About us

Leadership and collaboration at national and international level.


We work on wave processes from the sub-surface solar interior to the solar upper atmosphere (corona) using mathematical modelling and analysis of observational data from satellite-borne and ground-based state-of-the-art instruments.

Many of the physical phenomena SWAT studies are of a basic nature and fundamental to general plasma astrophysics.

Members of SWAT have been especially active in the physical understanding of wave propagation in the near sub-photosphere:

  • Seismology from active regions to global magneto-helioseismology.

  • MHD wave coupling of the solar photosphere to the complex magnetised corona through the chromosphere and transition region, and vice-versa!

  • Diagnostic and dynamic role of MHD waves in inhomogeneous plasmas with applications to solar and magnetosphere waveguides.

  • Developing and applying the tools of coronal seismology.

  • Investigating instabilities in MHD shear flows.


We have built up extensive national collaboration in recent years including

  • Aberysthwyth

  • Armagh

  • Cambridge

  • BiSON

  • Imperial

  • MSSL

  • Manchester

  • St Andrews

  • Warwick, and more


We played a leading role in establishing the series of Joint UKSP-MIST meetings (2002 in Sheffield, 2004 in Edinburgh, 2006 Aberystwyth) and bringing UKSP into the RAS (joint NAM-UKSP meetings at Dublin 2003, Birmingham 2005, Preston 2007, QUB 2008).

We continued to drive the Annual UK Solar Physics meetings - Professor Robert von Fay-Siebenburgen (RvFS), Chairman of UKSP until 2007 and RAS discussion meetings. Professor von Fay-Siebenburgen now represents UKSP on the Scientific Group Panel of the RAS.

These meetings are vital research forums for our PhD students and postdoctoral research associates (PDRAs), and are also excellent opportunities to build up collaborations for active senior members in the UK solar and solar-terrestrial community.


We regularly organise STFC Summer Schools:

  • Introductory in 2003, 2008

  • Advanced Solar 2006

  • International Undergraduate Summer School (IUSS) in 2006, 2007, 2009

Members of SWAT have regularly been invited to give review lectures.

Awards and proposals

We have received a number of Royal Society collaboration awards, eg Russia, Hungary and France, and:

  • British Council support (Belgium).

  • ESA SP award.

  • IAU and IUPAP awards to organise a major IAU Symposium (in 2007).

  • ISSI award (Co-I RvFS).

SWAT is involved (RvFS 3x Co-I) in successful NASA SR&T proposals in collaboration with LMSAL, Lockheed. Within the framework of the Worldwide University Network (WUN) we:

  • run a solar physics network SOPHYN to foster research collaboration in terms of short visits (eg to Oslo, Belgium, Nanjing)

  • are developing a proposal to set up a European postgraduate course in space engineering and space environment

  • are working to have a grid-enabled seminar series.

We were successful (RvFS as Co-I), together with colleagues from QUB, with telescope application times: 3xSST at EU/OPTICON and 3xDST/NSO.

SWAT also uses these excellent observing opportunities for training purposes. Through the EPSRC-funded MAGIC initiative (17 UK HEIs are involved) we run a 20-hour postgraduate course on MHD waves. Dr Ballai was awarded the Nuffield Foundation New Lecturer Award.

Papers and conference talks

SWAT produces a high number of refereed and invited papers; refereed journal papers for the five-year period from 1 January 2004 are summarised on the Publications page.

Members of SWAT gave numerous partially or fully funded invited or contributed talks, chaired sessions and Scientific Organising Committees at major international science conferences:

  • We organised SOHO 13, 18 and played a key role in 19

  • IAUS247

  • ST4 of EGU 2007

  • ST07 of AOGS 2009

  • Mallorca Workshop 2006

  • Royal Society DM 2005

  • RAS DM 2005, 2010

  • Workshops: British Council INYS 2004, 2005 and 2007


The past few years have been highly successful for the Group with SRIF bids as well. As a member of the White Rose Consortium, Professor Robert von Fay-Siebenburgen participated in two successful Sheffield-led bids to SRIF and JREI:

  1. For the establishment of the White Rose Grid.

  2. For the establishment of a high throughput computing grid system.

Also, in association with the UKMHD Consortium, through JREI and SRIF3 funding, the upgrading of a UKMHD computing grid system (2005, 2006 and a 2008-awarded bid with funding level not yet known) was successful.

Visitor programme

We have a vibrant visitor programme to support our visiting scientists whose scientific interests complement the activities of SWAT. Visiting scientists will

  • have a major impact on and carry out important independent quality control of SWAT's work

  • enhance the international reputation and visibility of SWAT

  • undoubtedly promote and help dissemination of the results of SWAT

A number of internationally renowned scientists who wish to visit Sheffield under the programme have been identified. Others may be invited following developments in the research being carried out during the grant period.

A corporate entity

SWAT is a real corporate entity and this is a corporate application with complementary and interlinked elements for support for wave research to be carried out by the Group. Decisions on where to place the resources available are made collectively. Professor von Fáy-Siebenbürgen, Head of SWAT, ultimately has responsibility for allocating resources, reporting through regular management meetings to the group.

The resources are used in the most effective way to maximise SWAT's activities and to have the greatest impact, bearing in mind the needs of the individual themes of research and their work packages (WPs). The names attached to each WP are the staff investigators with responsibility for that area of research.

Staff investigators are strongly encouraged to be involved with more than one theme that emphasises naturally the coherent nature of SWAT. Scientific ideas, plans and results are shared within SWAT and SP²RC.

We hold regular weekly lunchtime meetings, administered by IB, to present papers and to exchange ideas in the form of discussions. The School of Mathematics and Statistics also runs a weekly seminar programme (administered by Professor Michael Ruderman) which features many speakers from areas directly or closely related to the areas covered by SWAT/SP²RC.

Summary of current STFC grants

  1. ST/F002327/1 Standard Grant Support (PI Robert von Fay-Siebenburgen, PDRAs: VF & SS), £611,716.03, 01/07/08 to 30/06/11.

  2. ST/G002207/1 Standard Grant Support (PI Professor Michael Ruderman, PDRA: Un-named), £330,293.36.

  3. Parallel Computing Resources for the UK’s MHD Community, £1,799,605, award not yet announced.

  4. PP/D00229X/1 3D MHD simulations on a parallel Beowulf cluster, £200,000, 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2009.

  5. PP/E001165/1 UKMHD Consortium Support, £59,144, 1 june 2007 to 31 May 2009.

Contact us

Head of group

Professor Róbert von Fáy-Siebenbürgen

Email: Robertus@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 3832

Fax: +44 114 222 3809

Room: H16

Support secretary

Mrs Katherine Greenacre

Email: k.greenacre@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 3803

Fax: +44 114 222 3809

Room: H22