“I have been working with an illustrator to produce a series of artistic but scientifically accurate drawings of the roots of active volcanoes.”
I started my university career as a Physics student in Italy. During my undergraduate degree, I spent a year abroad at the University of Manchester and this experience opened the door for me to British academia. I switched from Physics to Geophysics and was offered a PhD scholarship at the University of Southampton to study the Soufrière Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat.
Since then, my main research focus at Imperial has been to image the plumbing systems of active volcanoes to better understand how magma is transported to the surface before and during an eruption. The volcanoes I study are usually submarine volcanoes or island volcanoes, and they are best studied using marine geophysics. These are the same field techniques that are used by the oil industry to image and monitor hydrocarbon reservoirs.
“I was lucky enough to be part of the medical team at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, a truly unforgettable experience and a patient group like no other!”
I completed my undergraduate degree qualifying as a Diagnostic Radiographer in 2004. I’ve enjoyed a brilliantly varied career up to now, working clinically in various countries, commencing a research career at UCL, and completing an MSc in Medical Magnetic Resonance. I was lucky enough to be part of the medical team at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, a truly unforgettable experience and a patient group like no other!
A particular career highlight came in 2014 when I worked in the Falkland Islands for a year. I was responsible for the medical imaging of the human population as well as that required by the veterinary service and the fisheries department.
My current role at Imperial is as Senior Research Radiographer in a friendly and supportive team at the Mansfield Centre for Innovation. We optimise, acquire and analyse MRI data for an array of different studies, working closely with cardiac and psychiatric imaging groups who study diseases ranging from cardiomyopathy and pulmonary hypertension to schizophrenia and psychosis. We also perform some clinical imaging, such as running the fetal MRI service for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
“I started a long-term project aiming to provide an alternative nanotherapy-mediated vaccination strategy for malaria.”
After finishing my studies in nanosciences, I decided to take on the challenge of a cross-field PhD at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland. Ever since, my research focus has been to use nanotechnology for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, mainly malaria.
Malaria is a devastating infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is responsible for the death of about half a million children every year. The current COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors, has led to a stagnation of the anti-malarial fight, which highlights the urgent need for innovations distinctively different to our current solutions.
Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial
“When you are Chilean, you feel proud because you come from a country that has overcome a lot of difficulties. We are extremely resilient.”
When you are Chilean, you feel proud because you come from a country that has overcome a lot of difficulties. We are extremely resilient. We have many natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes, so we are used to rebuilding everything. Bad things happen often, but we learn to carry on.
There is so much about Chile that people are not aware of. Chile is a really wealthy country in terms of literature – we have incredible writers such as Nicanor Parra, Roberto Bolaños and Pablo de Rokha. We have wonderful celebrations, such as for 18 de September, where the country stops for a week to mark the first meeting that started the process of independence from Spain. Everyone gets together to eat traditional Chilean food like empanadas and asados and drink terremotos, piscolas or an awesome Chilean wine.
“I strive to identify how best we can communicate air pollution as a health risk to the public”
After I completed my MSc in environmental technology at Imperial, I started a job as an air quality consultant, working on projects involving monitoring and modelling air quality. Through my educational background and work experience, I was able to recognise the sources and magnitude of the air pollution problem in our city and its impact on human health.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder how the public could understand the importance of tackling the air pollution problem if they could not see it! The opening sentence of my personal statement when applying for my PhD studentship eight years ago was – ‘Air pollution, the invisible killer, needs to be unmasked! How can we do it?’ Finding the answer to this question was and still is the focus of my research.
My research largely involves working with members of the public, enabling them to be an active part of the research process, and helping them to design, implement and interpret their own air quality monitoring projects. I am interested in interdisciplinary work bridging natural science, social and health disciplines and in identifying the benefits of involving lay individuals in the research process. (more…)
“There’s such a welcoming group of people with a healthy attitude to lunch –and the idea that breaking bread builds communities.”
I completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bath in 2018. This included a placement at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where I published a paper. That experience was pivotal in deciding to be an immunologist.
