Imperial Scholar's Meet & Greet Event 2016

Faculty of Natural Sciences

Mathilde Fajardy - Centre for Environmental Policy

Mathilde FajardyName:  Mathilde Fajardy
Department: Centre for Environmental Policy
Title of Research: Is Bio-Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) a sustainable and resource efficient candidate for climate mitigation?
Email: mathilde.fajardy16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s): Niall Mac Dowell

About me:
I hold an Engineering and master degree from Ecole Centrale Paris (France), with a specialisation in Energy and thermal sciences. During my time at Centrale, I spent a semester abroad at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, in India, and took a gap year as a R&D intern in the Gas industry in France. I first came at Imperial College as a research intern in May 2015, and have been working on the same project as a PhD student since October 2016.

Summary of Research:
I am working at the Centre for Environmental Policy on the evaluation of the technical and environmental performance of Bio-Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). By combining biomass combustion for power generation and carbon capture and storage, BECCS is theoretically a carbon negative power source: it produces power while removing CO2 from the atmosphere. In 2015, 200 countries agreed to limit global warming under 1.5°C in the Paris COP agreement, and negative emission technologies are considered fundamental to meet this target. In this context, my work as a PhD is to evaluate if BECCS could indeed be a sustainable and resource efficient candidate for climate mitigation.

Research interests:
I have always been interested in energy and general, and deeply concerned by climate change, I am determined to having a near-time impact on the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
I had already found the project and supervisor that was the right fit for me, but needed the funds to start a PhD. This scholarship gave me the opportunity to carry on with my work at Imperial College.

Matthew Bidwell - Department of Chemistry

Matthew BidwellName: Matthew Bidwell
Department: Chemistry
Title of Research: Synthesis, Design and Fabrication of Organic Semiconducting polymers and Organic Photocathodes for use in Photocatalytic water splitting for renewable H2 production.
Email: mwb11@ic.ac.uk
Supervisor(s): Professor Iain McCulloch

About me:
I grew up in the South of England in the leafy county of Surrey, just South of London. I started my undergraduate studies at Imperial College in 2011 in Chemistry, culminating with my final year abroad at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. My MSci project focused on the multi-step asymmetric total synthesis of a biologically active molecule with anti-HIV applications.

This was followed by a year at Merck KGaA in Southampton working on organic solar cell technologies. The experience gave me both an insight into working in a research environment as well as a continued desire to pursue a career which translates chemical research into solving real world problems.

This led me to apply to the PhD program at Imperial College under the supervision of Professor Iain McCulloch. It was clear that this institution was the right place to complete my doctoral studies due to the world-class quality of its research and facilities.

Summary of Research:
As the global energy demand increases the development of new materials and devices capable of providing non-fossil derived fuels on a worldwide scale is key to ensuring the future sustainability and security of global energy supplies. Of the possible renewable energy sources, sunlight is by far the most abundant, with one hour of solar irradiation exceeding the global annual energy consumption. This would be achieved by utilising reaction methodology with low energy intensity, minimal production of toxic waste, and at low cost to provide materials to enable the development of functioning photoelectrochemical reactors that implement stable organic bulk heterojunction photocathodes for solar driven hydrogen generation from water, producing higher hydrogen yields than current inorganic based technologies. This is an emerging and exciting area of chemistry, with complex problems that require an interdisciplinary and analytical approach, which working with Imperial College is able to provide.

Research interests:
My research interests lie in developing robust, low cost, non-toxic, novel functional conjugated polymeric materials and catalytic systems for the generation of clean and renewable energy.

This is done in the context of developing visible light absorbing organic semiconductors which mimic photosynthesis for the conversion of solar energy into storable and energy dense H2 solar fuels, by exploiting one of Earth’s most abundant natural resource; water.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The Imperial College Scholarship enables me to freely conduct research without restriction on a range of areas in organic electronics which interest me. The generous stipend allows me to focus wholly on my work, whilst also providing me with invaluable financial security.

Rishi Kumar - Department of Mathematics

Name:  Rishi Kumar
Department:
Mathematics
Title of Research:
Linear and nonlinear stability of plane Poiseuille-Couette flow
Email:
r.kumar16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Dr Andrew Walton

About me:
I am a PhD student in AMMP (Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics) section of Department of mathematics. After completing my high school education in India, I came to England in 2012 to do M. Math at the University of Manchester and obtained my master’s degree in 2016. During those four years, I studied a broad range of physical applied mathematics modules and undertook an internship in my third year during which I worked on a research project ‘Powder modelling’ under supervision of Dr Sean Holman, and funded by AWE plc. After that I moved to Imperial College London to do PhD in fluid dynamics.

