An image of Ijeoma PatrickIjeoma Patrick is a third-year Postgraduate Research student in the Department. Ijeoma is part of Professor Molly Stevens' FREng research group - a group making groundbreaking advances in the field of diagnosis.

Can you tell us about your recent research in the group of Molly Stevens? 

My research area is organic bioelectronics, and I am working on developing electronic devices, specifically organic field-effect transistors, for biosensing applications. These devices, which are often abbreviated as bioFETs, have shown a lot of promise as rapid, sensitive label-free diagnostic devices. Also, large-area high-throughput printing technology is available for organic electronic devices, allowing the potential for mass bioFET production at low cost. With the organic chemistry, microfabrication and in-vitro diagnostics expertise in the Stevens group we are developing these devices in-house to target clinically relevant biomarkers.

What was your proudest achievement this year? 

It might not be the most glamorous choice, but I am genuinely most proud of simply getting through the past year and being able to keep going to this point. I think that even in a normal year a PhD is a test of determination, perseverance and self-belief but these skills have now been tested to the extreme and to have nearly come out of the other side feels really great. Staying attuned to my emotions and taking breaks when needed have been really important to achieve this. Asking for help and sharing any worries with family, friends and colleagues has also been essential, I really could not have done it without their support. 

What was your biggest challenge this year? 

No surprises here – the pandemic! And all the consequences that came along with it. Grieving through personal losses have been the most difficult for me. Then more generally it’s just been a huge challenge to stay focused through all the chaos of the various lockdowns and tiers in addition to a few political and social situations that have been difficult to navigate. Again, staying attuned to my feelings, learning how to ask for the things I need/want, learning how to say no and leaning on my nearest and dearest in times of need has been crucial. 

What does Women at Imperial week mean to you? 

It’s a great opportunity to celebrate female staff and students at Imperial and to find out about diverse women from different departments and scientific fields. It’s a chance to share moral support, start potential collaborations and maybe even ignite new friendships. It’s easy to get stuck in the bubble of your research group/department without venturing much outside of that, and even more so this past year, so events like Women at Imperial week are a great little push to get us to open up again.