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The Measure of our Success 2022

We safeguard the future and inspire the next generation

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Apprentices and work experience

We continue to invest in apprenticeships across NPL and in 2022 had 30 apprentices across science, engineering, measurement science and business administration programmes, filling our talent pipeline for the future. 

In 2022 we hosted two students on the Government-led kick starter programme, which offers young people claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement.

NPL Academy was rebooted post-pandemic as a week-long online work placement, providing 47 students with work experience in 8 areas of science and business. We increased our national reach, with participants taking part from all over the UK.  

We hosted 100 civil service colleagues from the Government's Science and Engineering Fast Stream programme.

“I love working at NPL because of the brilliant diversity and culture that resonates throughout the staff. There are so many rewarding aspects to being a scientist at NPL, but the one that stands out above all is knowing what a massive impact the work we are doing is making around the world!”
Katie Obee, Junior Science Apprentice, Dimensional Metrology


The first ever Glazebrook Apprentice Award

Saskia Burke, Assistant Research Scientist was the first recipient of the Glazebrook Apprentice Award for her ability to process complex theory and apply this practically, as well recognition for the wide variety of outreach activities she has immersed herself in since joining NPL.


Pete Thompson and Penny Owen awarding Saskia Burke

Postgraduate Institute – new students and increased collaborations

In 2022 students transitioned into a post-pandemic world of blended physical and digital engagement, delivering critical measurement solutions to diverse global challenges:

  • 34 new students were recruited

  • Collaborations with 33 UK universities
  • The PGI partnered with six new companies and generated over £150k of new cash contribution. As a result, 37% of student projects are currently partnered with industry
  • The PGI launched a collaborative EngD programme with the University of Manchester successfully recruiting 7 students in 2022.

The range of destinations of PGI alumni include:

  • 40% industry
  • 23% academia
  • 20% NPL

A year in the PGI 2022

Postgraduate Institute for measurement science

PGI students at an event PGI students at an event

Hear from our PGI Alumni

Rachel Clark - PGI alumni“Over three years in the PGI I’ve attended a wide range of events, including workshops on practical and personal skills development, technical training, and also had the opportunity to present my work at the annual conference. It’s been wonderful to connect with a wide network of students working on a diverse range of scientific applications that are all linked by metrology.”
Rachel Clark, Postgraduate Researcher from Cardiff University


Read Rachel's pioneering through quantum computing project

International impact

During 2022 we launched a programme of collaboration with two international partners, the University of São Paulo and INMETRO in Brazil.

“[The PGI] has provided me with valuable metrology knowledge and the chance to be involved in an international research project related to my PhD. I feel confident to bring the acquired skills and knowledge back to my country.”  Renán Quijano, talking about the skills he developed as a postgraduate researcher and how they could be implemented to benefit his native country, Mexico.

"The PGI is shaping collaborative research and providing a portal for PhD engagement that is inclusive, sustainable and agile to partners across the globe." Dr Peter Thompson, Chief Executive Officer

Feature: Published papers, conferences and joint academic positions

Disseminating information about new results and sharing our original research with other scientists is essential for the evolution of science.

  • Over 385 papers by NPL scientists were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • 90% of publications were co-authored with external collaborators
  • 64% of publications were co-authored with overseas collaborators
  • 23% of papers had industrial co-authors
  • 132 NPL staff were invited to give talks or presentations to organisations, conferences or universities
  • 133 NPL staff have joint academic positions in universities or research institutions.


Awarded prestigious Roberto Sorrentino Prize

Xiaobang ShangDr Xiaobang Shang, Senior Research Scientist, was awarded the highly prestigious Roberto Sorrentino Prize, which recognises an outstanding young professional who has distinguished technical achievements within the microwave field.

Read news story about Dr Xiaobang Shang

Key papers published in 2022

Optical interferometry-based array of seafloor environmental sensors using a transoceanic submarine cable

Helen MargolisHelen Margolis, Head of Science, Time and Frequency and Senior NPL Fellow: “This is a disruptive new technique that transforms existing submarine cables into arrays of environmental sensors. It has the potential to revolutionise monitoring of the Earth by real-time and continuous acquisition of environmental data from the bottom of seas and oceans for the first time.”

Download the paper

Error, reproducibility and uncertainty in experiments for electrochemical energy technologies

Fernando CastroFernando Castro, Head of Science for Materials: “This is the first publication to discuss uncertainty and reproducibility in electrochemical measurements, providing a metrology-led perspective on best practice for measurements that are often challenging to reproduce quantitatively.”

Download the paper

Versailles project on advanced materials and standards (VAMAS) interlaboratory study on measuring the number concentration of colloidal gold nanoparticles

Alex ShardAlex Shard, Departmental Head of Science, Chemical & Biological Sciences: “The extraordinary response to this study exemplifies the pressing need for establishing best practice in the measurement of colloidal number concentration, which is crucial to evaluating the efficiency of a manufacturing process, monitoring batch-to-batch variability, performing risk assessments and developing the next generation of products.”

