Author: Nikita Rathod

Benita Nortmann, Research Postgraduate, Aeronautics 

“From smart manufacturing to autonomous flight, I believe that control and automation will play a crucial role in the future of the aerospace industry.” 

If science is all about understanding the world around us, engineering is about using this knowledge to build systems that make our environment safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Control engineering in particular, focusses on using mathematical models to design input laws, which allow us to modify and shape the behaviour of such systems. 

My PhD project at Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics explores the role of information in control engineering and how to overcome the lack of it. Particular focus is given to networked systems, which consist of multiple interconnected parts such as power networks or satellite constellations. The aim is to develop systematic control design methods which guarantee a desired performance based only on limited available information. This challenge is addressed in my research by combining methods from dynamic game theory, which provides tools to model the interaction of strategic decision-makers, and direct data-driven control, in which unknown system information is replaced directly with measured data. 

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Dr Julia Makinde, Research Associate, Department of Infectious Disease  

“My work seeks to understand the entire system of interconnected responses that can successfully bring infections like HIV under control.”

A colleague recently described the body’s response to infections as an orchestra in which the musicians within the instrumental ensemble understand their positions well enough to do their bit when summoned by the movement of the baton. Within the context of the immune system, I would go as far as to say that the components of the body’s response to infection must appear when summoned, with the appropriate cadence and melody for the performance to be deemed successful. In this context, it is also safe to state that a single instrument does not constitute an orchestra.

My work at Imperial seeks to understand the entire system of interconnected responses that can successfully bring infections like HIV under control. I am a postdoctoral Research Associate at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s Human Immunology Laboratory which is based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Prior to joining Imperial, I completed my PhD at Cardiff University in Wales.

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Davina Tijani, Research Support Analyst, Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU) 

“Being a trusted ally for researchers is vital in my role”

I joined Imperial three years ago, weeks after I finished my Master’s degree in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at University College London. I work as a research support analyst in the Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU) within the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) 

My main role is to support clinical researchers with any enquiries, issues, and questions in relation to their use of the BDAU’s research environment (a secure platform used for clinical research). Other key aspects of my role include data management, managing data documentation and supervising the BDAU Secure Environment operations, including data transfers from our data providers, such as NHS Digital and Public Health England.  

Like many people at Imperial and around the world, the impact of COVID-19 on my job was immediate and profound. However, the BDAU team and I were able to meet the challenges of remote working and continue our work of supporting clinical researchers.   

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