Meet our Schrödinger scholars

The Schrödinger Scholarship award is open to the most outstanding students who have made an application for admission to study for a full-time PhD in the Departments of Chemistry, Life Sciences, Mathematics and Physics at Imperial.

As part of this year's Schrödinger Lecture some of our current scholars have prepared a series of animations, video presentations and posters about their research for this special virtual exhibition. We are delighted to invite you to come find out more about their work and their experience on the scholarship programme so far:


Florence Drury (Life Sciences)

Florence Drury is a PhD student in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video she tells us more about her research:

Understanding the immune response to the oomycete M. humicola in the model organism C. elegans

Florence's abstract and poster

Florence's abstract

Spatial distribution of T01G5.1 in the C. elegans epidermis. T01G5.1 is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the immune response to M. humicola. White = individual T01G5.1 mRNAs / Green = Epidermal nucleiOomycetes are pathogens that infect plants and animals including humans. Although well studied in plants, animal oomycete infections are poorly understood, meaning misdiagnosis is common and infection often results in amputation of the affected limb to avoid death.

In 2018, it was discovered that C. elegans, a microscopic worm commonly used in labs as a model organism, is naturally infected and killed by the oomycete M. humicola. The aim of my PhD is to understand the immune response to M. humicola in C. elegans, as this simple animal shares many tissues and genetic similarities with more complex animals, including humans.

My work focuses on two genes, known as receptor tyrosine kinases, that act as on/off switches in the immune response pathway. By understanding where and how these genes work, I can begin to piece together the signalling pathway that forms the immune response to oomycete infection in an animal model. This will bring us closer to finding treatments and cures for oomycete infections in humans.

Image: Spatial distribution of T01G5.1 in the C. elegans epidermis. T01G5.1 is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the immune response to M. humicolaWhite = individual T01G5.1 mRNAs / Green = Epidermal nuclei


Rosina Gibson (Chemistry)

Rosie Gibson is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. View Rosie's research poster (PDF) to learn more about her research:

Design, synthesis and Application of Photoswitches

Rosie's abstract

Rosie's abstract

My research involves designing new molecules called photoswitches. The properties and function of photoswitches can be controlled using light, providing opportunity for highly varied applications. Examples include pharmacology, where light can be used toactivate and deactivate drugs to reduce negative side effects. More recently, I have been working on a collaboration to store solar energy using these molecules. This work involves designing the molecules to include both the photoswitch structure and active structure for the function, successful synthesis and finally testing of the molecules in the desired application.


Tahiyat Huq (Physics)

Tahiyat Huq is a PhD student in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. View Tahiyat's research poster (PDF) to learn more about her research:

Nonlinear study of nanophotonic and nanostructured materials.

Tahiyat's abstract

Tahiyat's abstract

The development of versatile nanostructured materials with enhanced nonlinear optical properties is relevant for integrated and energy-efficient photonics with important applications in information and quantum technologies. A detailed characterisation of the nanomaterial systems' optical constants allows us to establish the spectral dependency and magnitude of its nonlinear susceptibility, which quantifies the nonlinear response strength.
 
In this manner, we have reported that maximum nonlinear conversion is achieved for organic lead halide perovskite, FAPbBr3, nanocrystals at the excitonic resonance, for which a third-order nonlinear susceptibility of 1.46 ± 0.19 x 10-19 m2 V-2 (1.04 x 10-11 esu) is found. This is of the same order of the best values reported for purely inorganic colloidal perovskite nanocrystals.
 
Furthermore, our work investigates nonlinear responses from materials displaying desirable properties such as Epsilon-Near-Zero materials, Gallium Phosphide, and composite nanostructured systems. 


Sharad Kumar Keshari (Mathematics)

Sharad Kumar Keshari is a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research:

Receptivity of the compressible boundary layer to entropy waves

Read Sharad's abstract and view his research poster

Sharad's abstract and poster

The turbulence that we feel while travelling in aeroplanes is the result of a process called laminar-turbulent transition in the field of fluid dynamics. Receptivity is the first stage of this process when disturbances interact with a thin layer of fluid formed on the aeroplane’s wing surface. Naturally occurring disturbances in the air include soundwaves, vorticity waves and entropy waves. Receptivity due to the first two have been researched widely in the past. My research focuses on entropy waves. It turns out that the roughness on an aeroplane's wing also plays an important role in the receptivity process. My job is to find a mathematical expression of the amplitude of the final disturbance waves produced for the cases of subsonic, transonic and supersonic oncoming flow.


Shreya Mehta (Mathematics)

Shreya Mehta is a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. Find out more about her research:

Coercive inequalities in Non Commutative Analysis

J. Inglis defined the coercive inequalities as the inequalities which ’forces’ the Markov generator and the associated semigroup to behave in a certain way, for instance, to be hypercontractive. These inequalities have already been studied on finite dimensional metric measure spaces and the commutative spaces. We want to study them in the Non-commutative spaces and for Hörmander type generators in infinite dimensions. The setup for hypercontractivity in interpolating family of Noncommutative Lp spaces associated with Gibbs state on an inductive limit C*-algebra has been introduced by Olkiewicz and Zegarlinski. In our project, we want to obtain the non-commutative analogue of the Hörmander theory and develop Perturbation theory of corresponding dirichlet forms, and proving functional inequalities for infinite systems and the Gibbs state.


