Systems research is found in groups across Imperial covering areas from systems engineering to systems biology, and systems medicine. Research methods, tools and techniques from different disciplines can be brought together to tackle complex challenges such as climate change, development of low-carbon energy systems, water management, resilience to disease, and innovative diagnostics and therapeutics for healthcare.
We invite you to explore the wealth of research being undertaken at the College using a systems perspective. Please get in touch - we welcome discussions with other academic, industry and policy institutions
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Systems research centres and initiatives
Transition to zero pollution
Transition to zero pollution is a Flagship initiative of the College's Academic Strategy with a vision to realise a sustainable zero pollution future. The initiative will bring researchers from different disciplines to take a systems approach to tackling pollution in all its forms.
Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation
CSEI addresses how complex infrastructure challenges are addressed in an integrated way using principles of systems engineering. We develop and apply novel data-driven and process-based modelling approaches to maximise resilience, safety and sustainability of the all pervasive infrastructure-environment system.
Centre for Integrative Systems Biology and Bioinformatics
CISBIO brings together scientists from a wide range of different fields to develop innovative interdisciplinary approaches to understanding biological problems. A key component of the interdisciplinary strategy is a repeated cycle of experimentation and modelling.
Sustainability through Life Cycle Approaches
The Imperial Network of Excellence in Sustainability through Life Cycle Approaches brings together and connects life cycle-related research and researchers across Imperial. The purpose of the Network is to foster collaborations and facilitate networking, as well as to share knowledge and contribute to advancements within the life cycle field.
Systems research programmes
Integrated Development of Low-Carbon Energy Systems (IDLES)
Hosted by the Energy Futures Lab, IDLES brings together researchers from across Imperial to provide the evidence needed to facilitate a cost-effective and secure transition to a low-carbon future. This 5-year, EPSRC-funded programme centres on whole-energy systems analysis; aiming to create a modelling tool that can better coordinate the complex interactions within the energy domain and indicate optimal forms of future, integrated, energy systems to policy makers.
Community Water Management for a Liveable London (CAMELLIA)
CAMELLIA is a a £5m programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Focusing on London, CAMELLIA brings together environmental, engineering, urban planning, socio-economic and organisational experts with institutional and industry stakeholders and citizens to co-develop a systems approach to urban water management, which will provide integrated solutions to enable required housing growth in London whilst sustainably managing water and environment in the city.
Imperial is carrying out a range of research in partnership with Sainsbury's to help the supermarket chain meet its Net Zero emissions target. The research is carried out by academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the Centre for Process Systems Engineering, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, and other academic teams within the College.
The PharmaSEL-Prosperity Partnership on Transforming synthetic drug manufacturing: novel processes, methods and tools is a multi-million pound business-led research programme led by the global pharmaceuticals company Eli Lilly and Company and the Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE) at Imperial College London and University College London aimed at delivering novel systems based engineering design methods for the rapid development of manufacturing processes for advanced synthetic drugs.
The 2050 Calculator is a uniquely open and transparent energy model that can be used by governments, stakeholders and the public to understand how to decarbonise a region or country, and to develop evidence-based policies. It was originally developed for use in the UK but is now being used in over 30 countries.
NIHR HPRU in Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards
The mission of this National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) is to address today’s most pressing chemical and radiation threats and hazards, advance understanding of how the everyday and exceptional contact we have with chemicals and radiation leads to ill health and deliver timely impact on policy to improve the long-term health of the nation
NIHR HPRU in Environmental Exposures and Health.
The mission of this National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) is to undertake the highest quality research on the health effects associated with exposure to a range of environmental pollutants, including those in the ambient and indoor settings.
CSEI 2020-2030 research strategy
A research agenda on systems approaches to infrastructure - paper highlights
- At a time of system shocks, significant underlying challenges are revealed in current approaches to delivering infrastructure, including the need for holistic assessment and that infrastructure users in many societies feel distant from nature.
- Adopting an approach that sees the natural environment as all pervasive, where the built infrastructure is inseparable from it and an adaptation of the natural environment to suit societal needs, using its materials and resources.
- Research focused on complexity, systems integration, data-driven systems engineering, infrastructure lifecycles, and the transition towards zero pollution as key themes that can further our understanding and evaluation of Infrastructure-Environment Nexus.
- The case for modelling that brings natural as well as built environments within the system boundaries to better understand infrastructure and to better assess sustainability.
- A 2030 research agenda with the aim to develop novel modelling methods, forms of model integration, and multi-criteria indicators to better understand the natural and societal impacts of infrastructure interventions under uncertainty.
Briefing Paper: Climate change and the human-made water cycle
A Grantham Institute briefing paper that considers the impact of climate change on water resources, and how the UK water sector can plan for the future by implementing a sustainable water cycle.
- Climate change is already happening, and the UK’s climate will continue to change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, with the long-term resilience of its infrastructure at risk.
- The water sector cannot adapt to the challenges of climate change in isolation, as policy effects in one sector will have indirect effects in others.
- Current demand pressures and reductions in abstraction licences – rights to draw water – are causing supply-demand deficits and this is coupled to the impacts of climate change. If no action is taken, the current high standards of service that is offered at a fair price, and without causing environmental damage, could soon be at risk.
- While impact on water flows might not yet be measurable, there is evidence to show that if water companies carry on with ‘business as usual’, we risk a future without enough water for people, business, farmers, wildlife and the environment.
- With water as the key medium that links atmospheric temperature rises to changes in human and physical systems, government, water companies and all the players in the wider sector need to play a more proactive role in accelerating the transition to a circular economy, while helping people, politicians and decision makers to understand and prepare for the risks of climate change
Read the full paper: Climate change and the human-made water cycle: Implications for UK water sector [PDF]
A systems-based approach to catchment water management
As part of a NERC-funded Innovation Academic Placement, Dr Ana Mijic, Co-Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation has produced a report in collaboration with the Environment Agency and the Royal Academy of Engineering on A systems-based approach to catchment water management as part of the Systems Water Management for Catchment Scale Processes (CASYWat) project. Dr Mijic's project looked at an innovative, systems-based approach to water management to help organisations involved in water planning and management understand how different parts of the water system interact and develop ways of managing the water environment as a whole.