In 2019, I joined Imperial as a research technician. I mainly characterise immune cells in different diseases, and also now contribute to imaging within the Inflammation Repair and Development (IRD) Section.
Outside of the laboratory, I volunteer with organisations promoting STEM fields to under–represented groups, including mentoring young girls and non-binary people through the Stemettes and celebrating Black voices with the Black in Immuno Hub.
Since 2021, I have been the technician for the Lloyd laboratory where I teach users how to operate some imaging equipment, assist members with their experiments, and offer wider technical support and some general laboratory administration. (more…)
“I am optimising growth conditions and working out how to maintain and store the different species of cyanobacteria”
I am a molecular biologist and the Research Technician for the newly stablished Molecular Evolution Lab. Our group is studying the origin and evolution of photosynthesis using cyanobacteria as a model system. Cyanobacteria are carbon-fixing oxygen-releasing microorganisms of major ecological impact. They played a significant role in Earth’s history by enabling the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere and the appearance of more complex life.
My project aims to better understand the dynamics of genome evolution in diverse cyanobacteria. We have planned a long-term evolutionary experiment in which we aim to gather experimental data of the speed and process of their evolution under stable lab conditions. For this, four species of cyanobacteria will be grown under constant light and growth conditions and their genomes analysed using next generation sequencing techniques.
“I am developing a completely new type of computer-assisted technique that combines tools from different areas of mathematics with the latest advances in numerical optimisation”
I joined Imperial as an undergraduate back in 2010 to study Aeronautical Engineering. I found myself so much at home that after graduating I decided to stay, first as a PhD student and now as an Imperial College Research Fellow.
My work explores new ways in which optimisation – the science of doing things as well as possible – can help engineers design technology that performs at its best, and is robust to changes in its operating environment. This is key to making industries such as energy and transport sustainable.
To meet this ambitious goal, one must be able to answer questions like, “How much energy can a wind turbine generate?” or “In which conditions does it operate safely?”. High-fidelity computer simulations and machine learning methods can only provide partial answers because, for engineering systems of such complexity, the number of scenarios that one can simulate accurately and use to train artificial intelligence is typically very limited.
“I’m now part of the Grenfell Firefighters Study team, examining the physical health outcomes of almost 800 London firefighters who attended the Grenfell Tower fire.”
I’m a Research Nurse at the National Heart and Lung Institute, currently working with firefighters all day!
My journey here was a bit like crossing a bridge and tunnel to reach the same destination. Intrigued by human behaviour, I completed a psychology degree but couldn’t see myself adopting its indirect approach. I then worked in charities and enjoyed building more therapeutic relationships with people, so trained as a nurse. I rarely saw people like me in either field. But when I discovered nurses could be researchers, I suddenly thought – why not me?
I’m now part of the Grenfell Firefighters Study team, examining the physical health outcomes of almost 800 London firefighters who attended the Grenfell Tower fire. It’s undoubtedly a sensitive topic which I’m fortunate to gain insight into. I support firefighters to take part in the study, perform heart/lung function assessments and blood tests, then discuss their results. In the future, we’ll monitor medium and long-term health outcomes by reviewing their health records.
“COP26 was about a month after I got a call informing me that I’d been matched with someone who needed bone marrow”
After doing my undergraduate course in Natural Sciences, I continued at the University of Cambridge to get a PhD in the physics of solar cells. I enjoyed being a student, but not particularly my actual research, so I left academia for two years to work as a consultant to pay off my student loan before becoming a more interdisciplinary scientist, working on climate change.
Currently I do a variety of programming and statistical analyses on emissions data, for instance working out relationships between different types of air pollution. People often want to think only about carbon dioxide emissions, but the other gases we emit can make a big difference too.
I calculate the amount of carbon we can afford to produce while still staying below certain temperature limits for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – something that has to take account of these other gases and also contribute to estimating the impact of recent climate pledges in the UNEP emissions gap report. You may have read in the news when we updated our conclusion during COP26 to show that if all governments stick to their promises and long-term goals, we might see less than 2C warming. It’s a significant progress milestone, though there’s still a lot of work to do.