Presidents Scholars

Faculty of Medicine

Leon de Boer - Department of Medicine

Leon de BoerName: Leon de Boer
Department:
Medicine
Title of Research:
Novel pathways controlling T cell migration
Email:
leon.deboer@imperial.ac.uk     
Supervisor(s):
Victor Tybulewicz

About me:
I started my journey in science in Utrecht, in the Netherlands where I got my BSc in biomedical science from University College Utrecht. I got my first taste in microscopy and immunology in a lab at the university hospital there. I was lucky enough to come to Imperial College after my undergraduate where I did the MSc in immunology. I worked for a year as a research technician after my master’s degree as I wanted to get some more experience before starting a PhD. I applied for my current PhD position with professor Tybulewicz once I knew what I wanted to do. With the President’s Scholarship I was able to put together a project that builds on all my strengths and interests.

Summary of Research:
T cells are in many ways the orchestrators of the immune response, and constantly crawl around inside your lymphoid organs looking for disease signatures. I am currently looking at the molecular mechanisms that drive the movement of these cells. Although many aspects of the mechanisms underpinning cell movement have been described previously, we have discovered a kinase, WNK1, that plays a critical role in the cell’s movement. Specifically, we hypothesize WNK1 drives movements of salts and water over the cell membrane at one end of the cell, and releases them from the other end. This propels the cell forward, in the same way a balloon shoots away when you blow it up and let it go – in essence turning the cell into a small jet engine. It is my goal to work out if and how this works in more precise detail, and an extremely exciting project as it is such an uncharted territory! The project gives me the freedom to come up with innovative ways to approach the research questions, including high-tech microscopy and microfluidics chips.

Research interests:
I am very interested in microscopy as you get to directly visualize the world and see changes in cells happen in real time. I find cell movement fascinating, they are like little molecular machines moving around rapidly. Discovering how they manage this is important for our understanding of fundamental processes – this knowledge may eventually allow us to design cells that home effectively to cancers or diseases.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
First and foremost, the scholarship has allowed me to create a unique PhD position and project. My professor did not have any available funding or positions for new students, but the scholarship gave us the chance to fit me in and pursue this tailor-made project. It has allowed me to build on my research strengths and contribute to the research group from a microscopy perspective.

In addition, the scholarship has allowed me to dedicate myself to my project without worrying about finances. I am able to live in a fantastic house with three other PhD students and really make the most out of the beginning of my science career. It has put me in touch with some wonderful people with fantastic life stories in many disciplines I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered – something that I find distinctively Imperial

Nicola Davis - Department of Medicine

Nicola DavisName: Nicola Davis
Department: Division of Brain Sciences, Department of Medicine
Title of Research: The Regulatory Role of Transcriptional Regulator Nuclear Receptor Corepressor-1 in Alzheimer’s disease
Email: n.davis15@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nicoladavis02
Supervisor(s); Dr Magdalena Sastre, Dr Nelofer Syed and Prof Simone di GIovanni

About me: Before coming to Imperial College London, Nicola obtained a BSc in Human Health and Disease at Trinity College Dublin, graduating with first class honours in 2015. While carrying out her Bachelor's thesis on Erasmus in Göttingen University, she became truly fascinated with how the brain works. Nicola completed an MRes in Experimental Neuroscience with distinction at Imperial College in 2016, furthering her research experience while studying brain cancer, neurodegeneration and neuropsychiatric illnesses. Following this, she became a recipient of the President’s PhD Scholarship at Imperial College where she now investigates the mechanisms underlying potential of anti-inflammatory and pathomodulatory drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Nicola is also interested in public engagement and citizen science and has designed, coordinated and evaluated public science and research events.

Summary of Research: Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition associated with the striking decline of cognitive abilities, particularly memory. Epidemiological evidence suggests that the long term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.Part of the mechanism underlying this phenomenon is thought to lie with NSAID’s ability to interrupt the production of amyloid-beta through the modulation of PPARɣ and its associated transcriptional abilities. As a nuclear receptor, PPARɣ lies under the control of other cofactors which can alter its transcriptional activity. NCoR1 is the most thoroughly studied co-repressor of PPARɣ and we hypothesise that NCoR is pro-amyloidogenic, inhibiting PPARɣ at a DNA level. This highlights NCoR1 as a potential target for disease modulatory therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Research Interests; Neurodegeneration, epigenetics, inflammation.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College: The President’s PhD Scholarship programme allowed me to choose my supervisors and to design my own research project and it has given me ownership over my research from day one.

