“During lockdown I volunteered for Sikh charities providing supplies and meals to care homes and homeless shelters.”
Joining Imperial was a dream come true for me as I had previously applied for over 50 courses and jobs here. My inspiration was Imperial’s (supposedly) first Sikh scientist, Professor Narinder Singh Kapany, who is known as “the father of fibre optics”. I believe that I might be the second proud Sikh scientist with a PhD in natural sciences to work at the College. I previously worked in industry for a successful startup company that tested ammonia toxicity in blood.
My current project on nuclear waste treatment is part of a national consortium on nuclear decommissioning. I am investigating the capabilities of phosphate-coated magnetic nanoparticles to adsorb radioactive uranium from nuclear waste using tiny magnetic particles. This is an exciting project that is vital to the UK government’s 2030 and 2050 goals to decommission nuclear power plants and tackle climate change.
“No matter how far away your work is from the clinic, there is nothing more motivating than bringing patients and the public into your research bubble.”
After completing my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and a Master’s degree in Cancer Biology, I chose to undertake a PhD at Imperial. Imperial is all about research, but being a researcher is not all about lab coats, hypothesis testing and data analysis.
Although most of my time was lab-based (pre-pandemic) I have really enjoyed taking opportunities to gain insight into the clinical impact of research through patient and public engagement activities. I have helped to deliver charity lab tours and taken part in clinical trial design discussions with clinicians, scientists, patients and the public. I’ve found that no matter how far away your work is from the clinic, there is nothing more motivating than bringing patients and the public into your research bubble and talking to them about what you do!
“We use robotics to understand how animals solve survival problems in their natural environment, like how mountain goats survive on steep cliffs.”
“I am the director of the Morph Lab. We use robotics to understand how animals solve survival problems in their natural environment. For instance, we conduct experiments on soft robotic hoofs to understand how mountain goats survive on steep cliffs. We have discovered that the hoof works like a brain to convert slips against the cliff to vibrations that automatically create a braking action. This is similar to how an automobile’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) works.
“Before the pandemic I enjoyed demonstrating the Morph Lab’s work to the public. It is rewarding to hear people say that our work helped them to understand a complex issue.
“I began my studies in Sri Lanka before going to Japan and the US. When the civil war ended, I returned home to Sri Lanka to set up a bio-inspired robotics lab to support landmine detection work. Before joining the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial in 2017, I also worked at Harvard, MIT and King’s College London.
“Being a programme manager means that I’m a jack of all trades and the master of them all too. I’m responsible for organising the CDT React’s programme to accommodate around 12 studentship projects each year (we will take on 60 overall) to focus on future research challenges across chemistry, chemical engineering and data science. I also oversee the development of the programme to ensure that we effectively build our researchers’ professional skills e.g. research communications and research ethics. Finally I oversee the research strategy which involves communicating with our external and industry advisory boards.
“I volunteered to serve in the NHS COVID-19 face-shield assembly project during the first lockdown.”
“After studying Biochemistry, I worked in a few different jobs, but one day of work experience at the UCL Molecular Virology lab helped to guide me onto a science career path. I first worked as a Science Technician in a school sixth form, before joining Imperial in 2017 as a Laboratory Technician in the National Heart and Lung Institute where I supported the Myocardial Function research groups.
“I thoroughly enjoy working within a university research lab and being surrounded by all the equipment and chemicals. As a Bioengineering Core Facilities Laboratory Technician, I provide research support for the Synthetic Biology labs and manage the departmental utility facility. I also manage the lab coat laundry services and assist researchers and other technicians. I currently deliver safety inductions for staff and students returning to the labs after lockdown.