Summary of Research: 
The field of hydrodynamic stability examines methodically the stability and the onset of instability of various fluid flows such as plane Poiseuille and Couette flows, Hagen-Poiseuille flow through a tube of circular cross-section and Blasius boundary layer flow.

The aim of my project is to investigate analytically and computationally the linear and nonlinear stability of various shear flows. We will concentrate mainly on plane Poiseuille-Couette flow which exhibits a linear instability provided the wall speed V is below a critical value. In this project, we will use a mixture of analytical and numerical techniques, exploiting the largeness of the Reynolds number to develop asymptotic theories.

Research interests:
My research interests lie in almost all aspects of fluid dynamics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, Continuum mechanics, Real and Complex Analysis, waves and oscillations, Stochastic Calculus, integral transforms, special functions and their applications, Brownian motion, Computational mathematics.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Imperial college London is a world class university which provides superb research facilities and has inspiring study environment.  This scholarship offers generous financial support to assist with living costs in London and a consumables fund to cover costs for attending seminars and workshops. It gives me freedom to follow my passion in my research work without worrying for financial hardships.

 

Samuel Page - Department of Chemistry

Samuel PageName: Samuel Page
Department:
Chemistry
Title of Research:
Catalytic transformations of biomass-derived platform chemicals using novel, non-precious metal catalysts
Email:
samuel.page11@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Dr. Philip Miller

About me:
I come from a small village in the south of England, not a million miles from London. I was keen to come to Imperial College, because of its reputation and location – firstly for my undergraduate degree in Chemistry, back in 2011! I really enjoyed my four years studying here as an undergrad. I had undertaken a year in industry during my degree, which I found useful, but less rewarding than the time I had spent working on my final year research project at Imperial. Because of this, I knew I wanted to begin a PhD after graduation. I had forged a strong relationship with my supervisor during my undergrad project, and was excited by the research areas of the group, so I felt building on this foundation going into a PhD at Imperial College was the best choice for me.

Summary of Research:
Fossil fuels are used as a carbon feedstock to make a vast range of chemicals and fuels which we rely on. However, these resources are finite, and their prolonged usage is causing severe climate change.  A promising, alternative source of carbon is biomass, owing to its abundance and sustainability. However, molecules found in biomass – be it from dead trees or energy crops – are intrinsically more complex chemically than crude oil. To produce valuable chemicals from biomass requires specific chemical transformations, which rely on a catalyst for their success. Today, the majority of catalysts developed for biomass conversions utilise expensive, rare and toxic metals, limiting both their industrial applicability and the sustainability of such processes. If catalysts could be developed using cheap, earth-abundant and less dangerous metals – such as iron and cobalt – then a truly sustainable system for the synthesis of useful chemicals from biomass could be found. To develop these catalysts will require research into novel ligand systems – that is the framework which modifies the properties of the metal. Hence, it is a combination of metal choice, ligand design and biomass feedstock that are the factors under investigation.   

Research interests:
Biomass conversions, earth-abundant transition metals, homogeneous catalysis, green chemistry, sustainable chemistry, ligand design, hydrogenation reactions 

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
I was certain that I wanted to undertake my PhD at Imperial College. The scholarship scheme has allowed me to continue to study and live in London, which I would have found difficult otherwise, as well as placing me in a cohort of students which encourages collaboration and continued personal development.

Scott Melville - Department of Physics

Scott MelvilleName: Scott Melville
Department:
Physics
Title of Research:
Constraining low energy Effective Field Theories via high energy axioms
Email:
s.melville16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Claudia de Rham

About me:
Scott Melville grew up in Scotland, then moved south and received his MPhys Masters degree from the University of Oxford in 2015, with a thesis on how to consistently modify Einstein’s theory of gravity. During the 2015-2016 academic year, he visited Harvard University as the von Clemm Fellow, where he continued working on interesting high energy and gravitational things. Among the many interesting people that Scott met in the States, he found much in common with Claudia de Rham and Andrew Tolley, and moved to Imperial with them in October 2016.   

Summary of Research:
In recent decades, theoretical physicists have developed incredibly precise models of the small scale structure of our Universe. However, one would hope that how quickly your bathtub fills, or how slowly your tea cools, should have little to do with individual quarks or Higgs bosons – there’s a clear scale separation between our everyday world of experiences and its underlying microscopic description. In practice, if one is interested in calculating macroscopic quantities, one can effectively average over all of the irrelevant microscopic details: this results in something called an `effective field theory’. My work studies how various physical properties (like causality) at very small distances (or high energies) translate into properties of the large distance (or low energy) effective theory. This is especially useful in cases where we have little understanding of a system’s microscopic behaviour (such as gravity), as it allows us to efficiently construct effective theories of large scale, observable, effects.