Manjari Trivedi - Department of Surgery & Cancer

Manjari TrivediName: Manjari Trivedi
Department: Surgery and Cancer
Title of Research: Function of Smad2/3 linker region in the regulation of TGFβ signalling
Email: m.trivedi17@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s): Dr Wei Cui

About me:
I did a 5-year integrated Master’s degree in Biotechnology in India. I learnt a lot during my studies and took part in several scientific projects throughout. This encouraged me to do an MRes in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, where I gained more extensive lab-based and research experience. After my MRes, I started my PhD in stem cell research. Stem cell research has important implications for understanding basic mechanisms involved in human development.

Summary of Research:
A cell has a lot of communication going on to survive and function normally. This is achieved by the many protein signalling networks in the cell. Any disruption to these networks can cause an imbalance and thus cause health conditions in people. One such protein signalling network is TGFβ signalling pathway, which I am studying. It is a vast network of proteins which have important functions in human development and health conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases. My study focuses at understanding the basic mechanisms involved in TGFβ signalling pathway and the crosstalk of TGFβ with other signalling pathways to control cellular functions in health and disease.

Research interests:
My research interests lie in understanding basic mechanisms of how cells function and apply this information to develop novel therapies and treatments. Currently, I am studying TGFβ signalling pathway and hope that these findings can be applied to develop better stem cell differentiation protocols in the field of regenerative medicine and can also be used for developing drug targets in cancer.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The President’s PhD award is a very prestigious scholarship and is one of the very few scholarships open to international students. I am very grateful to obtain President’s award as it has greatly helped me to focus on my research work without worrying about the financial needs.

Faculty of Natural Sciences

Sergio Perez - Department of Mathematics & Chemical Engineering

Sergio PerezName: Sergio P. Perez
Department:
Mathematics and Chemical Engineering
Title of Research:
Numerical Methods for the Equations of Dynamic Density Functional Theory
Email:
sergio.perez15@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
www.imperial.ac.uk/people/sergio.perez15
Supervisor(s):
Prof. José A. Carrillo and Prof. Serafim Kalliadasis

About me:
Sergio Pérez is President's PhD Scholar at Imperial College London, where he conducts a research project in the frontier between Applied Mathematics and Engineering. He has completed the Degree in Aerospace Engineering at Technical University of Madrid and the Master of Research in Fluid Dynamics across Scales at Imperial College London. Simultaneously, he has also completed three out of four years of the Degree in Mathematics at UNED, the Spanish Open University. He has been visiting researcher at Brown University during his PhD.

Sergio has actively collaborated in a variety of additional projects in the fields of science policy, sustainable entrepreneurship and science communication. He was selected to be Ambassador for Science for the Spanish Embassy in London in 2017, and currently serves as Director of Science Policy at the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK. With colleagues from Madrid he developed UrbanBees, with the objective of collecting air pollution from cities via drones and selected as the best drone application of Madrid in 2016.  Other technology projects have taken place at Oxford University, Tsinghua University, InDeWaG (Horizon 2020), Beihang University or the aerospace company Aernnova.

Summary of Research:
My research project focuses on the mathematical modelling of fluids and how to solve its resultant equations with computers. We aim to improve the performance of current computer algorithms by means of cutting-edge tools from supercomputers, big data and machine learning.  The myriad of fluid applications in industry and academy has a vital importance in our society, and computer simulation is a crucial tool to harness their full potential. We specifically address certain innovative applications modelled from a fluid perspective due to its large number of interacting agents, such as traffic jams, pedestrian flows and neural networks in the brain.

Research interests:
Fluid dynamics, numerical methods to solve mathematical models coming from biology or physics, finite volume schemes, high-order schemes, high performance computer techniques, partial differential equations, hyperbolic systems

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The President’s Scholarship is the most prestigious award given to PhD students at Imperial, and I feel extremely honoured for having received one. I am highly grateful to my supervisors, Serafim and José, who suggested this scholarship scheme and supported me during the competitive application process.

Vasiliki Kioupi - Centre for Environmental Policy

Name: Vasiliki Kioupi
Department:
Centre for Environmental Policy
Title of Research:
Education for a Sustainable Society
Email:
v.kioupi17@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
www.imperial.ac.uk/people/v.kioupi17
Supervisor(s):
Professor Nick Voulvoulis

About me:
I studied Biology at the University of Athens after receiving a scholarship for achieving second higher grade admission during the Entry examinations for University Education in Greece. I graduated with top of class honours having completed my undergraduate thesis in Environmental radioactivity. I continued with my MSc studies in Science and Environmental Education at the University of Athens and graduated with first class honours. My master’s thesis bridged ecology and project-based learning. After my studies I worked as Science Teacher and Environmental Educator in various public schools in Greece. Before I moved to Imperial I coordinated Education for Sustainable Development projects in a large school district in Athens (comprised of 150 schools). I acted as supervisor, teacher trainer and evaluator of school projects working in close collaboration with national and international research organisations, NGOs and governmental bodies.

