Forecasting Solar Energetic Particle Risk for Space Weather

Supervisor: Dr. Timo Laitinen

Applications are invited for a PhD (via MPhil) studentship in the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, within the School of Natural Sciences. The studentship is funded through the UCLan Doctoral Training Centre for Industry Collaboration and is tenable for up to 3.5 years full time [subject to satisfactory progress]. Both Home and EU/International Applicants may apply but EU/International Applicants will be required to pay the difference in tuition fees between the UK and EU/International fee rates. The studentship will provide successful applicants with an annual stipend in line with UKRI rates (Currently £18,622 per year), subject to satisfactory progress.

It is expected the successful applicant will commence September 2024. 

Project Description:

The Jeremiah Horrocks Institute (JHI, at the University of Central Lancashire is currently seeking candidates for a 3.5-year PhD project on Forecasting Solar Energetic Particle risk for Space Weather. The successful candidate will work with the Solar Group at the JHI, as well as with personnel at the Met Office Space Weather Operation Centre (MOSWOC).

Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) are ions and electrons accelerated during solar eruptions, up to relativistic energies. As they reach Earth, they pose a radiation risk to spacecraft instrumentation and humans in space and at aviation altitudes. To mitigate this risk, the Solar Group at JHI has developed a physics-based SEP forecasting tool, SPARX, which uses simulations of the propagation of SEPs in the turbulent interplanetary space to predict their arrival at Earth, and to evaluate the Space Weather hazard they may cause.

The successful candidate will work on developing SPARX to include an improved description of interplanetary turbulence which takes into account SEP propagation perpendicular to the mean interplanetary magnetic field.  They will also analyse SEP event observations in order to investigate the significance of different physical processes on the accuracy of the SEP forecasts. The improved model is foreseen to replace the initial version of SPARX installed at MOSWOC, and the successful candidate will participate in the process, interacting with the MOSWOC Space Weather forecasters.

Further information

Informal project related enquiries about the post can be made to Timo Laitinen (

For the full details go to:

Applications should be completed on our online application system, selecting the following options:

  • Type of Study – Research Degree (Postgraduate)
  • Course – Master of Philosophy/Doctor of Philosophy
  • Campus – Preston Campus
  • Mode of Study – Full Time

Please quote the Studentship reference number DTC12-22-34 on the online application form.

Closing Date: 11th March 2024

Proposed Interview Date: TBC

Expected Start Date: September 2024


Pic caption: Solar Energetic Particles, accelerated near the Sun during solar eruptions, follow the turbulently meandering magnetic field lines before reaching Earth.