MIST

Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial

Latest news

Equitable Letters in Space Physics (ELSP)

Equitable Letters for Space Physics (ELSP) is a project to encourage merit-based recommendations and nominations in the space physics community by providing resources for letter writing and reviews of recommendation and nomination letters. You can learn more about ELSP's mission and find both letter writing and implicit bias resources at the ELSP website.

ELSP seeks to achieve this goal by:

  1. Providing resources for people writing letters of recommendation and award nomination at the undergraduate level and above.
  2. Providing resources for people wishing to learn about different implicit biases and lessen their manifestation.
  3. Providing reviews of recommendation and nomination letters, with the goal of lessening implicit bias in these letters.

At the moment, ELSP is seeking volunteers to participate as reviewers in the letter submission system. This system will function similarly to double-blind journal article reviews, with the ELSP executive director acting as editor.The ELSP board of directors is Angeline G. Burrell; John Coxon; Alexa Halford; McArthur Jones Jr.; and Kate Zawdie. If you have more questions or would like to participate, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Call for proposals for ESA's Living Planet Fellowship

ESA is currently inviting proposals for their Living Planet Fellowship with a deadline of 15 March 2021. These fellowships, worth a maximum of €110k, are intended:

To support young scientists, at post-doctoral level, to undertake cutting-edge research in Earth Observation, Earth System Science or Climate Research, maximising the scientific return of ESA and European EO missions and datasets through the development of novel EO methods, techniques and products, and by delivering excellent scientific results addressing the grand Earth Science challenges of the next decade, enabling improved predictions of the physical interaction of society with the Earth system.

Interested candidates need to propose a two-year-long research plan which contributes to either of the two themes of the fellowship: "Advancing novel methods and techniques" or "Advancing Earth system science". The call also includes opportunities in the use of cloud computing capabilities; to support small ground-based experiments and in situ data collection; and a visiting scientist scheme to join the new ESA Earth System Science Hub.

Questions related to the call can be submitted via email, and must be "not later than two weeks before the Closing Date" (i.e. by the end of February 2021). The timeline for the fellowships is as follows:

Milestone Date
Submission of proposals 15 March 2021 
Communication of results* Q2 2021
Beginning of activities* Q3 2021

*tentative

"Mental Health and Wellbeing in the MIST Community": A series of panel discussions

We are hosting a series of pre-recorded panel discussions on the topic of "Mental Health and Wellbeing in the MIST Community", exploring the sources and impacts within our community as well as discussing ways to move forwards. The discussions will focus on both individual and community-wide perspectives, and will consider perspectives from a range of career stages. The panel discussions will separately focus on views from a) PhD students, b) PDRAs, and c) Tenure positions. 
 
To ensure that the discussion focuses on the needs and issues most important to the MIST Community, we request your input on questions that you would like to pose to the panel, as well as specific topics that you would like to see covered. To suggest questions & topics, please use the following form: https://forms.gle/J4QS5JdaVCo1hF6z7 and submit your suggestions by Friday 26 February. Please note that any responses on the form are completely anonymous.
 
For support with mental health and wellbeing concerns, we recommend the following resources: https://ras.ac.uk/education-and-careers/places-you-can-find-support.
 
If you have any other questions, concerns, or would like to discuss anything in further detail, please get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Seminar: Python tutorial for space physics

The Planetary Science Group at Leicester are hosting a virtual seminar on 27 January 2021 at 14:00. The speaker is Dr Angeline Burrell from the US Naval Research Laboratory and her talk is titled: "Python tutorial for space physics". The seminar will be held on Microsoft Teams (click here to join), and the abstract is below.

Python is a free and open source programming language that is very useful for scientific data analysis.  Many members of the space physics community have developed packages and tools to perform specialised functions commonly used within the community.  In this presentation, I will provide several examples showing how Python can be used to display data, perform common data analysis operations, and perform space physics specific analysis.  I will also go over some basics of responsible programming practices, which are applicable across all languages, and provide resources for learning more about Python, Python in space physics, and good programming practices in general.

Congratulations to the 2021 RAS Award winners

MIST Council would like to extend their congratulations to the 2021 Royal Astronomical Society Award winners.

In particular, we congratulate the following members of the MIST and wider space physics community that have been recognised for their outstanding achievements and contributions:

Winton Award: Dr Julia E. Stawarz, Imperial College London
Chapman Medal: Professor Ineke de Moortel, University of St Andrews
Annie Maunder Medal: Professor Robert Walsh, University of Central Lancashire
Fowler Award: Dr Richard Morton, University of Northumbria
James Dungey Lecture: Dr Karen Aplin, University of Bristol

Further details on all the RAS 2021 award winners can be found on the RAS website.

