Blog posts

FoNS at COP26: Galina Jönsson

A photo of Galina JönssonGalina Jönsson is a PhD student in the Department of Life Sciences, and part of the Imperial delegation heading to COP26.

In the broadest possible terms, my research is about biodiversity trends – specifically, I extend biodiversity time series backwards in time by using Natural History Museum specimens to cover the whole period of accelerating human pressures. This includes climate change effects (such as rising average temperatures and increased frequencies of extreme weather events), as well as land use changes. I focus on butterfly specimens collected over the past two centuries to develop novel statistical ‘time-travelling’ methods.   (more…)

FoNS at COP26: Courtnae Bailey

A photo of Courtnae BaileyCourtnae Bailey is a PhD student at the Centre for Environmental Policy, and part of the Imperial delegation heading to COP26.

My research is on climate change adaptation finance, more specifically, trying to increase private investment in climate change adaptation solutions.

This focus stems from more of a personal background – I’m from the Caribbean, from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. For us, climate change isn’t something on a future horizon, it’s what we’re experiencing now, yet small island developing states are responsible for less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. My work looks specifically at mobilising private finance to adapt; a lot of countries facing the biggest immediate threats from the climate crisis don’t have the capacity to both deal with development issues locally, and also adapt to climate change. (more…)

FoNS at COP26: Krista Halttunen

A photo of Krista HalttunenKrista Halttunen is a PhD student at the Centre for Environmental Policy, and part of the Imperial delegation heading to COP26.

I’m an interdisciplinary social scientist working in energy and looking at the transition to sustainable energy. Specifically, I’m asking, if we do meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, what does that mean for the global oil industry? So, tangibly, how do we ramp down our oil use? What happens to companies and all those stakeholders that rely on them? (more…)

Krill, climate change and COP26

Dr Emma Cavan
Dr Emma Cavan

Dr Emma Cavan is a Fellow in the Department of Life Sciences at Silwood Park. Her research focuses on the vital role that Antarctic krill (small ocean crustaceans) play in biogeochemical cycles (where biological, geological and chemical aspects of a natural cycle are considered). 

Emma will be heading to Glasgow, taking the case for krill to the COP26 climate conference this year as part of Imperial’s delegation. As well as taking the opportunity to share her research and hear from other delegates, she’ll attend the release of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) short animation, which explains the connection between krill and sinking carbon. She was involved behind-the-scenes in the making of the animation as an advisor, and looks forward to presenting her field of research to UN delegates via this creative collaboration. Plus, she’s on a panel at an event outside of the main COP on climate action and fishing, with the NGO Our Fish. (more…)

Untangling climate change and health from a political perspective

A photo of Leonardo Zea Reyes wearing a navy coloured suit with a pink tie and a background of green trees.

Leonardo Zea Reyes has an educational background in urban management and development, urban environment and climate change, and architecture. He’s just about to start his second year as a PhD student at Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP), and his first co-authored peer-reviewed paper was published in July 2021. 

In this post he tells us more about how his postgraduate research is evolving and what his first experience of the peer-review process has been like.

By Leonardo Zea Reyes

My research focuses on exploring why the application or implementation of joint climate change and public health projects is so challenging on the ground in many cities, and why it takes so much time to realise, even though there is a huge amount of knowledge about the benefits and co-benefits of implementing these kinds of projects. Literature suggests that this is linked to politics, vested interests, structural challenges and the economic system, but we need to be more specific. So, I’m looking at both climate and health from these perspectives, untangling it: what are the specific political influences on project implementation, and what can bring political traction? (more…)

The DigiFAB Hackathon 2021: our challenge and how we hacked it

Selfie in the Red Room
Selfie in the Red Room

Undergraduate students, Jiayue Feng and Sandeepa Tuladhar (both Chemistry with Molecular Physics) and Shannan Huang (Chemical Engineering) teamed up in the DigiFAB Hackathon to build a low-cost automated liquid handling platform. Here they tell us more about the challenge, their solution and why it was such a valuable experience.

By Jiayue Feng, Shannan Huang and Sandeepa Tuladhar

Learning more about the tools of our trade

Digital chemistry can potentially revolutionise the industry due to the rate at which discoveries can be made. An automated pipetting system can be accessed in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub (MSRH) but is not suited for all types of chemicals and large volumes of liquids. Digitalising reduces the need for manual labour and time, but still maintains high precision. Therefore, such an automated platform can save scientists from tedious and repetitive benchwork to focus more on designing experiments and analysing data. (more…)

Hack it! Reflecting on the 2021 DigiFAB Hackathon

The three members of team Turbidimeter in the Hackspace working on their projectUndergraduate students Kin Weng Chao and Yuchen Lou (both Chemistry) and Way Gene Hoo (Chemical Engineering) took part in this year’s DigiFAB Hackathon Challenge. Here they tell us more about the challenge, how they hacked it and what they learnt along the way.