Joseph Parr (Chemistry)

Joseph Parr is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research:

Growing Carbon Chains on Organometallic Networks

Joe's abstract

Joseph's abstract

This project will develop a new approach to using renewable carbon sources in chemical manufacture and is of direct relevance to carbon capture and utilisation. We aim to explore cooperative action between both earth-abundant and transition metals to construct carbon chains directly from CO and CO2. These chains can be used as building blocks to prepare complex organic molecules, useful building blocks in pharmaceutical and chemical synthesis. This work is of direct importance to a future sustainable energy economy and will provide understanding toward long-term CO2 remediation strategies. Further, this approach will compliment industrially relevant processes that use CO to make low-value fuels (Fischer-Tropsch process) or CO2 to make polymers (lactide or CO2/epoxide polymerization).


Guanchen Peng (Physics)

Guanchen Peng is a PhD student in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research: 

Atom Interferometry to probe chameleon screened dark energy

Read Guanchen's abstract and view his research poster

Guanchen's abstract and poster

The accelerating expansion of our universe has seen a few evidences for decades, however, its identity is still mysterious. One of the candidates is some unknown scalar fields. However, this model predicts an additional force that has not been observed in precise test with macroscopic objects (e.g. monitoring lunar orbits). Thus, chameleon screening mechanism has been proposed to hide this dark energy force in macroscopic objects.

Recently, quantum technology provides a precise tool to measure acceleration using the wave nature of atoms. Given an atom has such a small microscopic size, it won’t be able to hide any chameleon screened forces. Thus, atom interferometry becomes a powerful probe for this dark energy model. My work is focusing on improving the equipment to obtain more atoms and reduce background noises. Hopefully, this upgraded atomic physics experiment of better signal-to-noise ratio can cast some light about this cosmological mystery.


Georg Wachter (Life Sciences)

Georg Wachter is a PhD student in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research:

Engineering Synthetic Turing Patterns

Georg's abstract and research poster

Georg's abstract and poster

Why are we not just blobs of cells? Legendary mathematician Alan Turing thought he might know the answer: Our cells are governed by simple rulesthat lead to complex patterning. These ‘Turing patterns’ determine the shape of our brains, the spacing between our fingers, and the intricate patterns on fish skin. Engineering thesepatterns from the ground up couldlead to many medical advances –including self-healing tissuesand engineering of organoids, as well as complex biomaterials.Mathematical theory can facilitate this engineering effort by guiding biological designs into more favourable directions. In my PhD project, I thereforetake an interdisciplinary approach, tightly integrating mathematical theory with synthetic biology to engineer synthetic Turing patterns.


Zexin Wang (Mathematics)

Zexin Wang is a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research: 

Optimal Liquidation with Hidden Orders

Read Zexin's abstract and view his research poster

Zexin's abstract and poster

We study hidden orders in the context of an optimal execution problem. We formulate a stochastic control problem in which the agent continuously decides the sizes of her pegged limit and hidden orders to liquidate her position within a fixed time horizon. We derive a quasi-closed-form solution for the optimal liquidation strategy with both limit and hidden orders. Our results indicate that agent uses only hidden orders at start, and start to use a mixture of limit and hidden orders from certain cutoff time until termination. In addition, the optimal hidden order size is positively correlated with fill probability of hidden order and exposure risk and negatively correlated with terminal price impact and market activity. Our theoretic results predict smaller liquidation cost together with a bigger total liquidity provision and smaller visible liquidity provision in the limit order book as compared to apure-limit-order setup.


Jing Wu (Physics)

Jing Wu is a PhD student in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video she tells us more about her research:

Cooling molecules to quantum degeneracy

Jing's abstract

Jing's abstract

Let’s talk about the creation of a Bose-Einstein Condensate of CaF molecules.

If you happen to believe in quantum mechanics, you know that when the temperature drops to a few nanokelvin, the molecules feel so cold that most of them all stay in the ground state, and we can describe them by a uniform wave function. That’s the idea of Bose-Einstein Condensate.

With this nice little guy, we can explore decoherence, entanglement, precise measurement and fundamental physics...

Now, how do we create it?

First, we mix Ca with SF6 to have our CaF. Then we slow it down with lasers. After some scatterings, it is captured by our magnetic-optical trap. Finally, we mix the CaF with the BEC of Rb. It’s like adding ice to hot water. When the mixture reaches thermal equilibrium, our BEC of CaF is ready to collect!

The dye laser
The dye laser


Thomas Yue (Chemistry)

Thomas Yue is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, and one of the Faculty of Natural Sciences Schrödinger scholars. In this short video he tells us more about his research:

Development of Novel Bifunctional Chelates for the Creation of Site-Specifically Modified Radioimmunoconjugates

Read Thomas' abstract and view his research poster

Thomas' abstract and poster

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a powerful nuclear medicine imaging modality in which a small amount of radioactive material that produces gamma photons is injected into the body, allowingthe non-invasive detection of various diseases including manytypes of cancer, brain and heart diseases.Antibodies have long been recognised as potent vectors for delivering such medical radionuclides to disease targets with exquisitely high specificity. However, conventional strategies for the synthesis of such antibody-radionuclide conjugates yield heterogenous mixtures which result in suboptimal pharmacokinetics, giving rise to unreliable imaging results.This workseeks to circumvent these issues by developing novel bifunctional moleculestargeting low abundanceamino acidsthat would allow the creation of homogenous mixtures of well-defined antibody-radionuclide conjugates.