Imperial College London

Geometry prize and photojournalism hub: News from the College

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Professor Simon Donaldson stands in front of a white board with mathematics written on it

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From a prestigious prize for an Imperial geometer, to a community event exploring photography and gender, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Geometry prize

Professor Simon Donaldson
Professor Simon Donaldson

Professor Simon Donaldson, Chair in Pure Mathematics at Imperial, has been awarded the 2019 Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry along with Professors XiuXiong Chen and Song Sun.

The trio received the prize for their three-part series, "Kähler-Einstein metrics on Fano manifolds, I, II and III", published in 2015 in the Journal of the American Mathematical Society, in which they proved a long-standing conjecture in differential geometry.

The Prize is awarded every three years for a notable research work in geometry or topology that has appeared in the last six years. The recipients will share $5000.

Read more about the Prize on the American Mathematical Society website.

European R&D: Artificial Intelligence

Vice Provost (Research and Enterprise) Professor Nick Jennings spoke at the Science Business annual conference in Brussels this week.

Opening the session on artificial intelligence, Professor Jennings said: “There is vast potential for human’s to work in partnership with AI and this is happening at Imperial where 76 PIs and 650 post docs are working on AI and its application.

“For example, an Imperial team from bioengineering, computing and the department of cancer and surgery have created an artificial intelligence system that could help treat patients with sepsis.”

The conference brought together 400 guests from research, industry and policy. Other speakers included Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General for Research & Innovation at the European Commission, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC, and Professor Otmar D Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association.

View the full video above.

Chart topping respiratory research

People gathered in the shape of a lungResearchers at Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) have been ranked as world leaders by Expertscape in respiratory science.

The database aims to provide the public with reliable information on who the top specialists are in any given area of healthcare. Professor Peter Barnes tops the list of experts for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with Professor Wisia Wedzicha also in the top ten, and Imperial ranks as the best institution. For asthma and cystic fibrosis scientists from NHLI again rank among the world’s top ten, including Professors Andrew Bush and Jane Davies.

Expertscape bases its rankings on scientific publications by searching Pubmed to find all the journal articles about the topic from the past ten years, then ranks these based on recency, type and publication. The database was started after its founder personally experienced difficulty finding a suitable specialist for a family member.

Night of Ideas: Inhabiting the Earth



Imperial took part in an environmental debate as part of the annual Night of Ideas – a programme of free talks exploring the latest ideas behind issues central to our times organised by the Institut Français.

One of the key themes for the after-hours event was ‘The Earth here and now’ and Professor Joanna Haigh, who is Co-Director of the Grantham Institute and Professor of Atmospheric Physics, spoke on a panel with Former French Minister for the Environment Nicolas Hulot and the University of Surrey’s Professor of Sustainable Development, Tim Jackson.

They discussed how and why they use their influence and expertise to raise public awareness of global warming and other environmental crises.

Speaking about her research, Professor Haigh said: “You can’t just do things in a vacuum withdrawn from everyone else, especially if the public is funding your work - you need to tell people what is happening.”

You can watch the full video above.

Defence Minister visits White City

Caption: (l-r) Stuart Andrew MP, Professor Neil Alford, Dr Deeph ChanaDefence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew MP visited the White City Campus on Monday to see the Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) at its I-HUB base.

Hosted by Associate Provost (Academic Planning) Professor Neil Alford and Deputy Director of Imperial’s Institute for Security Science and Technology, Dr Deeph Chana, the Minister was given a tour of the campus, including The Invention Rooms and the Imperial White City Incubator.

The College established a partnership with DASA last summer to collaborate on future challenges.

The Minister said: “This is a wonderful example of how we are utilising DASA to reach out to partners not traditionally associated with Defence, ensuring we find and fund the best innovations for UK defence and security and keep ahead of our adversaries.”

Surveying the psychedelic landscape

Concept image of brain on psychedelics
Gathering big data on psychedelics use

Imperial researchers have teamed up with animators and bestselling-author Michael Pollan to highlight efforts to collect more data on the use of psychedelics.

As part of a new campaign, the team has produced an animated video (see below) to promote the ‘Psychedelic Survey’ website – which gathers experiences of people taking psychedelic drugs in a variety of contexts.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, who leads the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial, said: “Well-designed trials are essential but can only tell us so much. Data collected through this platform could help us overcome these limitations and tell us more about the potential therapeutic value of psychedelics.” 

For more information, visit psychedelicsurvey.com

A video, voiced by Michael Pollan, highlights the aims of the Psychedelic Survey project

Education award

Conner Shiqu Qiu with his prize
Conner Shiqu Qiu

The UK’s top students have been honoured at a special awards ceremony in Manchester. Seventy-six finalists and 400 guests travelled across the UK to attend the British Education Awards, on 31 January.

At the ceremony, School of Medicine MBBS graduate Dr Connor Shiqu Qiu, was awarded a Degree award. Dr Qiu pioneered the SleepImperial campaign to promote sleeping and wellness across the College.

He worked with a team of students and staff from across the College to organise and run the first Imperial Sleep Week, featuring talks, information stands and yoga sessions, all aimed at improving students’ understanding and attitude to sleep.

The SleepImperial website has attracted thousands of visitors and has inspired other universities across the world to start their own sleep campaigns.

Photojournalism at White City

Image credit: (left) Giovanna del Sarto (right) Wamaitha Ng’ang’a
Image credit: (left) Giovanna del Sarto (right) Wamaitha Ng’ang’a

The community-led Photojournalism Hub held its second event at Imperial’s White City Incubator, focusing on photography and gender.

The first project, 'Still figuring it out what it means to be a man' by Antonia Michaela Porter and Giovanna del Sarto, explored various aspects of manhood, patriarchy and masculinity in contemporary South Africa.

Photojournalist Wamaitha Ng'ang'a then talked about the project 'Speak Out', based on the stories of women survivors of domestic violence.

Founded by local resident Cinzia D’Ambrosi, the Hub aims to generate concrete positive outcomes for vulnerable communities and individuals through the tool of photojournalism, holding events in the local area.

Image credit: (left) Giovanna del Sarto (right) Wamaitha Ng’ang’a

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