Imperial College London

Imperial alumni recognised by British Science Association


Dr Yolanda Ohene

Three Imperial alumni, Yolanda Ohene, Rox Middleton and Edmund Hunt, were recently named as British Science Festival 2021 Award Lecture Winners.

Three Imperial alumni were recently named among seven of the top early career researchers in the UK as British Science Festival 2021 Award Lecture Winners.  

The Award Lectures series aims to promote open and informed discussions in issues involving science and encourage early career scientists to explore the social aspects of their research. The winning researchers are selected for cutting-edge work and committed public engagement efforts. 

The Award Lecturers will take part in a special Q&A event as part of the British Science Festival in September, where they will delve into their research and its real-world implications. Clips of all seven winners discussing their work are also available on the British Science Association's YouTube channel.

A window into the brain 

Dr Yolanda Ohene, a MSci Physics graduate and now a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Manchester, won for Agriculture, Biological and Medical sciences with the topic ‘A window into the brain.’ In her lecture, Yolanda will discuss how she has used MRI technology to develop new, ground-breaking techniques for getting inside the head. 

By visualising the way water molecules move through the blood vessels in the brain, she is bringing together biology and physics to revolutionise the way we approach brain health. 

Yolanda Ohene: A window into the brain

The secrets of nature’s shimmer 

Fellow Physics graduate Dr Rox Middleton, now a Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, is the winner for Engineering, Technology and Industry for her lecture ‘The secrets of nature’s shimmer.’ In the lecture she discusses her work examining the way tiny nanostructures in fruits and flowers produce stunning visual effects, including brilliant blue sheens.  

Attendees of the festival can find out how the naturally occurring phenomenon of structural colour has evolved independently of colour pigments and what this could mean for colourant technology, manufacture and the way we think about colour. 

Rox Middleton: The secrets of nature’s shimmer

Robot swarms

Dr Edmund Hunt, also a Physics graduate and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bristol, is the winner for Digital Innovation for his lecture 'Robot Swarms.' What can a flock of birds, a school of fish or a colony of ants teach us about the future of robotics? The swarm behaviours we see throughout our natural environment may seem a world away from the neatly-defined, programmable domain of robots and robotics. 

However, engineer Edmund believes that the way in which biological swarms organise themselves may hold the key to exciting advances in digital technology. In his lecture he discusses what the ability to design self-organised robotic swarm systems that are scalable, flexible, and robust could one day mean for human societies and our ability to monitor and protect the planet.  

Open and informed discussions 

The British Science Association has been rewarding promising early career scientists for over 20 years, many of whom are now successful science communicators. Previous Award Lecturers include Imperial graduate Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist, science communicator and presenter of the BBC’s The Sky at Night, and physicist Brian Cox. 

Antonio Benitez, Director of the British Science Festival said: “I am delighted with this year’s cohort of Award Lectures and I am looking forward welcoming them to the British Science Festival in Chelmsford this September. The Award Lectures aim to promote open and informed discussions on issues involving science. The events will actively encourage these top UK early career scientists and Festival audiences to explore together the social aspects of their research.”  

The British Science Festival is Europe’s longest standing science Festival, travelling to a different place in the United Kingdom each year. The Festival is organised by the British Science Association.  

Main image credit: Faculty of Natural Sciences


Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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