Summary of Research:
My research focuses on the development and assessment of learner competences related with the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the transition to a sustainable society. I am developing a conceptual framework and assessment model for the sustainability competences to inform practices in Higher Education. I currently coordinate the Education for Sustainable Development research topic in CEP.

Research interests:

  • Systems thinking for sustainability transitions
  • Teaching and learning approaches in education for sustainability
  • Assessment and evaluation of learning
  • Curriculum development
  • Development of school educational materials to encourage student connection with nature

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
I chose the President’s PhD scholarship scheme because it is very prestigious and gives the opportunity to prospective students with excellent academic and professional backgrounds to pursue their research interests in a field of their preference. I feel highly independent in my research but at the same time very committed, acting with responsibility to proceed through my doctoral milestones. Overall, the support I receive from the President’s Scholars structure at Imperial and research supervisor helps me feel empowered to make a significant contribution in my field.

Yue Ma - Department of Physics

Name: Yue Ma
Department:
Physics
Title of Research:
Nonclassicality in Optomechanics
Email:
y.ma16@imperial.ac.uk
Supervisor(s):
Prof. Myungshik Kim

About me:
Before coming to Imperial, I did my Bachelor degree at Tsinghua University, China. I did some research on optomechanics, for example, torsional optomechanics. I am now a second year PhD student at Imperial. I am working on related areas but from a much broader point of view.

Summary of Research:
Classical mechanics and electrodynamics are enough for the description of the world we experience daily. However, with the improvement of technology, we are approaching the limit where quantum mechanics must come in for explanations of novel phenomena. How to define quantumness is a nontrivial question. We need to check possible classical counterparts. Starting from examining physical systems to see whether some usually believed quantum signatures are indeed quantum, the project aims at finding novel unambiguous quantum signatures of experimentally realisable systems. It may act as a guide towards experimental test of quantum mechanics.

Research interests:
Quantum optics, Optomechanics

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
It provides me with more freedom to choose my research topic. I can also concentrate on the research without worrying too much about financial issues.

Faculty of Engineering

Bailey Lathrop - Department of Earth Science & Engineering

Bailey LathropName: Bailey A. Lathrop
Department:
Earth Science & Engineering
Title of Research:
Geometry and growth of normal faults
Email:
b.lathrop17@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
www.imperial.ac.uk/people/b.lathrop17
Supervisor(s):
Prof. Christopher A-L. Jackson, Dr. Rebecca Bell, Prof. Atle Rotevatn

About me:
I obtained my Bachelors of Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016 with an honors thesis on analogue modelling penetrative strain in compressional systems with a ductile detachment. After finishing my bachelors, I took a 5 month break from academia to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (West Coast, USA). In 2017 I did a year-long Fulbright fellowship with the Centro de Investigations Geológicas-CONICET in La Plata, Argentina looking at facies architecture and sequence stratigraphy of low-order marine sequences in the Neuquén Basin, Argentina. In my free time I like to rock climb, and I am a member of the Imperial College Mountaineering Club.

Summary of Research:
Knowing how normal faults grow provides the basis of our understanding of rift basin development and the distribution and size of potentially hazardous earthquakes. There has been much debate on the timing of how faults accumulate length and displacement, and how other factors such as fault size, rock type, and regional tectonic setting affect this. To answer these questions, I am creating a large, open-access global database of fault length, displacement, timing, lithology, pre-exiting faulting, and a range of other factors, along with I am also conducting seismic fault analysis in the North Carnarvon Basin, Australia to learn about fault development in that region.

Research interests:
Structural Geology, Tectonics, Basin Analysis

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The President’s PhD scholarship gave me the opportunity to study at my top choice of PhD programs and gives me invaluable financial security while living in London.

Georgios Rizos - Department of Computing

Georgios RizosName: Georgios Rizos
Department:
Computing
Title of Research: C
uriosity in Reinforcement Learning via Bayesian Neural Networks
Email:
georgios.rizos12@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
https://georgiosrizos.github.io/
Supervisor(s):
Dr Bjoern Schuller

About me:
I have received a Diploma in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece in 2012 and an MSc in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College in 2013. After that, I worked as a Research Assistant in the Information Technologies Institute of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH-ITI) for almost 4 years, working on the EU funded projects REVEAL and STEP, focusing on machine learning research on networked data gathered from online social media.

