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ECS rising stars take their research to Parliament

Published: 
9 March 2017
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Researchers from Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Southampton will be attending Parliament next week (Monday 13 March) to present their research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of STEM for Britain.

Xiaoqing Shi and Miguel Xavier – both PhD students from the Nanoelectronics and Nanotechnology research group of the Electronics and Computer Sciences Department – were shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament. Their research will be presented as posters judged against those of dozens of other scientists and engineers in the only national competition of its kind.

Xiaoqing is presenting her research about developing a new patterning technique that uses a focused beam of helium ions on novel materials. This could enable the rapid prototyping of novel future nanoelectronic devices and ultimately offers exciting possibilities to continue the miniaturization of electronics into the sub-10 nm regime. She says, “It is my honour to be part of such a prestigious event. STEM for Britain offers a great platform for me to not only showcase some of the best results achieved during my PhD, but also an opportunity to promote our research and engineering in general to the policymakers and influencers. I look forward to meeting politicians, judges and other scientists and telling them about the exciting work we are carrying out at the University of Southampton.”

Miguel’s research poster, shows the development of new techniques based on microfluidics to isolate skeletal stem cells from human bone marrow and promote bone regeneration. He says, “This competition is a fantastic opportunity for early researchers to engage with the public and to convey the significance of the amazing work that is done every day at the University of Southampton. It is also exciting to be able to communicate my work to people who can directly impact on the perception of the importance of scientific research in our lives.”

Joining Xiaoqing and Miguel in the competition are three other researchers from the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering. Christopher Desira and Dr Matthew Aldous are from Phyics & Astronomy and Dr Edward Rogers is from the Faculty’s Optoelectronics Research Centre. • Christopher is a final year undergraduate. His thesis focuses on the classification of small (sub-kilometer) near-Earth asteroids, the most common kind and the first that will be reached by humans and exploited for their rich resources. • Matthew is working on a compact, portable system for generating ultracold atoms- a universal platform for quantum sensing which will unlock its unparalleled potential to the world. • Edward has built a new type of microscope that does not need to label the samples with the toxic dyes that are used by competing systems, allowing us to look at living systems in their natural state in unprecedented detail.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. “These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Taking place during British Science Week, STEM for Britain aims to encourage, support and promote Britain's early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians. Awards are made on the basis of the very best research work and results together with researchers’ ability to communicate their work to a lay audience.

The research from Xiaoqing and Miguel has been entered into the Engineering session of the competition, while Christopher, Matthew and Edward have been entered into the Physics session. Each session will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony, judged by leading academics. The gold medalist from each session receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society and the Council for Mathematical Sciences, with financial support from the Warwick Manufacturing Group, Clay Mathematics Institute, Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, Institute of Biomedical Science and the Society of Chemical Industry

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