Download the paper

Encouraging young scientists through outreach

NPL’s Outreach programme delivers an exciting range of activities to support the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) agenda. As we transitioned out of the pandemic, online activities continued to reach broad audiences, but we were also able to return to face-to-face activities which enabled quality connections with students from schools and colleges.

656 NPL people (41% of which were women) enabled 17 online and 109 in-person visits to schools, science fairs and other public engagement activities.
Over the course of the year, our activities reached over 33,000 people.

NPL staff member carrying out liquid nitrogen experiment

Outreach highlights

  • NPL’s annual Water Rocket Challenge had the highest ever attendance with 36 school teams and 35 clubs and companies joining the evening community event, raising money for local scouts.
  • To mark the Platinum Jubilee, 4,000 students from 72 schools joined a webinar with NPL scientists describing their use of platinum in many areas of metrology.
  • We supported the Institute of Physics’ highly successful Quantum on the Clock Challenge which received 120 video entries from students describing aspects of quantum science.

Student using phone to play keeper of measurements app

Read more about Outreach at NPL

World Metrology Day: NPL in the digital era

Our scientists and engineers are supporting the UK’s digital journey, supporting innovation and improving the quality of our lives using measurement science. In this video, you'll hear from apprentices, scientists and our CEO on our history, who we are and what we do today.

Number two STEM ambassador in London for outreach engagements 

Andrew Hanson

Andrew Hanson MBE, Outreach Manager was number 2 in London for number of engagements, and number 3 for number of volunteering hours over the last 12 months.



“We couldn’t continue to support schools and community groups without you.”
Jess Bill, Project Officer,
London STEM Ambassador Hub


Outreach feedback

“This is outreach at its best” – ARK Academy “[I] hadn’t really thought about it, but now I really want to do science when I grow up.” – Westbourne Primary school, Sutton

"I had a wonderful evening at the NPL water rocket competition.  I will remember the feeling of fun, community and friendly competition whilst filling up water rockets.  Thank you for the amazing experience” Matilda

water rockets event

Open Day 2022: showcasing the impact of science

NPL opened its doors to the public to celebrate World Metrology Day on May 20th.

450 staff members welcomed 2,725 visitors to our Teddington site with 59 exhibits on view, from laboratories to a stand on NPL’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and the ever popular liquid nitrogen demonstration.  Visitors rated the open day an average of 4.5/5 stars

“A fantastic way to communicate what NPL does and promote science in general. I have a myriad physics questions and to be able to ask a PhD about their topic is a joy”

“The whole experience was exceptional. Everybody involved at NPL including gate security, catering, scientific staff etc. went out of their way to be helpful and informative”

“Excellent event, inspiring! Convinces you that NPL’s metrology is fundamental to a great deal of UK and international science”

Andrew Hanson giving a workshop on importance of metrology to audience at NPL open day

Championing diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are critical to our vision to deliver extraordinary impact and be an exemplary national laboratory that employs people from around the world. In 2022, NPL launched a 5-year strategy, which sets out our plans to extend and embed activities across the organisation in a meaningful and impactful way and help identify new opportunities to ensure that all people are supported to succeed.

We became a signatory of the Race at Work Charter, an initiative to support businesses to collectively commit to improving opportunities for those from minority ethnic backgrounds.

We successfully renewed our Institute of Physics Project Juno Practitioner accreditation, which recognises action taken to address the underrepresentation of women in physics and encourages better practice for men and women.  

Renewed focus on convening key players and delivering impact

Emma HaynesEmma Haynes leads a new Partnerships Directorate and explains: “NPL’s Partnerships Directorate convenes and develops enduring, challenge-focused collaborations to address national and global problems to support the development of critical technologies and maximise the impact from science. Focusing on priority innovation challenges, 2022 saw us deliver major programmes of work to create impact across the UK.”

Penny owen awarded the 1st prize winners at water rockets 2023 Penny owen awarded the 1st prize winners at water rockets 2023

NPL’s impact on society

In 2022 we established a newly formed ESG directorate focused on driving future environmental, societal and governance initiatives. Initial priorities were to develop an environmental strategy and establish a strengthened assurance capability.

NPL offered fast-track employment opportunities to suitable candidates who fled Ukraine to find safety in another country. The Ukraine employment support scheme resulted in 2 placements within NPL and advice for around 100 candidates on CVs, relocation and interviews.

Awarded the IoP Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize 

Peter Thompson

Dr Peter Thompson, CEO, was awarded the 2022 IOP Richard Glazebrook medal and prize for outstanding leadership of the NPL and the sustained impact of metrology on UK prosperity and quality of life.

Read more about our CEO

National Physical Laboratory building National Physical Laboratory building

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