Small Changes to Improve the Accessibility of Your Science

By Michaela K. Mooney, Divya M. Persaud, George Brydon, and Jasmine K. Sandhu

Michaela, Divya, and George are fourth year PhD students at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL). Michaela studies Earth’s magnetosphere and auroral dynamics, Divya studies planetary geology on Mars using 3D imagery, and George studies techniques and hardware for planetary imaging. Jasmine is a senior research associate at Northumbria University researching inner magnetospheric dynamics.

The key methods we use to communicate our science are presentations, posters and social media. Ensuring that the content we are presenting is accessible to everyone in our audience will increase the impact. We provide some easy tips that we can all implement to make our content more accessible to a wider audience. Although these are just some really simple and easy changes that you can make, there is always more that we can learn - check if your institution offers any training courses for you!

Improve your slides

Many of the ways we can make presentation slides more accessible are generally good practise anyway and can vastly improve the overall quality of a presentation. A really useful guide to designing your presentation slides can be found here. Some key points to remember are:

  • Keep slides simple, use limited spaced out text with one figure or diagram.
  • Use plain light backgrounds and dark contrasting text.
  • Use plain, large font sizes (> 24 pt font) that can easily be seen from the back of the room or from a small laptop screen. This includes text on your figures too, such as axis labels!
  • Take your time to describe and explain all content on your slides, and avoid rushing through slides. 

Figures 1 and 2 below show examples of a good and bad presentation slide layouts.

An image of an example slide. The slide has a simple layout, clear and easy to read font, and a high contrast between the background and text.

Figure 1. An example of an accessible presentation slide.

An image of a slide with a unclear and cluttered design. The contrast between the background and text is low.

Figure 2. An example of an inaccessible presentation slide.

Use captions during presentations

Captions are a simple additional tool we can use which vastly improve accessibility during a talk. Captions are very useful for people who are hard-of-hearing but they can also be useful for audience members who are not native language speakers, and those with dyslexia. For example, a study on student learning reported that more than 90% of students found captions helpful in supporting their learning. Captions are not always perfect, particularly if you have an accent, but they will catch the majority of what you are saying.

PowerPoint, Google Slides, Zoom and Teams all have built-in captions functionality. Click on each platform to learn more about how to use the caption functionalities. Captions in Zoom can also be saved to produce a transcript at the end of a meeting.

If you are using videos in a presentation, try to use videos with captions and audio description. Giving a brief explanation to what the video will show before playing the video helps to provide context to people with visual impairments.

Use colour-blind friendly palettes

Plots, diagrams and figures are the most common tools we use to communicate complex science ideas. Use colour-blind friendly colours to make sure that your figures are accessible to everyone. It’s estimated that around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour-blindness (see NHS report here), so it’s very likely that these changes will benefit someone in your audience! Spectral or rainbow colour maps are commonly used in science, however they are not accessible to any type of colour-blindness [Crameri et al., 2020]. Additionally, our eyes do not respond to all of the colours within these maps equally, making it difficult to interpret the true nature of the data they represent (this is true for people with and without colour-vision deficiency). Instead, use colour maps which are perceptually uniform, meaning that colours are evenly distributed to form a linear colour gradient. Commonly used perceptually uniform colour maps include ‘viridis’ and ‘cividis’. 

Different colours should also have a high contrast, so that they can be easily distinguished. There are plenty of resources online to help you find a suitable colour scheme, such as ColorBrewer and Coolors. You can check whether your colour scheme and content is suitable using a colour-blind simulator of filter (e.g. the Coblis simulator or the Paciello colour contrast checker). It’s also good practice to consider using additional ways to differentiate information, for example using different textures, line styles and annotations. An example of this is shown below in Figure 3, where the use of line styles, symbols, and a legend are essential for those with different forms of colour-blindness (panels b-d) to differentiate between the lines.

A plot showing 4 lines, duplicated using different colour-blindness simulators

Figure 3. An example plot, as shown by those with (a) normal vision and (b-d) forms of colour-blindness.

Social media

Lots of us use social media to promote our work, posting interesting plots, pictures of us giving conference or outreach presentations or highlighting a new publication.

When posting videos on social media try to include captions if possible and if posting plots or images, many platforms such as Twitter provide image description functions which can be used to describe the image (find out how to do that here).

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of accessibility tips. It’s important to recognise that accessibility can mean very different things for different people, and this means that the way that we adapt our approaches can also vary. If you are arranging an outreach event, conference or meeting, do some research around accessibility and consider the accessibility of the venue. Encourage presenters and speakers to also be mindful of accessibility requirements. Creating accessible content is hugely important for outreach events as inaccessible content will actively exclude members of the audience. For open participation events, you may not be aware of specific accessibility requirements ahead of time.

 

Thanks for reading! We’ve listed some helpful resources below:

 

EDIT: Additional Links from the Community

If you have additions to this list then please let us know by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!