Winner of the Sir William Wakeham Award 2022 announced


Dr Heather Au in the lab

Dr Heather Au in the lab

The Wakeham Award recognises outstanding postdoctoral researchers that have published original research and advanced their professional development.

Dr Heather Au from the Titirici Group has been named the winner of the Sir William Wakeham Award 2022. Dr Pavani Cherukupally and Dr Gan Huang were both highly commended.

"I feel extremely honoured to receive the award and am very grateful for the recognition." Dr Heather Au Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr Au received the award for her original research paper ‘A revised mechanistic model for sodium insertion in hard carbons’, published in Energy and Environmental Science, and for her numerous roles in teaching and supervision, serving on committees and in media and public engagement.

Commenting on her award, Dr Au said: "I feel extremely honoured to receive the award and am very grateful for the recognition. I’m proud of the paper published in Energy and Environmental Science on sodium storage in Na-ion batteries.

It is great to have not just my efforts, but those of everyone who contributed to the manuscript, acknowledged and celebrated. I count myself very lucky to work alongside such talented scientists in Professor Magda Titirici’s group!"

Highly commended

Dr Cherukupally was commended for her paper ‘Wax-wetting sponges for oil droplets recovery from frigid waters’, published in Science Advances, and Dr Huang for his paper ‘Efficiency limits of concentrating spectral-splitting hybrid photovoltaic-thermal (PV-T) solar collectors and systems’, published in Light: Science and Applications.

Dr Cherukupally said: "I aspire to solve pressing societal challenges through fundamental science and technology innovation and this recognition is a motivational catalyst that will drive me to continue working on water, environmental, and healthcare issues.

I would like to thank my mentors Daryl Williams, Huw Williams, Omar Matar, Jason Hallett, Magda Titirici, and Sara West for their advice in building an impactful research career and engaging with science communication and the public."

Dr Huang said: “I am humbled and honoured to receive the Sir Williams Wakeham highly-commended award. It gave me a lot of encouragement and motivation to continue my research on renewable energy. Many thanks to my colleagues and the department for their support.”

Postdoc achievements

Dame Julia Higgins, Chair of the award panel, commented: “I was hugely impressed by all applicants of the 2022 Wakeham awards; not only by the interdisciplinarity of the research papers, their collaborative nature and systems approach, but also by the sharp focus on sustainability.

I was delighted to see the wide contributions of our postdoctoral community to teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, outreach, mentorship, and generally to communities both in and outside of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “


The Sir William Wakeham Award was instituted in 2014 and is named after Sir William Wakeham, former Head of Chemical Engineering (1988-1996) and Deputy Rector of Imperial College London (1996-2001). He is currently a visiting Professor in the Department.


Sara West

Sara West
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6607

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