Research interests:
Scott’s main research interests are currently in constraining effective field theories and applying them to a range of problems, often in a gravitational or cosmological context. For example, answering questions like whether certain modified theories of gravity can be compatible with desirable physical properties at high energies; whether particular early Universe scenarios can be successfully described using the physical laws observed today; and how much we can learn about our Universe from mathematical consistency alone, before comparing with experiments.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The IC PhD scholarship is an excellent opportunity for both domestic and international students to benefit from the resources and expertise at Imperial college without the financial burden of living in London.

Faculty of Medicine

Ecco Staller - Department of Medicine

Ecco StallerName: Ecco Staller
Department:
Medicine
Title of Research:
Probing the role of ANP32 proteins in supporting influenza replication
Email:
e.staller@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Prof Wendy Barclay & Prof Paul Farrell

About me:
I decided to embark on a science degree back in 2010, while working as an English teacher in Paris. I received a BSc in Natural Sciences from the Open University in 2013 (the same year my son was born), followed by an MSc in Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases from the LSHTM in 2015. I conducted an MSc Research Project on Epstein-Barr virus molecular genetics at Imperial College with Prof Paul Farrell, as an external student. I then moved to the Towers lab at UCL to work on HIV-1 capsid protein as a Research Assistant, before moving back to Imperial on a 6-month Research Technician contract to extract and analyse HIV-1 genomes from early blood samples. I started my PhD research at the end of October 2016.

Summary of Research:
Last year the Barclay lab discovered that Influenza A virus requires the host protein ANP32A for successful replication (Long et al. Nature 2016). I am trying to figure out what this protein does for the virus, and how the interaction works. I am using a CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing approach to create clonal cell lines that do not make ANP32A (and/or its close family member ANP32B). These so-called knockout cells can then be used to probe the mechanism behind the interplay between host and pathogen.

Understanding these interactions in detail could open the door to targeted anti-Influenza drugs, and possibly to pigs and chickens that do not support Influenza replication. This would greatly reduce the potential severity of the next Influenza pandemic.

Research interests:
Most viruses are tiny inert particles with just a handful of genes. Even so, they can cause devastating disease and disastrous economic loss. Viruses come alive only inside host cells, where they hijack the DNA-reading and protein assembly machines to make many copies of themselves. I am interested in how they do this.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
When it comes to innovative research in translational medicine I believe Imperial College is the best University in the UK.

Niall Bourke - Department of Medicine

Niall BourkeName: Niall Bourke
Department:
Restorative Neurosciences, Medicine
Title of Research:
Neural correlates of impaired social cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury
Email:
n.bourke@imperial.ac.uk

About me:
During my undergraduate psychology degree in Dublin I developed a strong interest in traumatic brain injury (TBI). After working as rehabilitation assistant at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland I moved to London to complete an MSc in Neuroimaging at King’s College London. I was involved in various projects including functional imaging with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a neurodevelopmental project with Romanian adoptees. From this I was fortunate enough to get a position with Prof. Sharp as a research assistant on a clinical trial exploring disruption to the dopaminergic system following TBI. This work tied in with outpatient clinical practice provided excellent translational research experience and led to the development of my PhD topic.

Summary of Research:
Problems with interpersonal relationships and emotional processing (social cognition) are commonly affected after a brain trauma. These issues often go unrecognised, particularly in the presence of apparently normal cognitive exams of memory and attention. This can have long-term impacts of rehabilitation, relationships with family and friends and often the ability to return to work. We have developed a computer-based system to repeatedly test cognitive function, including measures of social cognition. Targeting patients in the acute phase prior to discharge, we will aim to track cognitive performance over time. Combined with neuroimaging this will 1) provide better understanding of TBI and 2) improve patient care as outpatients by intervening where necessary.

Research interests:
Translational Medicine, Neuroimaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, TBI, Social Cognition, Health Economics, Motivation, Performance & Sports Psychology

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Having developed my research experience on a clinical trial and working alongside neurologists and psychologists within the NHS under the supervision of Prof. Sharp, I was encouraged to aim for this prestigious award. The generous stipend and consumables have facilitated me to continue development of a longitudinal translational research project as part of a multidisciplinary team. It has also aloud me to present our work at both national and international conferences.

Faculty of Engineering

Hamed Shariatmadar - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Hamed ShariatmadarName:  Hamed Shariatmadar
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Title of Research: Experimental and computational studies on emission characteristics of turbulent premixed flames
Email: s.shariatmadar16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s): Professor Peter Lindstedt

About me:
I studied Thermal Sciences at University of Tehran, School of Mechanical Engineering. The main focus of my research in MSc. was to reach heat flux uniformity along the heated surface by using jet impingement arrays. Being as a member in the Interferometry Laboratory had caused me to follow other methods in Laser Diagnose Techniques and Optical Flow Measurements. I also have had experiences in doing researches in both Nanofluid and Ferrofluid about their properties as well as their useful effects in boiling and condensing.

