SUPA – Scottish Universities Physics Alliance

Scotland has a long history of impactful research in the sciences: with renowned physicists including Lord Kelvin, the creator of the Kelvin temperature scale; James Clerk Maxwell, who formulated the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation; and Peter Higgs, proponent of the Higgs-mechanism. SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, exists to build on this legacy and ensure Scotland is major player in Physics worldwide.

SUPA consists of a collaboration between eight universities, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Strathclyde and West of Scotland. Through collaboration across education, infrastructure and research, SUPA ensures Scottish physics is even more than the sum of it’s parts.

SUPA is the largest cluster of physics research and researchers in the UK with over 1200 members, including 600 physics PhD students as well as Post-Doctoral researchers and research staff across the universities. SUPA’s key feature is the Graduate School, which allows PhD students to share lectures and other resources across the university network. SUPA offers over 50 advanced specialist courses in physics, with over 800hrs of lectures via a dedicated network of interactive video classrooms, delivered by an extensive knowledge base of world class researchers from 8 Scottish universities.

SUPA embraces the most fundamental research in astronomy and particle physics through to applied research in materials and photonics, with research organised across seven themes: Particle Physics; Astronomy and Space Science; Nuclear and Plasma Physics; Condensed Matter and Material Science; Photonics; Energy; Physics and Life Sciences.

SUPA encourages and provides links into other disciplines, enterprise, business and industry with focussed initiatives at the interface with the life sciences and energy research. SUPA has close ties with international renowned research organisations like Fraunhofer UK, and the Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh. At the same time SUPA has played an integral role in funding facilities like SCAPA (Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators), and the Centre for Designer Quantum Materials at St Andrews.

SUPA students and researchers are playing a major role in physics research around the world – from an active group working at CERN, as well as ongoing role in gravitational wave research at LIGO. SUPA is working hard to ensure Scotland is training the Maxwells and the Kelvins of the future.


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