By Kin Weng Chao, Yuchen Lou and Way Gene Hoo

Exploring beyond the undergraduate lab

As undergraduate Chemistry students we’re usually based in South Kensington. This Hackathon looked interesting because it presented an opportunity to get involved in the new DigiFAB Institute and Advanced Hackspace, and explore our Department’s space at White City. The challenge also looked very cool, allowing us to learn about and play around with new techniques, like 3D printing. (more…)

Reflections on life as a PhD student and a Geoffrey Wilkinson Prize Scholar

A photograph of FilipChemistry PhD student, Filip Aniés, was awarded a Geoffrey Wilkinson Prize Studentship in 2018 to pursue postgraduate research under the joint supervision of Professors Martin Heeney and John de Mello. To mark the centenary of Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson’s birth this year, Filip has written reflections on his PhD experiences so far, and on the impact that the studentship has had on his research and career. He also gives some tips on applying for PhD study.

Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, born on 14 July 1921, completed his PhD at Imperial in 1946, was Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Imperial from 1956-96, and was awarded the 1973 Chemistry Nobel Prize. The Wilkinson Charitable Foundation generously supports an Imperial PhD studentship in his memory.

By Filip Aniés

My journey to PhD study at Imperial

In a way, my journey to becoming a chemistry researcher started in October 2014, as I arrived from Sweden to undertake undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Imperial. With no personal contacts at Imperial – or at all in the UK – it was a big step to take, but I was excited about the idea of studying abroad, as well as the opportunity to join a university with a great reputation for research quality, and a department with a solid history as a contributor to chemical science. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I always found it particularly inspiring to come across facts and examples in various lecture courses or textbooks which had been discovered in the very department that I was part of! Not the least, of course, Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson’s discoveries, which popped up on multiple occasions, such as in the context of organometallic chemistry. (more…)

Don’t Pan(dem)ic! A personal reflection on STEM teaching in higher education during COVID-19

Dr Charlotte Sutherell
Dr Charlotte Sutherell

Dr Charlotte Sutherell is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, and recently won a President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. In this blog post she shares her perspectives on higher education teaching over the past year and a half: from the very sudden and unexpected shift to remote learning at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, to broader reflections on how remote teaching has impacted the HE landscape in both positive and negative ways, and why she loves her role in STEM education.

By Dr Charlotte Sutherell

Reaching the end of an academic year always triggers a real mixture of emotions for me, as one pauses and reflects. There’s relief as the pace eases a (small!) notch; satisfaction in what our student and staff community has accomplished; sadness at farewells to graduates despite excitement for their futures; anticipation for the year ahead. Those emotions are even more intense after the extraordinary months of activity we’ve all experienced thanks to the pandemic and the Curriculum Review. I am sure I’m not alone in finding myself reflecting on how my ideas about what we teach, how to do it and what matters most for learning have been shaken up! (more…)

Mentors and mentees: the value of student-led engagement activities

Accelerate, a student-led STEM initiative (profiled on Imperial News back in January 2021), has recently been highly commended for the Student Award for Excellence in Societal Engagement at Imperial’s recent President’s Awards.

In this blog post, co-founders Jasneet (Physics) and Simran (Chemical Engineering) tell us more about their engagement and entrepreneurial activities, and reflect on what it was like to win the award only a year after launching.

Jasneet Kaur Taak and Simran Sangla
Jasneet Kaur Taak and Simran Sangla

By Simran Sangla and Jasneet Kaur Taak

During the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020 we realised more than ever the importance of creating opportunities for people, regardless of their socio-economic background or the colour of their skin. Accelerate was the outcome of this realisation, created as a platform that provides students and graduates with equal opportunity. Drawing on our own experiences, and coming from BAME backgrounds ourselves, we rarely saw initiatives focused on helping BAME students attain top university offers or high positioned job roles. Thus, we started Accelerate in the hope of bridging the diversity gap for ethnic minorities through mentoring and support, aiming to build a supportive community of mentors and mentees that helps students gain access to resources and opportunities that we wish someone had told us about when starting our own academic and career journeys. (more…)