Recent Successes

May 2015 - Provost's Engineering Engagement Awards

The Provost’s Engineering Engagement awards were announced on Monday 11th May. Congratulations to Jo Brunker, Gemma Bale and Jenny Griffiths, who were recognised for their excellence in engaging young people in engineering.

Gemma Bale won the "Postgraduate Student" category, Jenny Griffiths was a runner-up in the "Professional / Support Staff" category, while Jo Brunker was also a runner-up in the "Academic / Research Staff (Grade 6&7)" category.

Gemma Bale UCL Engineering Engagement Awards

Jenny Griffiths UCL Engineering Engagement Awards

Jo Brunker UCL Engineering Engagement Awards

Click here to find out more about the Provost’s Engineering Engagement awards.

April 2015 - Anne Vanhoestenberghe wins MRC Science Suffrage award

Anne Vanhoestenberghe Suffrage Award

We are delighted to announce that former employee, Dr Anne Vanhoestenberge, has recently been awarded an MRC Science Suffrage Award, which celebrates the achievements of leading female researchers in the fields of science and engineering, while recalling the women’s suffrage movement.

More details on the awards can be found here, and more photos from the event can be found here.

Congratulations to Anne!

February 2015 - UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering PHD Student Gemma Bale appears in Science Showoff Event

On February 17th 2015, Science Showoff, the chaotic science cabaret night, joined up with the International Year of Light for an evening of fun-packed science performance on the topic of light.

Gemma Bale Science Showoff

UCL PHD Student Gemma Bale performed a comedy set which she summarised: "Can you use light to measure brain activity? No? Well I can. I’ll be showing off science from my PhD at UCL, focusing (light) on blood, brains and babies."

Gemma Bale Science Showoff 2

January 2015 - UCL Lunch Hour Lecture, "How can we deal with gender bias in the world of science?"

On January 29th 2015, Prof Snezana Djordjevic, from the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, gave a UCL Lunch Hour Lecture titled "How can we deal with gender bias in the world of science?"

Drawing from various sources including personal experiences, the Athena SWAN Charter, and published studies, Prof Djordjevic addressed prejudice and gender bias in scientific environment and the ways in which these could and should be tackled. 

Watch the lecture on youtube here.

December 2014 - Karin Shmueli wins a Top Teacher Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr Karin Shmueli has won a 'Top Teacher Award'.

Throughout the course of the year, UCL Medical School students are given the opportunity to nominate teachers who were particularly helpful or inspiring to them during their studies. In 2013-14 students cast over 1000 votes, from which there are 65 award winners. 

Further details on the awards can be found here.

Congratulations to Karin!

October 2014 - Clare Elwell wins an Inspirational Teaching Award

Elwell Inspiration Awards

We are delighted to announce that Professor Clare Elwell is the winner of the Inspirational Teaching Award, part of the Inspiration Awards for Women 2014.

Congratulations to Clare! 

These Inspiration Awards for Women are run by the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity and celebrate the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them either through the media or through their astounding achievements in their everyday lives.

If you would like to know more about the Inspiration Awards for Women, please do visit their website  where you can read about all the other winners. The awards ceremony was held at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea on the 2nd October.

September 2014 - Teaching Awards and nominations for Karin Shmueli and Clare Elwell

We are delighted to announce that Karin Shmueli has been voted for a 'Top Teacher Award' by UCL Medical School students. The formal announcement will appear here.

Furthermore Clare Elwell has been nominated for an Inspiration Teaching Award as part of the  Inspiration Awards for Women 2014.

The Inspiration Awards for Women are run by the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity and celebrate the achievements of remarkable women who inspire those around them either through the media or through their astounding achievements in their everyday lives. The annual awards ceremony will take place at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea.

There are a number of award categories recognising inspirational and aspirational women from both public and academic life and it is fantastic for the disciplines of physics and engineering to be represented  through Clare.

We encourage you all to VOTE FOR CLARE!  