Summary of Research:
Reinforcement learning is the computational framework for describing a perception-decision-action loop in intelligent agents, be they either physical robots or digital applications. I am focusing on self-motivated or curious reinforcement learning agents, i.e., the kind that learn action policies by explicitly attempting to increase knowledge about their environment. The way I am addressing this task is by utilising the Bayesian variety of deep neural networks, i.e., powerful statistical models with the ability to both learn complex associations between variables and the uncertainty thereof.

Research interests:
Naturally, I am interested in reinforcement learning theory – especially in cases where the external reward is sparse and the agent has to be equipped with a mechanism of internal motivation for exploring its environment. I am also very interested in deep learning, especially for modelling sequential data, as well as in ways of using it for capturing uncertainty. As for data, I mostly work with datasets related to affective computing, i.e., the modelling of emotions from human video and speech.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
Imperial College, by means of its scholarship scheme, offers financial safety to its early stage researchers allowing them to focus with undivided attention on their research. The scheme also includes a generous allowance for research related expenses (consumables, travel etc.). Finally, my experience was such, that applying for it was a very straightforward process.

Lloyd Fung - Department of Aeronautics

Lloyd FungName: Lloyd Fung
Department: Aeronautics
Title of Research:
Modelling the pattern formation of an active suspension of micro-swimmers
Email:
lloyd.fung@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
www.linkedin.com/in/lloydfung/
Supervisor(s):
Dr Yongyun Hwang

About me:
Lloyd Fung is a President’s PhD Scholar at Imperial College London, where he investigates the macroscopic fluid phenomenon generated by an active suspension of micro-swimmers like bacterial and algae cells. He has completed an MEng at the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London and was enlisted on the Dean’s List of the Faculty of Engineering for all four years of study. Recently, he has been visiting DAMTP of the University of Cambridge to collaborate with other research groups in biophysics.

Lloyd has experience across multiple fields in the industry, ranging from high-speed railway (Hyperloop), aerospace (Rolls-Royce), automotive (Cummins) to UAV start-ups (Zipline). He also volunteered in Rotaract and e.quinox, a student-led project in rural electrification.

Summary of Research:
A suspension of fluid with swimming particles in it would often exhibit streaming patterns even when the active fluid is initially at rest. For example, a shallow suspension of algae would result in bioconvection duo to geotaxis and gyrotaxis.

This multi-disciplinary project is to investigate the gyrotactic behaviour of swimming particles, and how they couple with fluid flow, resulting in different pattern formation. The key objective of the research is to deepen the understanding of the collective behaviour of the swimming organisms in the presence of a variety of flow configurations. Part of the project is to solve for the rheology of the suspension (i.e. the diffusion/dispersion) based on mathematical modelling.

The mathematical challenge the project aims to overcome is fundamental. The result, in the form of a numerical simulation, will allow us to model algal or bacterial suspension in a wide variety of scenario, including bio-reactors for bio-fuel and algal blooms in the ocean.

Research interests:
Fluid Dynamics, Active Suspension, Gyrotaxis, Geotaxis, Biophysics, algae, bacteria, swimming particles, Bioconvection, rheology, numerical methods, Direct Numerical Simulation, Computational Fluid Dynamics

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The scholarship provides me with a unique and rare opportunity to dive into a fundamental mathematical challenge in resolving the rheology of active suspension. Despite recent interest in this bio-physical topic and its potential application in oceanography and bio-fuel, such a multi-disciplinary topic and its related industry is still relatively new and in need of more research funding. The scholarship has not only helped me overcome the obstacles in starting the research in this area, but its generous stipend also enables me to collaborate with other research groups.

George Samaras - Department of Mechanical Engineering

George SamarasName: George Samaras
Department:
Mechanical Engineering
Title of Research:
Micro-mechanical model development for predicting the effect of microstructure on bulk behaviour of aerated soft solids
Email:
georgios.samaras17@ic.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/gfsamaras/
Supervisor(s):
Prof. Maria Charalambides, Dr. Philippa Cann, Dr. Marc Masen, Prof. Yannis Hardalupas

About me:
On July 24th 2015, I obtained, from the University of Thessaly with a First class Honour Honours degree, the Diploma in Mechanical Engineering focusing in the field of computational alloy thermodynamics and kinetics. My M.Sc. project entitled "Consideration of creep and carburization in oil refineries" awarded AS the National best Master Thesis in Materials Science and Engineering. Before joining Imperial College for my PhD studies, I worked as a research assistant at École Polytechique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL) in the investigation of early phase abdominal aortic aneurysm, using finite element analysis simulations

