


In the past, I thought you had to be “of certain calibre” yourself to write a nomination, but this is not true. From the outside it can look a bit daunting and like it is a closed club but I learnt that anyone can write a nomination.


Absolutely. Without considering everyone in a field you can’t test the language used in the award and the process of nomination and understand how limiting that language might be. 

What, if any, changes would you like to see from the MIST community?


I feel like we can all play a role in nominating our colleagues, at all stages of our careers.  I don’t think that is always highlighted by awards committees and I feel like our best nominations this year have come from early career researchers.

Is the Taskforce going to continue for next year and are there going to be any changes?


Our intention is to carry on! We will solicit for new members, and we plan to try and work towards international awards as well as UK-based ones. Let’s see if we can develop and encourage more (and more diverse) nomination packages for UK MIST scientists for AGU, EGU and COSPAR awards. Depending on the number of members that would like to join, then we may have to revisit our working practices. TBC! 

Thanks for reading! If you would like to join the MIST Awards Taskforce or find out more information, then please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!