Imperial College London

“Do you remember what Grandma used to tell us about the Daintree?”


view of rainforest landscape

The Daintree rainforest in Australia is the subject of the winning entry

A new competition challenged postgraduate students from across the College to communicate their research in a creative and compelling way.

Run by Imperial’s Graduate School, the 4Cs Science Communication Competition aims to provide postgraduate students from all disciplines across the College with the chance to develop their writing, presentation and communication skills.

Students were asked to write up to 500 words on an aspect of their research in language appropriate for a non-specialist audience. They were tasked with being creative and engaging while also remaining scientifically accurate.

Below you can read excerpts of the four winning entries of the writing competition:

1st prize: Stephanie Martin, Life Sciences

Do you remember what Grandma used to tell us about the Daintree? That luscious mythical jungle that used to inhabit these lands in Australia that we never really believed ever existed. I have included in this letter an old photograph that I found in an album marked ‘2019’, everything she told us about is there; trees too tall to climb, six-foot tall birds of electric blue running through the undergrowth, flowers, butterflies, and frogs… they’re all there.

The binders were full of scientific research from ages past. One paper caught my attention, ‘An Investigation into the Physiology of Trees and Lianas under Experimental Drought Conditions – by Stephanie Martin.’ I read the paper, taking in the (extremely sophisticated) statistical analyses and reading the (detailed and worthy of a distinction) manuscript written by this long since departed Master’s student.

Read the full piece

2nd prize: Oluwalogbon Akinnola, Bioengineering

If the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase ‘hand model’ is David Duchovny in the 2001 film Zoolander, then congratulations on your excellent taste. Unfortunately, however, no one was willing to fund a PhD researching his performance. No, in the world of Biomechanics hand model means something different yet no less appealing.

Our hands are how we communicate and manipulate the world around us. Feeding ourselves, checking the bathwater, even holding the medium this text is printed on: we use our hands to keep us healthy, happy, and safe. 

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3rd Prize: Sarah Hayes, School of Public Health

Here in the UK we think of dogs as mans’ best friend. But in some regions of the world they can be our deadliest enemy.

Meet Amos (name changed to protect identity).

He’s a 5-year-old boy living in rural Tanzania.

Ten days ago, he was bitten by a rabid dog.

Anyone exposed to rabies through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal must receive treatment immediately.

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People's Choice: Jemimah-Sandra Samuel, Earth Science and Engineering

People require gas to heat up homes, cook meals, and perhaps fuel vehicles. This gas comes from beneath the earth’s surface, from rock structures underneath the ground; reservoirs beyond human reach or possible survival. Consequently, to produce and utilise gas on earth’s surface, high-quality equipment and machinery costing several million pounds are set-up and sent to underground gas reserves, with the prospect of retrieving this energy resource.

Read the full piece

Presenting success

The competition also challenged students to hone their presentation skills. Hosted by Dr Simon Foster from the Department of Physics, an event earlier in May saw postgrad students compete by giving three minute talks on their research. Topics ranged from ocean simulation to chlamydia testing, from quantum entanglement to data-driven energy strategy.

three people standing in a row
L to R: Emmanuel, Alastair and Leah

The winners were:

1st prize: Alastair Shipman, Civil & Environmental Engineering
2nd prize: Emmanuel Okwelogu, National Heart and Lung Institute
3rd prize: Leah Fitzpatrick, Life Sciences
People's Choice: Alastair Shipman, Civil & Environmental Engineering


Elizabeth Nixon

Elizabeth Nixon
Communications and Public Affairs

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6699

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