Summary of Research:
Daily growth in global environmental concerns have drawn the attention of engineers and researchers. The increased attention stems from a desire to reduce emissions while obtaining higher efficiencies. Emissions from combustion devices are a major societal concern as it may have a negative impact on human health and the environment; carcinogenic substances are resulted from unbalanced spreads of pollutants. Moreover, it is essential to reduce the contribution of emissions to climate change. Controlling the pollutant emissions while improving the device efficiency poses interesting challenges. Wide gaps remain in prior studies and care in discerning the environmental challenges associated with the various emissions will need to be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that a sustainable solution is achieved. The current research seeks to make a contribution for solving this important problem.

Research interests:
Combustion, Heat Transfer, Optical Flow Measurement, Jet Impingement, Thermal Energy, Renewable Energy, Electronics Cooling, Ferrofluids and Nanofluids

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Imperial College is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world and the IC PhD Scholarship is its most prestigious award granted to only 50 outstanding students from the whole world each year; it gives me the opportunity to work in a highly stimulating environment with a large number of highly regarded researchers. In addition, the awards not only has partially facilitated to live in London, but also help us to participate conferences around the world without a problem.

Magdalena Plotczyk - Department of Bioengineering

Magdalena PlotczykName: Magdalena Plotczyk
Department: Bioengineering
Title of Research: The role of hair follicles in dermal remodelling and cutaneous wound healing
Email: m.plotczyk16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s): Dr Claire Higgins, Dr Ben Almquist

About me:
Originally from Poland, I moved to the UK to study BSc in Biomedical Sciences at University College London and graduated with First Class Honours and the Dean’s List Award. Before my final year, I was awarded a prestigious Amgen Scholarship that gave me a chance to do a Summer Research Internship at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. Having thoroughly enjoyed this experience, I went on to take part in the International Research Programme at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. My experimental projects fueled my passion for research in Regenerative Medicine and consolidated my decision to explore this field in more detail by undertaking an MSc in Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine at University College London. After completion, I was awarded the President’s PhD Scholarship to move to Imperial College London and join Higgins lab at the Department of Bioengineering.

Summary of Research:
Clinicians have long reported that hair-bearing areas heal more rapidly than parts of the body lacking hair follicles. Following a recent clinical study demonstrating the potential of hair follicle transplantation to promote chronic wound healing, several mechanisms for the observed effect have been proposed. One of the ideas for the role of hair in wound healing focused on follicular dermal populations, dermal sheath cells in particular. Besides playing a role in the hair growth, dermal sheath cells are proposed to have a function in the repair of dermis after injury. In my PhD project, I aim to integrate the current evidence and build knowledge about the potential of human hair follicles in dermal remodelling and wound healing. I will challenge the proposed mechanisms focusing on the effect of follicular dermal populations in enhancing angiogenesis, re-innervation and extracellular matrix remodelling. I will combine in vitro cell-based assays followed by proteomic and genomic experiments with a clinical study on patients undergoing hair transplantation. In the future, the results of this study will be used to design novel therapeutic strategies for wound healing and scar remodelling.

Research interests:
During my studies I developed a strong interest in the field of Regenerative Medicine. In particular, I am fascinated in how different cell populations respond to environmental cues and interact with each other to repair or regenerate injured tissue.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Having experienced different research environments, I consider the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College a particularly stimulating place for the development of my research career. The generous funding from the President’s PhD Scholarship scheme allows me to conduct my research without worrying about financial issues related to living costs in London. In addition, the programme of events and activities gave me a chance to meet PhD students from different departments and appreciate the diversity of research at Imperial College London.

Imperial College Business School

Mara Guerra - Imperial College Business School

Mara GuerraName: Mara Guerra
Department:
Imperial College Business School
Title of Research:
Ecosystem management for technology ventures:  a competences perspective
Email:
m.guerra15@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Bart Clarysse and Anu Wadhwa

About me:
I hold a M.Sc. in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the Free University of Bolzano. During my studies there I developed an interest in innovation and a passion for research in management. I came to Imperial in 2015 to complete my M.Res., the first step towards a PhD in the business school.

Summary of Research:
My research looks at how companies can use their business ecosystem to garner resources that will aid their performance. In my first study, I will look at managing the ecosystem as a core competence of firms and at its impact on successful exit. My research is set in the solar photovoltaic industry and, more specifically, I look at the commercialization side of solar technologies.

Research interests:
My research interests involve business ecosystem and how companies can influence their external environment to their advantage. Furthermore, I am interested in signalling theory and its effect for entrepreneurial firms.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Imperial College Business School is a very exciting place to do research on entrepreneurship and innovation. The I&E department is a stimulating environment for young researchers in the field as we can interact with great faculty and we can explore our interests.