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Machine Learning for Science Programmer - Industrial Placement

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering.

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a different specialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for placement students with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these. 

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a world-leading centre for research at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. Our suite of neutron and muon instruments gives unique insights into the properties of materials on the atomic scale.
We are part of the global research structure, providing tools for over 2,000 scientists a year to use our suite of 32 instruments. Our science spans a wide range of disciplines, from magnetism to cultural heritage, engineering to food science, and chemistry to environmental science.

The reflectometry group specialises in investigating thin film structures on the nanometre length-scale. We have a diverse range of research interests, from synthetic biology, through to polymers, batteries, surfactants and magnetic materials for next generation computers.

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities

The position will involve developing and applying convolutional neural networks to neutron data and data processing, specifically reflectivity data. During the course of an experiment there are many steps which currently require expertise, usually in the form of the instrument scientist. Since expertise comes from experience it should be possible to train neural networks to carry out a number of these tasks.

The purpose of this position is to find out what the limits of machine learning are in this context and to then create tools which can be used on the beamlines to make data collection, data processing or data fitting easier.

The work will start with a few current problems which we believe can be solved, but is open ended. A large amount of freedom will be given, so that if the successful candidate wishes to pursue a particular research avenue they will have the ability to do so.

Coding will be done in Python using Tensorflow, but additional packages may be used if desired. Regular meetings and presentations will be part of the role, as will any training required.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.


  • At university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry (S)
  • Right to live and work in the UK (S)
  • Coding experience in Python (note that for shortlisting a short coding task will be set ~1 hour) (S&I)
  • Current performance at university is upper second class or higher (S)
  • High level of written and spoken English (B2 or higher equivalent level) (S&I)


  • Experience using TensorFlow or another machine learning package (S&I)
  • Studying for a degree in physical sciences or computer science preferred, though outstanding candidates from other course will be considered (S)

Machine Learning for Science Programmer - Industrial Placement - IRC250892

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More about this vacancy

Number of vacancies: 
Up to 5