Biochemical Engineering


Dr Sunny Bains (Senior Teaching Fellow)

Dr Sunny Bains

Dr Sunny Bains is a scientist, journalist, editor, educator, Editorial Director of the technology news site Engineering Inspiration (ENGins) and founder and Managing Director of Form & Content Media Ltd, a company that delivers specialized technical content to technical organisations.

Sunny Bains grew up in Scotland and moved to London to study physics in 1985. She started the Holographics International magazine and directory while an undergraduate, later selling the title to SPIE—the International Society for Optical Engineering—when she graduated from Queen Mary College. She remained at SPIE until hired as news editor at Laser Focus World (LFW), then did an MS in journalism at Boston University and went freelance.

Over the next few years she continued to work for LFW and SPIE, as well as magazines including The EconomistElectronic Engineering TimesNew ScientistScience, and Wired. Bains corresponded from Boston, Edinburgh, and the San Francisco Bay area (where she also taught technical journalism at the University of California at Berkeley) before returning to London at the end of 1999.

After almost 12-years teaching part time at Imperial College London (while keeping up her freelance practice and starting her company), Sunny moved to University College London to work on the Integrated Engineering Programme, which she now does through the UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering.

As a writer, Sunny's interests have ranged from holographic associative memories and analogue neural networks to nanotech-based sensors and artificial muscles. A particular theme of her work had been emerging technologies for artificial intelligence, so in 1997 she started a PhD on the subject. Her thesis, Physical Computation and Embodied Artificial Intelligence, was inspired by many of the scientists she wrote about as a journalist, and her work involved analyzing and bringing together various disparate fields and approaches to the subject.

You can find a full list of her publications here.

Dr Sunny Bains

Dr Sunny Bains


Bernard Katz Building


  • Principal Teaching Fellow
    Dept of Biochemical Engineering
    Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL


For full details of Sunny's work and technical interests, please go to her website at http://www.sunnybains.com.
Award year Qualification Institution
ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow
2016 FHEA
Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
2005 PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Artificial Intelligence
Open University
1994 MS
Master of Science
Boston University
1990 BSc Hons
Bachelor of Science
Queen Mary College, University of London

Dr Sunny Bains is a scientist, journalist, editor, and expert in technical communication. At UCL Engineering she has developed a programme to teach technical argument, writing, presentation, and professional skills to undergraduates and postgraduates across the faculty. She is the founder and Editorial Director of Engineering Inspiration <http://uclengins.org>, a website intended to draw young engineering and physical scientists into journals and proceedings via less-specialist articles in the technical and trade press.

For more than two decades, Sunny's main focus was as a tech journalist, writing for magazines including The Economist, Science, New Scientist, EE Times, Laser Focus World, and Wired. At the same time, she was busy launching and editing publications, starting with Holographics International Magazine in the late 80s. While working on staff at SPIE (The International Society for Optics and Photonics) she founded several titles including Optical Computing and Robotics and Machine Perception. With Form & Content Media, her company, and she went on to help create SPIE Newsroom, The Neuromorphic Engineer, SPE Plastics Research Online and The Briefing.

She is currently on the Executive Board of the Association of British Science Writers, the Governance Committee of the National Association of Science Writers, is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a member of both the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Sunny is still passionate about the many subjects that she followed for two decades as a scientist and journalist: holography and displays; optical, photonic, and analog computing; machine intelligence; and neuromorphic engineering. She is currently writing a book about technical analysis and communication.