Imperial College London

Creativity unleashed at Imperial’s PhD Summer Showcase


PhD students describe their research in 2-minute elevator pitches

PhD students describe their research in 2-minute elevator pitches

Imperial’s PhD students displayed their artistic prowess at the Summer Showcase last week.

Hosted by the Graduate School, the event saw 91 PhD students submit their most imaginative entries in a poster and ‘Research as Art’ competition. Judges included Imperial academics, artists, research students and individuals who were not scientists by profession. 

For the poster category, judges assessed content, appearance and visual impact, along with how clearly the students explained their research in a two-minute elevator pitch. In the art competition, students were judged on how well their exhibit conveyed their research, impact and use of media.

Poster, poster, on the wall…

The posters on display covered a wide range of current graduate research at Imperial, from the role of hair follicles in scar reduction to how the common cold causes asthma attacks. 

Wing Wan, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, won first prize in the poster competition. Wing’s project, titled “Robots building the world's first 3D printed metal bridge”, highlighted his research on 3D printing steel structures - specifically his work to help understand the first one currently under construction in Amsterdam.

Wing Wan wins first prize (poster) at PhD Summer Showcase Wing said: "Participating in the PhD Student Showcase was amazing. It was an invaluable experience to present my research to academics from other fields with different perspectives; the questions I was asked were very interesting, and will hopefully encourage new ideas in my future work."

Getting artsy

Sludge cake
Laura's cake is made from sewage collected at Crossness Sewage Treatment Works and was autoclaved in an Imperial lab. It's safe to touch, but not quite safe to eat!

In the ‘Research as Art’ category Laura Braun, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, exhibited a “Sludge cake” to show the value of safely treating faecal waste and returning it to the environment as a natural fertiliser. 

Sophie Spitters, from the Department of Medicine, submitted a video project in this category which she titled “How interventions are spread.”

Sophie’s video conveyed how interventions and solutions to a healthcare improvement can change and develop depending on local priorities, capabilities and resources. 

She explained: “Carrying out research for my PhD is a rigorous process and can be quite intense. I wanted to get involved in the PhD Summer Showcase as it gave me a chance to express myself in a more creative and artistic way. Creating my video project for the showcase has inspired me and given me new energy to continue my research.”  

“The Ripple Effect”

Iman's artworkIman Ibrahim, of the Centre for Environmental Policy, scooped first prize in the ‘Research as Art’ category with an intricate piece of art called “The Ripple Effect.”

Iman presented her research project through a mandala, with each layer describing the work involved in providing safe and clean drinking water to our taps. 

Iman wins first prize (art) at the PhD Summer Showcase“There were so many great pieces of art during the PhD showcase, and I wasn't expecting to win,” Iman said. “I've always wanted to communicate science through my artwork, and winning first place made me feel that I have achieved this goal. Thank you to everyone that supported me and showed appreciation for my work.” 

Professor Sue Gibson, Director of the Graduate School, presented winners from both categories with their prizes and certificate, congratulating them on their talent and success. 

Encouraging creativity

PhD Summer ShowcaseReflecting on the success of the PhD Summer Showcase this year, Laura Lane, Head of Strategy and Operations at the Graduate School, commented:

“It’s always great to encourage creativity and the ability to communicate research among our students and we’re really pleased that the PhD Summer Showcase has returned for a second time. It is a great platform for students to share their work, but also for staff and others to learn about some of the exceptional research projects that our talented PhD students are working on.” 

From Wednesday 18 July, all the art exhibits produced by the PhD students will be on display for a month in the Blyth Gallery.


Martha Nahar

Martha Nahar
Communications and Public Affairs

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