Author: FoNS News

Accelerating the development of AI by creating artificial brain organoids

Sungyeon Park is a second-year Biological Sciences student at Imperial. In this blog, she talks about her exciting summer placement in the Ikeuchi Lab in Tokyo, where she cultivated neural tissues for research. Her work may one day inform our design of AI!


South Asian Heritage Month spotlight: Samia Rahman

The Centre for Environment Policy Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee interviewed Senior Finance Officer Samia Rahman from the Faculty of Natural Sciences. She gives us a window to what her Bangladeshi heritage means to her.

Samia Rahman (right) is a Senior Finance Officer, responsible for the Centre for Environmental Policy at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. She is pictured here with her husband (left).


The Prime Minister’s mathematical propositions

Thomas Walker is a second-year student at Imperial College studying for a BSc in Mathematics with Statistics.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his plans to make the studying of mathematics compulsory until the age of 18, making it a central part of the UK’s future education strategy. He emphasised that focusing on numerical literacy is essential for future economic and societal development. But will his plans work?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak & Bill Gates visit Imperial College


Championing nature’s most misunderstood critters

Dr Tilly Collins is a senior academic at the Centre for Environmental Policy. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on enhancing the environmental, social and economic sustainability in land-use transitions. She has a passion for entomology and makes regular media appearances to advocate for the crucial role of insects in future sustainability.

I am unashamedly and unabashedly an entomologist. I came to this realisation a bit late and only really fell in love with the insect world while doing my PhD at the Imperial College campus at Silwood Park as a decade-delayed mature student. My field work there was spent estimating insect numbers (especially of aphids) in willow plantations and listening to the hum and thrum of the array of life around me.

This was the start of my lifelong passion for working with insects, and spreading what I know to others so that, together, we can build an insect-positive future.

Dr Collins being interviewed, extolling the virtues and benefits of insects at the RHS Chelsea Garden.


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.


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.


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).


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


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.


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.