Blog posts

ESE Spotlight: Banusha Kugabalan on stress and shock effects in rock magnetism

Picture of Banusha, next to her picture, her title: PhD candidate

Banusha Kugabalan is a PhD candidate at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial. Her work revolves around stress signals in rocks, that occur after ‘shock events’ (like meteorite impacts and earthquakes) causing the magnetic minerals in rocks to align with the magnetic field and record the stress field.

Researchers like Banusha can study magnetic signatures to learn about past impacts and earthquakes on Earth and other planets.

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ESE Spotlight: Mark Boyd on tiny dust grains across space and Earth

Picture of Mark Boyd, next to his picture, his title: Planetary Science PhD candidate
Mark Boyd is a PhD candidate at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial. He studies tiny, spherical dust grains found in space and on Earth. These ‘microspherules’ hold clues to help us better understand ancient environments and climates.

In this ESE blog post, Mark tells us more about what inspired him to pursue his PhD and shares his hopes for the potential of his research.

Describe your PhD project in a tweet:

I study the tiny to understand the huge – micro-sized, spherical dust grains (including extra-terrestrial material called micrometeorites) that hold clues about planetary and environmental processes.

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ESE Spotlight: Amelie Roberts on the hunt for past life on Mars

Picture of Amelie Roberts, next to her title: Planetary Science PhD candidate
Meet Amelie Roberts, a passionate PhD candidate at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial. She is studying the processes that shaped ancient Mars to unearth clues about its past habitability. Using a blend of rover exploration and satellite analysis, Amelie’s research will help us better understand the Red Planet (and our own!) and whether it was once able to harbour life.

In this ESE blog post, Amelie takes us on a journey through her academic journey so far, sharing her motivations, advice, and insights into her experience as a planetary scientist on the frontier of discovery.

Describe your PhD project in a tweet:

I explore ancient environments on Mars by analysing sedimentary deposits using rovers and satellites.

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ESE Spotlight: Sandra Alarcón, Metals and Energy Finance MSc student

Profile picture of Sandra Alarcon Escobar, Metals and Energy Finance MSc student.
Sandra is completing an MSc in Metals and Energy Finance at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial. With more than a decade of experience in the natural resources and energy sectors, she joined Imperial in October 2023, after being awarded the BMO Scholarship for Women in Metals and Energy Finance.

This Scholarship has been offered by ESE for nine consecutive years and provides financial aid to help students who demonstrate exceptional academic merit and/or potential continue with their studies, and support equality, diversity, and inclusion by helping these students get on a path to success.

In this interview, we find out more about Sandra’s experience at Imperial so far, her career journey, what led her to the MSc in Metals and Energy Finance, and her advice for students thinking of applying for the course next year.

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ESE Spotlight: Mandy Li, Metals and Energy Finance MSc alumna

Picture of Mandy Li from graduation, alumna from the Metals and Energy Finance MSc.

Mandy Li completed an MSc in Metals and Energy Finance at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial, where she developed technical and financial skills that apply to the appraisal of mining and energy projects.

She was awarded the Women in Mining UK scholarship for Women in Metals and Energy Finance in 2021, and she is currently working as an Analyst at Resource Capital Funds. In this blog post, we find out more about Mandy’s experience at Imperial, and how it helped her in her career journey.

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ESE Spotlight: Dr Joel Davis on the geology of Mars

A picture of Joel Davis next to the text 'Joel Davis, Lecturer in Planetary Science'

Dr Joel Davis is a Lecturer in Planetary Science at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE). As a planetary geologist, Joel studies different planetary surface processes, but his major focus is the geology of Mars.

He seeks to understand ancient and modern geological environments on the red planet – to uncover when and how quickly the climate in Mars ‘dried out’, leading it to become ‘hyperarid’. His research also focuses on different arid environments on Earth, how climate change is affecting them, and how these can be used as an analogue for other planets.

Joel is involved in several ongoing and upcoming space missions for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), including NASA’s Curiosity rover, the HiRISE and CaSSIS instruments – two high-resolution cameras, 400 km above the surface of Mars. He is also a Co-Investigator for the PanCam instrument on the ESA’s upcoming ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover mission.

In this blog post, Joel tells us more about himself, his research interests and why he decided to join ESE.

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ESE Spotlight: Dr Gege Wen on the intersection of AI and Earth science

Gege Wen profile picture next to her title: Lecturer in AI & Machine Learning

Dr Gege Wen recently joined the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) as a Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. Co-appointed by I-X, Gege’s research focuses on computational methods and solutions for Earth and environmental science problems, to help fulfil society’s energy needs and transition toward a low-carbon future.

She specialises in sustainable subsurface energy storage, CO2 geological storage, and machine learning for scientific computing. In this blog post, we explore Gege’s interests and find out more about what led her to Imperial.

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Can virtual reality help tackle accessibility barriers in Earth science?

Students wearing red helmets gather in a circle around their notebooks during fieldwork.

Fieldtrips are a cornerstone in geology pedagogy. Traditionally, studying a degree in Earth Science involves travelling to different locations, often abroad, to study rocks and landscapes first-hand.

“Outdoor fieldtrips give students the chance to examine rocks, landscapes and structures first-hand—cementing the textbook concepts we study in class,” says Dr Valentin Laurent, Senior Teaching Fellow in Pedagogic Transformation at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial.

But, while exciting and inspiring, fieldwork can also pose risks, be expensive, and present a significant barrier for students with disabilities or health issues. As Dr Valentin Laurent explains, using virtual reality (VR) can remove some accessibility barriers, while also taking fieldwork to a whole new level.

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ESE Spotlight: Dr Keir Nichols on sea level rise projections

Dr Keir Nichols, Postoc Research associate at the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London. An image of Keir in the field is shown on the right hand side. Keir holds a tool and kneels next to a rock.
Dr Keir Nichols is a Postdoc Research Associate in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial. As a glacial geologist, he is interested in understanding how glaciers, particularly the Antarctic ice sheets, have changed over the last ~20,000 years.

By reconstructing the past, Keir is working to help reduce uncertainties in future sea level rise projections. In this blog post, Keir explains more about his motivations and what he is hoping to achieve with his research.

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