Summary of Research:
Soft food systems are often used in confectionery products, such as emulsion or foam fillings, to provide consumers with a unique experience. Traditionally, the mechanical and rheological properties of these systems are studied in combination with sensory evaluation to describe their in-mouth flow properties. However, oral processing of food is very complex and several multi-scale mechanisms take place at the same time in the mouth. This is especially noticeable when dealing with more complex systems, e.g. when hard particles (inclusions) are included within a semi solid system, or products with different micro- and macroscopic structure, e.g. aerated systems. This hinders predictions of the in-mouth behaviour of the food. Knowledge of this behaviour is crucial as it is directly linked to sensory perception. The aim of the project is to develop a multi-scale thermo-mechanical computational model for simulating the interaction between aerated fluid and solid structures. This includes first bite model for fracture and progressive damage of product into particles and subsequent shearing of particles in tongue/palate contact whilst they heat up, flow, mix with saliva and form cohesive bolus. Necessary rheological experiments, in compression and shear of boluses, will be developed to provide data for validating simulations.

Research interests:
Fracture Mechanics, Food Engineering, Tribology

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The President’s PhD scholarship scheme is the most prestigious scholarship scheme at Imperial College London and offers an opportunity of being part of a great community.

Sean McBeath - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Sean McBeathName: Sean T. McBeath
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Title of Research: In-situ electrosynthesis of ferrate and permanganate for organic micropollutant oxidation in drinking water treatment
Email: s.mcbeath17@imperial.ac.uk

About me:
I was born and raised in Maple Ridge (Vancouver), Canada, where I also received both my Bachelor and Masters of Applied Science degrees at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering. My research and industrial experience working for the RES’EAU-WaterNET focused on developing and implementing drinking water treatment technologies to underserved rural and small communities. For the past six year, I have also been a founding board member for a non-profit organisation, the Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation, which funds up to three yearly research grant to graduate projects investigating clean and renewable energy technologies and processes.

Summary of Research:
I am researching and developing a new electrochemical drinking water treatment technology, with a particular interest in its application for remote, small and developing communities. While many sophisticated and conventional methods of water treatment exist for even the harshest of waters, these technologies and processes frequently have an unfavourable economy-of-scale for small communities. Additionally, remote communities’ water treatment options are limited due to hindered accessibility for needed treatment materials like chemicals, equipment and resources when there are mechanical or technical failures. The technology I am researching may be able to address many of these problems.

The research will investigate the oxidation of organic contaminants, as well as providing disinfection against micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria), by using new electrode materials for the generation of highly oxidising chemical species that are iron and manganese based; two elements already commonly found in natural ground waters. Our research will primarily focus on both the generation of these oxidants, as well as their effectiveness for degrading concerning immerging micropollutants commonly found in water sources all around the world, such as pesticides/herbicides.

Research interests:
My research interests fall within the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector, particularly drinking water treatment technology and process development for small and remote community applications. I’m especially interested in electrochemical and sustainable technologies that eliminate the chemical supply chains associated with conventional water treatment processes.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The President’s Scholarship is the sole reason I have been afforded the luxury to study at Imperial College London. The scholarship scheme has given my supervisor and I the ability to be unrestricted on the scope of our research and not limited by funds or external sponsors. The generous stipend has also allowed me to focus intensely on my research, without having to be distracted by living costs and other financial worries.

Imperial College Business School

Shubhechyya Ghosal - Imperial College Business School

Shubhechyya GhosalName:  Shubhechyya Ghosal
Department: Business School
Title of Research: Optimization Under Uncertainty
Email: s.ghosal16@imperial.ac.uk
Personal Web Page address: www.imperial.ac.uk/people/s.ghosal16
Supervisor(s): Dr. Wolfram Wiesemann, Dr. Martin Haugh

About me:
I obtained a Masters’ degree in Applied Mathematics from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee in 2016. Subsequently I obtained an MRes degree from Imperial College Business School in 2017 before beginning my PhD in September 2017.

Summary of Research:
I work on Vehicle Routing Problems using tools from Distributionally Robust Optimisation.

Research interests:
Robust Optimisation, Distributionally Robust Optimisation, Combinatorial Optimisation, Vehicle Routing.

Why did you choose the scholarship scheme at Imperial College:
The scholarship provides an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the best opportunities available at Imperial. The scholarship has helped me immensely in my research, network and various trainings.