European Solar Community


In spite of the large amount of information available (participant lists, institutional websites, refereed publications, etc.), a census of European solar physicists does not exist. Although initial estimates give a number of about 500 scientists working in the field, there are no statistics about the distribution of researchers per country, the female participation or the level of experience. As part of the activities of the European project GREST (Getting Ready for EST), a first census of the community was carried out. The following report presents the results of a study of the demographics and research interests of the European solar physic community carried out over the spring of 2016.

To reach this achievement, the GREST team prepared an initial list of scientists for each one of the solar research groups identified in Europe, using publicly available information only. Then, the corresponding group heads were asked to complete a breakdown of staff by position, gender and PhD year. Additionally, a questionnaire was distributed to collect information about the research interests of the scientists as well as the interest and expected impact of EST on their research projects.




Summary of results 

  • A total of 615 researchers have been identified in 22 European countries.
  • Nine countries concentrate more than 80% of the solar community.
  • The proportion of female staff is 27%, although this proportion seems to improve with youth of the researchers.
  • Among the solar community there is a 52% of senior scientists, 26% of post-docs and 22% of PhD students.
  • The most popular areas within solar physics amongst the European solar community are atmosphere (12.9%), magnetic fields (12.7%), flares (8.3%), corona (7.8%) and chromosphere (7.4%).
  • More than 80% of the solar community considers the scientific interest of EST is either “Extremely Important” or “Very Important”. Moreover, around 90% of the respondents think their research lines will “Definitely” or “Probably” benefit from EST observations. 
  • About 41% of all refereed publications in solar physics during the period 2005-2015 count with the participation of European researchers.


See the executive summary.