Communications, EPO and Training Coordinators for LSST:UK

The LSST:UK Consortium is seeking volunteers to coordinate teams organising the Consortium’s Communications, Education & Public Outreach, and Training activities. All three Coordinator roles are available from Autumn 2021 for a period of three years, in the first instance. This term will cover Rubin Observatory commissioning and the start of Rubin LSST operations (currently expected to begin in late 2023), culminating in agreement of plans for activities in each of the three areas in preparation for Rubin LSST Data Release 1 (due by the end of 2024).

All three positions will be appointed by the LSST:UK Consortium Board on the recommendation of selection panels chaired by Alastair Edge (Board Deputy Chair) and including experts in each area who have been identified as free from personal or institutional conflicts of interest on the basis of Expressions of Interest submitted by likely applicants. The timeline for this process will be as follows:

  • 25 June 2021: Publication of this Call.

  • 30 July 2021 (16.00BST): Submission deadline for Expressions of Interest for the three Coordinator positions. These should be emailed in PDF format to the LSST:UK Project Managers (lusc_pm@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk) and should contain: (a) the name and institutional affiliation of the applicant; (b) the position to be applied for; and (c) a short (100-200 word) summary of relevant experience and motivation for applying for the position.

  • Mid-August 2021: Invitations to submit full applications will be issued to those who have submitted Expressions of Interest. Details of the requirements of the application will be provided along with the invitation, but it is intended to be a lightweight process.

  • Mid-September 2021 (date TBC): Submission deadline for full applications.

  • October 2021: Interviews for the three Coordinator positions.

In accordance with the LSST:UK Equality and Diversity Statement, applications are particularly encouraged from those who would increase the diversity of the LSST:UK leadership team. Applicants may apply for more than one of the Coordinator roles, but it is expected that different people will be appointed to each.

Informal enquiries about the roles or the appointment process may be emailed to the LSST:UK Project Leader, Bob Mann (rgm@roe.ac.uk) or the selection panel chair, Alastair Edge (alastair.edge@durham.ac.uk).

Role Descriptions

The following role descriptions outline the background to, and current expectations of, the three Coordinator positions, but it is expected that all three post-holders will develop the detailed specification of their roles during the course of their terms, as the working relationships with the various external stakeholders become clearer.

Communications Coordinator

The role of the Communication Coordinator offers an exciting opportunity to develop and lead a diverse and wide-ranging communication strategy for LSST:UK activities. This includes managing internal and external communications and coordinating with Rubin Observatory events by building a team of volunteers.

The team will be able to develop a communication strategy to promote both the day-to-day activities and flagship events of the collaboration. Given the enormous discovery potential of the Rubin Observatory, we are likely to see a series of press releases, including those originating from the Science Collaborations, that will require coordination between the multiple UK and international institutions. This will require coordination with Science Collaborations, institutional contacts in the UK (e.g. relevant university press offices) and, in some cases, press offices at the STFC and the RAS (such as for the NAM).

The communication team should be able to plan ahead for such releases and create processes that will deliver an effective strategy to target appropriate communication channels. These can range from traditional media to social media campaigns. The communication strategy will likely also involve media monitoring and being able to deliver timely responses to media enquiries, whilst actively tracking and acting upon opportunities for proactive engagement.

Coordinating external communication campaigns offers a unique opportunity to grow and promote principles of equality, diversity and inclusion by offering training and support to enable all members of the diverse LSST:UK community to effectively disseminate their work.

The communications team will also be able to work closely with the LSST:UK Executive Group to develop and implement a proactive internal communications strategy around preparing engaging and informative monthly Newsletters and maintaining a vibrant LSST:UK website (http://www.lsst.ac.uk ) that will inspire collaboration members to take action.

 


Education and Public Outreach Coordinator

The Rubin Observatory will operate an extensive Education and Public Outreach programme, developing resources aimed at four target audiences: the General Public; Formal Educators; Planetariums and Informal Science Centres; and Citizen Science Researchers. The primary task for the LSST:UK EPO Coordinator is to lead the development and implementation of a plan (to be agreed with the LSST:UK Consortium Board) that will maximise the benefit that the UK community can derive from the resources being developed by the Rubin EPO programme.

