Terms of reference


PWASC: Terms of Reference


The establishment of the Plasma Wakefield Accelerator Steering Committee (PWASC) is motivated by the worldwide success and growth of the plasma wakefield accelerator area, and its transformative and enabling impact for applications across various areas of natural, material and life sciences. The last years have shown that there is a strongly increasing activity in the field, and at the same time the maturity of underpinning technology continues to advance at rapid pace. The global growth of plasma wakefield accelerator R&D and increasing international investment and competition requires the development of a coherent and sustainable plan for national collaboration in order to maintain and further the UK’s lead in the field. This area is inherently of cross-Research Council remit which implies an especially broad approach. The need to increase coordination, collaboration and investment is highlighted for example by the UK Accelerator Review Panel Report 2014; and is strongly supported by the Accelerator Strategy Board ASB. Along with EPSRC-funded activities, plasma acceleration is now a major pillar also in the R&D of the UK Accelerator Institutes, the Cockcroft Institute and the John Adams Institute, who support the formation of the PWASC. 

Experimental research in the UK on plasma wakefield acceleration continues to be undertaken at the Central Laser Facility (CLF), complemented by major university centres such as the Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) and various leading university groups, and is enhanced by opportunities for particle beam-driven plasma accelerators at ASTeC/Daresbury Laboratory. 

UK groups further have leadership roles in international plasma wakefield accelerator projects such as at CERN, SLAC, DESY, ELI, within EuPRAXIA and others.

At a community-wide meeting at CLF in 02/2016, the formation of a UK-wide Plasma Wakefield Accelerator Steering Committee (PWASC) was decided. A first constituting meeting of the PWASC took place at Daresbury Laboratory in 07/2016. The following Terms of Reference describe the role, charge and goals of the PWASC in the UK landscape, and the modus operandi of the PWASC in order to reach these goals. Both may be revised to adapt best as possible to the evolving national and international landscape and challenges. The PWASC is charged by the wider UK plasma accelerator Community and reports to this Community.


Terms of reference

  • Maintain an overview of activities within the area
  • Develop a coherent strategy and roadmap for the development and application of plasma acceleration in the UK
  • Consider international roadmaps and implications of large international projects and developments in the field
  • Initiate joint activities and actions supporting the goals on the UK roadmap, and to support growth of the field in the UK
  • Identify opportunities for, and support coordination of, research proposals to national and international Research Councils and agencies
  • Prepare for windfall funding opportunities, including prioritisation considerations
  • Explore additional innovative funding and collaboration mechanisms
  • Inform and support Research Councils in the development of targeted funding calls
  • Support Research Councils with assessment and review processes, calls for evidence etc.
  • Increase awareness of grant applications and success ratios at various Research Councils, with the aim of supporting Research Council understanding of the fundamental underpinning impact and further growth of the area  

Guiding principles and initial Modus Operandi

Several requirements and guiding principles were identified in order to ensure proper functioning of the PWASC. The Committee:

  • Shall represent the whole community
  • Shall be of a manageable size
  • Shall foster collaboration between different groups across the UK
  • Shall be an independent body, capable to provide a cross-national viewpoint
  • Shall be inclusive and have flat hierarchy
  • Shall support growth of the field by being open to include further organisations as members

The Committee as of 2016 is composed of one representative each from:

UK universities:

  • Imperial College London
  • Queens University Belfast
  • University College London
  • University of Lancaster
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Oxford
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of York

Other institutions:

  • Central Laser Facility CLF
  • Accelerator Science and Technology Centre ASTeC
  • STFC Accelerator Strategy Board (if possible, in dual role with being a Committee representative e.g. from a university)

An initial modus operandi is as follows:

  • Meetings with representatives from each member organisation are to be held every 3-6 months along with more frequent meetings as necessary, e.g. when focusing on roadmap development efforts, joint R&D programme development efforts etc.
  • Each member organization has one seat on the Committee, and each member organization has full authority in determining the representative.
  • In order to find a proper balance between continuity and rotation, it is expected that representatives will serve for a duration of ~3 years.
  • Each representative is responsible for proper communication and discussions with their colleagues at their home organization.
  • Members should act not primarily as stakeholders of their research groups and organisations, but be committed to Community growth and progress.
  • A proper mix of senior and junior academics as Committee members shall be achieved.
  • Special working groups may be formed by the PWASC to tackle e.g. preparation of programme grants. Such working groups would be formed for a specific purpose and for an agreed duration, and could include members from outside the PWASC.
  • The meetings shall ideally be face-to-face meetings. If a representative cannot attend a meeting, then the following options exist (in order of decreasing preference): (i) Nomination of another Committee member to act as a proxy; (ii) Substitution by a member of the same organisation (e.g. home university); (iii) Attendance by video link. If a representative cannot attend a meeting, the Committee members shall be informed as early as possible in advance of the meeting.
  • The meetings shall take place at rotating locations, e.g. cycling through the member organisations.
  • The meetings shall be organised by: a Chair, who is responsible to develop the meeting agenda and to lead through the programme during the meeting; a Deputy Chair & Secretary, who is responsible to take the minutes and circulate the draft and final minutes; a Host, who is responsible for arranging the practical details of the meeting.
  • Chair and Deputy Chair & Secretary shall be different persons.
  • Chair and Deputy Chair & Secretary, and Host shall rotate through the member organisations.
  • The Chair and Deputy Chair & Secretary  shall be determined from within the Committee for a period of two years. This is in agreement with the expectation that the membership of each person in the Committee is expected to change in a three year cycle.
  • The Chair and Deputy Chair & Secretary are jointly responsible for ensuring that there is proper communication with the wider UK Community, e.g. via generation of newsletters, maintenance of website, organisation of wider Community meetings etc.
  • The Chair shall act as contact person e.g. for relevant bodies outside the Committee who want to get in touch, which otherwise may be unsure who of the Committee to contact in first instance. This role as a contact person for new relevant organisations and bodies shall not sideline any existing channels of communication e.g. to Research Councils.
  • The Committee shall be a flat organisation. The selection of a Deputy Chair & Secretary   shall not generate a (perceived) preponderance of a specific group of the UK Community. For example, the Chair and Deputy Chair & Secretary do not have any extended voting rights. A broad distribution of tasks across the Committee and the wider Community shall be achieved, reflecting the Committee as a Community-driven instrument.
  • The agenda and minutes shall be sent out in timely manner as follows: (i) The Chair shall circulate a draft agenda at least 2 weeks before meeting date; (ii) The Deputy Chair & Secretary shall circulate draft minutes within two weeks of the meeting date; (iii) Committee members shall circulate the draft minutes to relevant colleagues within their respective organisation for comment and further input; (iv) After any correction and revision, the final minutes shall then be circulated among the Committee members no later than 4 weeks after the meeting date.
  • The location, Host and approximate date for the next meeting(s) shall be decided during the PWASC meeting. The Host is then responsible for organising the exact date of the next meeting within four weeks.  
  • Meeting dates should preferably be held shortly before ASB meetings (weak boundary condition). The ASB member on the PWASC is responsible to communicate important findings and activities to the ASB.
  • In addition to the circulation of key actions to the wider UK plasma community (e.g. by email, newsletter and/or website) regular meetings with the whole UK plasma accelerator community should be held, e.g. once a year, to present the work of the PWASC and to discuss certain important matters in a wider circle.