Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Dr Gemma Bale

Gemma Bale

18 September 2018

My name is Gemma Bale and I am a Research Associate in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory. I have been at UCL for seven years. I took an undergraduate degree in Physics at Imperial College London, and joined a doctoral training programme in Electrical and Electronic Engineering called Photonic Systems Development, because I was interested in optics. I then became really interested in using light for medical applications so I took a PhD in Biomedical Optics within the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering. And I'm still here today!

My work focuses on developing new optical neuromonitoring devices for the measurement of brain oxygenation and metabolism, to help diagnose and treat brain injury in newborn babies. I am normally doing one of two things. Running experiments, or analysing the results from them. I design optical medical devices, and test them in the lab and then, ultimately, in the hospital. The first device I built is now being used in the neonatal intensive care unit at UCLH, and I think my proudest moment was seeing that device being used in the hospital for the first time. It was nerve-wracking, but so exciting when it worked.

I have also been developing a public engagement platform (MetaboLight.org) to share our research via national and regional science expos such as The Big Bang Fair and the British Science Festival. In 2015 I was awarded the UCL Provost's Engineering Engager of the Year Award for my work in communicating science to the public. 

The year I was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship, which provides an opportunity for scientists to work at the heart of a major media outlet, and spent two weeks on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, contributing to debates and stories on climate change, heatwaves, and artificial intelligence.