That is likely to require a prioritisation of those target audiences informed by existing UK public engagement strategies and their associated funding schemes (primarily those offered by STFC). STFC Science Board decided that EPO activities could not be supported through the LSST:UK Science Centre (LUSC) Phase B grants awarded through PPRP, and, while we will revisit this position before submitting the Phase C proposal, it seems likely that the EPO Coordinator position itself must be supported through funds secured by the EPO Coordinator (through, for example, STFC Public Engagement grants). Dedicated funding secured from UK sources is likely to be modest - certainly in comparison to that supporting the Rubin EPO programme - so the EPO Coordinator will also have to leverage existing funding streams and the willingness of the LSST:UK community to contribute to EPO activities.

The EPO Coordinator will be responsible for the details of the LSST:UK EPO plan, but it is intended that its implementation will see provision of a range of online services for selected target audiences that will raise the profile of the Rubin Observatory and UK participation in LSST, and provide a platform for LSST:UK researchers to engage with the wider community, as citizen scientists, learners and interested members of the general public. It is expected that this will largely involve re-use of materials developed by the Rubin EPO team - possibly tailored for a UK audience - but the plan should also take advantage of local expertise and existing public engagement resources to maximise the output from what will inevitably be a modestly-resourced programme. A number of Consortium members have already expressed interest in being involved in an LSST:UK EPO programme, so the Coordinator will bring together a team, coordinating their voluntary effort and working with them to secure additional grant funding.

At the request of the Rubin Observatory, a work package providing development and maintenance of EPO software by the Zooniverse team at Oxford was included in the UK’s in-kind proposal. This has been funded for the remainder of Phase B and further funding will be sought for the whole operational lifetime of the Rubin LSST survey, providing the UK with a significant role in Rubin LSST EPO activities and a beneficial nucleus around which to develop some of the UK-specific EPO activities.

The LSST:UK EPO coordinator need not be directly linked to the Zooniverse project, but will need to work with the Oxford team and a range of other stakeholders, including: the Rubin Education and Public Outreach Programme; the STFC Public Engagement team; and the LSST:UK Consortium. Advice can be provided by the LUSC Executive Group and practical guidance on LSST data products and computational support can be sought from the UK DAC team.

An overview of the Rubin EPO programme can be found in EPO Design document.


Training Coordinator

Full exploitation of the multi-PB Rubin LSST dataset will require statistical and computational expertise not currently possessed by all members of the UK astronomical community, as well as detailed knowledge of the data products and analysis tools provided by the Rubin Observatory. The LSST:UK Consortium, therefore, wants a Training Coordinator to aid the wider development of that expertise within the UK community.

The post-holder will be responsible for developing and implementing a training plan, which is likely to comprise both aiding the development of expertise in use of LSST-specific tools and more general education in relevant techniques and technologies. Much of the material required for both strands of activity will be available from other sources, so a large element of this role will be collating and advertising existing resources, rather than developing and delivering new material, and it is expected that the Training Coordinator will draw upon the knowledge and help of other members of the LSST:UK community who are already participating in such activities.

For example, the Rubin Observatory Community Engagement Team (CET) is developing its own LSST-specific training plan around the series of three Rubin LSST Data Previews, which will be accompanied by a range of workshops and online material for both self-paced learning, so a key task for the Training Coordinator will be to engage with the CET and ensure that the UK community benefits fully from the Data Preview programme. More specific informal training is being provided within the Science Collaborations - e.g. the Dark Energy Science Collaboration has been running pedagogical seminars on various analysis techniques - so the post-holder should liaise with the LSST:UK Points of Contact for each Science Collaboration to ensure that UK data rights holders are aware of the range of opportunities open to them. A wide range of more general tutorials in data science tools and techniques can be sourced through bodies like the Alan Turing Institute, the Software Sustainability Institute and the STFC-funded Centres for Doctoral Training in Data-Intensive Science, which also run relevant events.

This role will, therefore, involve liaison with a range of stakeholders. Advice can be provided by the LUSC Executive Group and practical guidance on LSST data products and computational support can be sought from the UK DAC team, who may also support UK-specific training events. No financial support for the Training Coordinator role is available during LUSC Phase B, and significant funding for the position is likely to be available only through successful grant applications: for example, the growing European involvement in Rubin LSST would motivate proposals to Horizon Europe training network calls.

Information about Data Preview 0 can be found on the Rubin Community site (https://community.lsst.org/tag/dp0 )