Blog posts

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…)

Bringing physics to life: new first-year labs, a student experience

Imperial undergraduates, Anubha Bal and Warren Smith, recently took a little time out from their studies to star in a short video, joining staff members to share thoughts on the new first year labs in the Department of Physics.

In this post, they reflect in more detail on how the new facilities have impacted their learning and experience of experimental physics, and also their career aspirations.

By Anubha Bal and Warren Smith

This past year, we and the rest of our cohort of first-year physicists had the fortune to be the first students to experience the newly refurbished labs in Blackett. Here, we share our experience of this and how it has shaped us and our perspective on experimental physics.

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The bigger picture: collaboration can bring research to life

Dr Adam SykulskiDr Adam Sykulski is a Senior Lecturer in the Statistics section of Imperial’s Department of Mathematics. He recently attended an Environment and Sustainability theme event at Silwood Park, organised as part of Silwood’s 75th Anniversary celebrations.

In this post, Dr Sykulski reflects on why he attended the event, what he took away – valuable information about funding strategies, grant applications and potential collaborators – and reasons why researchers at all career stages should engage.

By Dr Adam Sykulski

My research is in mathematical statistics with a focus on data that are spatiotemporal – in other words, data that are collected at multiple instances over space and time and are in some way connected. Such mathematical challenges, while interesting in their own right, truly come to life when they find an application domain to work closely with. In my view, there isn’t a more natural domain for this than the environmental sciences! As I’ve aimed towards such a collaboration to help build the impact and usefulness of my research, over the years I’ve been drawn to working with oceanographers.

Of course, the statistical challenges in oceanography – modelling plastic pollution, oil spills and global warming, for example – are pressing and important. What really drew me in as a statistician, however, were the fascinating physical structures that underpin oceanographic data, but are in reality contaminated by observational noise and uncertainty, thus requiring a cross-disciplinary approach to resolve the scientific challenge. (more…)

Valuing biodiversity’s future in a changing world 

75th anniversary - Silwood ParkOn 21 July 2022 the Silwood Park campus at Imperial College London will welcome speakers and delegates from Imperial, University College London, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and UK Parliament to debate a critically important topic: the future of biodiversity.

In this post Science Communication Master’s student, Sascha Pare, examines why it’s so important for scientists and policymakers to have frank and honest discussions. She also considers the devastating consequences on the horizon if we lose sight of biodiversity commitments for short-term economic gains.

By Sascha Pare

The future of biodiversity on Earth is uncertain. Without joint and systemic action to halt the loss of species and habitats, scientists have warned of a possible sixth mass extinction with devastating consequences for humankind. In the race to mitigate the interlinked effects of biodiversity loss and climate change before it is too late, scientists and policymakers are coming together to discuss long-term solutions. (more…)

Make it meaningful: RCSU’s Science Challenge 2022

Every year the Royal College of Science Union‘s (RCSU) international science communication competition, the Science Challenge, welcomes entrants from schools across the globe. This year’s competition focused on climate change, with questions set by Professor Lord Robert Winston, Professor Kathy Sykes, Professor Richard Templer and Dr Paulo Ceppi.

In this post RCSU Vice President Operations, Trinity Stenhouse, reflects on what led her to the VPO position as a first year undergraduate. why the Science Challenge has been designed to focus on sci comm for non-specialist audiences, and the importance of making science meaningful.

You can also find out more about this year’s winning entries! (more…)

A free postdoc and publication opportunities… interested?

Dr Viraj Perera
Dr Viraj Perera

Dr Viraj Perera is Director of Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In this post he highlights the reasons why the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme, run by Innovate UK, is such a valuable opportunity for collaboration and funding, detailing how FoNS academics can learn more about the scheme and its benefits. 

By Viraj Perera

Championing translational research

Innovate UK is the nation’s innovation agency and is a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Its approved budget for 2021-22 is £667 million, which is greater than the budgets approved for BBSRC, AHRC and ESRC funding combined. This clearly indicates a major thrust towards championing translational research in solving real-world problems in industry settings. (more…)