Blog posts

Becoming a wildlife detective

A Silwood Park student team became the champions of a national wildlife competition where they competed to identify as many mammals as possible. Max Khoo from the MSc Ecology, Evolution and Conservation course takes us through the tools of animal investigation that allowed them to emerge victorious!

Team Silwood Snappers. From left to right: Max Khoo, Noel Chan, Corey Liu (holding Mr. Tinkles, the resident Silwood cat), Sinan Gürlek, and Hung-wei Lin.
Team Silwood Snappers. From left to right: Max Khoo, Noel Chan, Corey Liu (holding Mr. Tinkles, the resident Silwood cat), Sinan Gürlek, and Hung-wei Lin.

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Cheating evolution to fight malaria

Ioanna Morianou recently completed her PhD (MRC DTP), at the Department of Life Sciences (Crisanti Lab). Here, she talks about her work as R&D Team Lead at Biocentis, innovating genetic tools to control agricultural pests, as well as the genetic strategies she utilised to help fight malaria.

Ioanna mosquito cage
Ioanna examining a cage of mosquitoes.

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Imperial’s magnetometer is measuring saltwater oceans in Jupiter’s icy moons

Ciaran Jones and Matthew Acevski are final-year MSci students from the Department of Physics who helped model aspects of the JUICE mission, launching on 13 April, which will explore the icy moons orbiting Jupiter. In this blog post, they tell us the science behind Imperial’s instrument aboard the mission: JMAG.

By Ciaran Jones and Matthew Acevski

The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission promises to be one of the most exciting feats in space exploration. Due to launch on 13 April 2023 onboard Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket, the spacecraft will use the gravitational fields of Venus and Earth to accelerate towards the outer Solar System. We expect JUICE to reach the Jupiter system by the early 2030s.

The key scientific objectives of JUICE are to characterise three of Jupiter’s moons: Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto to determine their potential habitability. We believe these moons contain liquid water, in the form of saltwater oceans, beneath their icy surfaces. And we know that water, as we know it on Earth, is a prerequisite for life to succeed. However, predictions for the thicknesses of these oceans are on the order of hundreds of kilometres ­– significantly more than Earth’s (a few kilometres).

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In the icy mountains of Norway, a FoNS researcher is studying how clouds affect global warming

Sanjeevani Panditharatne is a PhD student in the Space and Atmospheric Physics Group in the Department of Physics. She writes to us from the icy mountains of Andøya, Norway, where she is weathering snow storms to study how cirrus clouds affect the Earth’s warming.

By Sanjeevani Panditharatne

I’m part of a team of three who have headed to Andøya, a remote Norwegian island inside the Arctic circle to better understand the link between high-altitude ice clouds and their climate impact within the far-infrared region!

Photo of Sanjeevani and the FINESSE instrument

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Conservation aflame

Abigail Croker is a PhD Student in the Centre for Environmental Policy, funded by the SSCP DTP, Grantham Institute, and affiliated with the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society. In this post, she tells us about the challenges the world faces when tackling wildfires in the era of climate change. Her fieldwork in the Tsavo Conservation Area in Kenya tells us that we need to look beyond the Global North for fire management practices.

Abigail visiting the UNESCO world heritage site, Kit-Mikayi, a unique cultural and religious site of the Luo people.

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The RCSU wants you to be a science communicator

The Royal College of Science Union (RSCU) is launching 2023’s Science Challenge – an annual competition open to Imperial undergraduates and Master’s students, as well as high school students in their last four years of school. It invites participants to create compelling and entertaining pieces of science communication. We talked to Vanessa Madu, a final year student from the Department of Mathematics and this year’s RSCU Science Challenge Chair.

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Burning plasma: How 2022’s biggest fusion milestone impacts our research

Researchers from the Plasma Physics Group talk about how 2022’s biggest fusion breakthrough affects their research at Imperial College London, and how their simulations may one day help scientists achieve commercial fusion energy.

By Aidan Crilly and Brian Appelbe

Nuclear fusion dominated headlines around the world last week, but our plasma physics work at Imperial College London has been a source of excitement for scientists interested in fundamental physics as well as those hoping for a breakthrough in fusion energy.

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Discovering the birds of Lundy Island

Students from the MSc Ecology, Evolution and Conservation course ventured to Lundy Island to learn fundamental fieldwork techniques. Max Khoo tells us about his experience birdwatching, accompanied by his photographs of the island’s wildlife and landscape.

By Max Khoo

It was 2.00 on a Monday, 28 November 2022. Alarms were ringing, and 33 students from the MSc Ecology, Evolution and Conservation course had been up since just past midnight. Despite this, we were more than excited for what was to come, for it was not like any other week on campus. We would be travelling across land, air and sea to a remote island off Devon where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean: Lundy Island, where we would be spending our time learning about biodiversity and population biology on a field course.

The helicopter that we took to get to Lundy. Only six students could be flown over from mainland on each trip.

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Physics student success at the MIT ENERGYHACK 2022

A team of Physics undergraduate students recently travelled to the USA to compete in ENERGYHACK 2022, an annual competition at MIT, with support coming from the Dean’s Fund.

Read more about the team’s experiences and stateside success!

By George Su and Xavier Keogh

Over the weekend of 11-13 November we, a team of four 3rd year students comprised of two theoretical physicists (George Su and Xavier Keogh), a material scientist (Zanna Buckland) and a computer scientist (Tanish Goel), attended the MIT EnergyHack 2022.

The EnergyHack is an annual competition at MIT where teams of students from elite universities across the world spend 36 continuous hours working towards creating solutions for various sustainability challenges our world currently faces.

Reflective of the difficulties of the world’s low carbon transition, the challenges require multidisciplinary skills. Scientific, engineering and computational ingenuity was required to come up with the solutions, but business strategy and public speaking was required to make the solution practical and economically viable. (more…)

Developing ecological field skills on the Plymouth marine field course

Nell Pates is an undergraduate student on the BSc Biological Sciences course in the Department of Life Sciences.

Here Nell reflects on a week spent in Plymouth for the marine ecology field course, part of the Ecological Field Skills second year optional module.

By Nell Pates

The week we spent in Plymouth for the marine ecology field course was the best of my degree so far. The course was exhausting at times but also incredibly interesting and fun.

We spent about half our time learning new things. We visited different marine habitats and learned field skills both on the shore and out at sea on boats.

The other half of the time, we were given almost complete freedom to do our group work, applying what we had learned to whichever marine environment interested us the most. (more…)