ESE Postgraduate Prizes 2024: Celebrating our PhD students


ESE Postgraduate Prize winners - James, Rayssa and Zainab.

ESE Postgraduate Prize winners - James, Rayssa and Zainab.

On 21 May 2024, we announced the winners of this year’s Earth Science and Engineering Postgraduate Prizes.

Every year, the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) awards three annual prizes to PhD students: the John S Archer Award, the Janet Watson Memorial Prize for excellence in research, and the Janet Watson Memorial Prize for good citizenship.

Earlier this week, staff, students and alumni gathered at the Royal School of Mines in South Kensington to celebrate the achievements of PhD students through these awards.

The Head of ESE, Professor Tina van de Flierdt, opened the celebration by welcoming attendees and sharing some of the latest news from ESE, including a mention of the new Rio Tinto Centre for Future Materials at Imperial.

ESE staff at the Postgraduate Prize event.

The John S Archer Award

The John S Archer Award recognises research excellence in the broad field of subsurface engineering and geoscience relating to delivering sustainable energy.

The prize is generously funded by the John S Archer Fund, established by a group of Professor Archer’s former students to honour his legacy, including Dr Ivor Ellul, who attended the ceremony and presented the award.

The 2024 winner of the John Archer Award was James Burtonshaw. James is a third-year PhD student at ESE, working with Dr Adriana Paluszny and Professor Robert Zimmerman. His work, which utilises Imperial’s Geomechanics Toolkit, is at the forefront of research in subsurface hydrogen storage, which may potentially be a crucial component of the green energy transition.

During his PhD, James has published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (in press), as well as five conference papers. He has given talks at a range of major international conferences, including the U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, the International Congress on Rock Mechanics, and AGU's Annual Meeting.

His work is also contributing to the NERC-funded SeisGreen project, a £3M collaboration between five universities aimed at understanding and mitigating the induced seismicity that might be caused by injecting fluids into rocks during subsurface green energy processes.

Dr Ivor Ellul and James Burtonshaw
Dr Ivor Ellul awarded the John Archer Award to James Burtonshaw.

The Janet Watson Memorial Prizes

ESE’s Professor Ann Muggeridge presented the winners of the Janet Watson Prizes, named in honour of British geologist and Imperial College alumnus Professor Janet Watson. These prizes reward PhD students for research excellence and good citizenship within ESE and Imperial.

Rayssa Martins was the winner of the 2024 Janet Watson Prize for Research. Her PhD research explores the mass-independent Zn isotope compositions of meteorites and the Earth, providing new insights into the origin of Earth’s volatile constituents. Her research has implications for the formation of habitable planets beyond our Solar System.

Rayssa's impressive publication record includes six manuscripts, with some under review, and her first PhD chapter published in Science in 2023.

Professor Ann Muggeridge awarded the Janet Watson Memorial prize for excellence in research to Rayssa Martins.
Professor Ann Muggeridge awarded the Janet Watson Memorial prize for excellence in research to Rayssa Martins.

Zainab Titus was awarded the 2024 Janet Watson Prize for Citizenship for her dedication to science education and outreach.

Throughout her PhD, Zainab has been an advocate for accessible education, serving as a GTA for several courses and developing outreach projects for International Women and Girls in Science Day in 2022 and 2023. She has also played a pivotal role in designing and improving course elements, and fostering an encouraging and supportive learning environment for MSc students at ESE.

Zainab's commitment to education and outreach has had a lasting impact on ESE and beyond our community, exemplifying the spirit of the Janet Watson Prize for Citizenship.

Professor Ann Muggeridge awarded the Janet Watson Memorial prize for good citizenship to Zainab Titus.
Professor Ann Muggeridge awarded the Janet Watson Memorial prize for good citizenship to Zainab Titus.

Professor Robert Zimmerman delivered the closing speech and thanked attendees, with a special mention to prize runner-ups Sepideh Goodarzi (John Archer Award runner-up) Jonah McLeod (Janet Watson research award runner-up), and Arianna Olivelli (Janet Watson citizenship runner-up).

Congratulations to our three winners and to all candidates, and thanks to their nominators for highlighting the exceptional contributions of our PhD students.


Diana Cano Bordajandi

Diana Cano Bordajandi
Department of Earth Science & Engineering

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Engineering-Earth-Sci-and-Eng, Postgraduate
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