August 2014 - Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering achieve 100% overall satisfaction in National Student Survey

The recent National Student Survey recently showed that 86% of undergraduates  are now satisfied  with their overall experience at UCL, which places the university 68th in the UK – 32 places higher than in 2013.

Excitingly, our department was one of only 4 departments at UCL who have achieved 100% overall satisfaction in 2014. The other departments at UCL who achieved this were The Bartlett School of Contstruction and Project Management, UCL Speech Sciences and  UCL Science & Technology Studies.

Congratulations are due to all our teaching and support staff for this fantastic achievement.

March 2014 - UCL Medical Physicists and a science fan support women's collective in Gambia

UCL Medical Physicists and a science fan support women's collective in Gambia

A UCL field study on infant brain development, and a chance encounter at a science communication event in a London pub, have changed the lives of women in a rural community in Keneba, The Gambia.

Researchers from UCL Medical Physics & Bioengineering and Babylab, Birkbeck College were visiting the Medical Research Council field station in the village of Keneba in rural Gambia to investigate brain development in malnourished infants. Field workers from the centre – which provides free healthcare for the region, as well as a base for collecting research data – explained the project to local mothers and asked if they would be willing to have their infants participate in the study.

The all-female team from UCL, led by Professor Clare Elwell (UCL Medical Physics & Bioengineering) were overwhelmed by the response, and the efforts made by Gambian families to help their study. Many mothers and infants travelled for over an hour on unmade roads so they could assist the researchers, having seen the good done by the clinic.

While they visited the village, members of a local women's collective, known as the Kaafo, invited the researchers to come and see the work they had been doing to transform a barren patch of land into a garden. The main aim of the Kaafo is to engage in small scale communal subsistence farming and income generating activities of which gardening is the main activity. The researchers were impressed with the dedication and hard work of the women in creating the garden, and the incredibly supportive response from the community in helping with the study, and asked if there was anything they could do to help the Kaafo. The local women explained that they had secured a larger plot of land and that they had started a subscription scheme to save money to enable them to start farming the larger plot of land. Funds were required to purchase items ranging from nails and fencing materials to a solar powered pump to supply water from a borehole. The team returned to London with plans to raise funds to help the Kaafo.

Previous Keneba Garden

(The original Keneba garden)

Some weeks later, researchers from the team were participating in a pub-based evening of science communication as part of the Pint of Science series. At the end of the talk they told the London pub audience of the Kaafo's needs and asked for donations. Seeing just a few coins in the bucket city financier Peter Brewer, a member of the audience, approached the fundraisers and offered to contribute a cheque for the whole amount.

Peter realised how much fundraising it would take to collect the amount in small bits, and was confident that through the community connections of the researchers the money would go directly to the people who needed it. Peter explained:

“I love events like Pint of Science where I can talk to real scientists and catch up with the science I love, and this seemed like a great opportunity to give to a community that were enabling that science to happen."

Professor Elwell was welcomed back to Keneba on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2014 with her family to see the opened farm which has enabled the Kaafo to farm all year round and have the freedom to grow what they need. 

Professor Elwell with members of the Kaafo

Nanyana Ceesay, the President of the Kaafo explained:

"This new farm is all fenced and it is fantastic. That is the number one difference we notice, we don't worry about animals destroying our crops anymore. The second difference is the space, the garden is huge compared to the one we had before – it’s at least twenty times bigger. The Kaafo are now growing what they want to grow. Here we can farm all year round.  We have more freedom in what we can grow and how much we can harvest. We are very happy about these benefits. We've only started it just now but it's made a huge difference and we expect even bigger benefits in the future. This has strengthened the bond between us as women. We are there for each other, standing for each other, and working together."

New solar powered pump

(The new solar powered pump supplying water from a borehole)

Professor Elwell says:

"We were inspired by these women, who were working on an all-woman project like us. We appreciated their help and were inspired by their farming initiative. Peter Brewer’s donation has really changed their lives and that of their community."

To listen to Professor Elwell’s full interview with the members of the Kaafo please click on the following link:

The project currently being researched by Professor Elwell and her group uses an optical imaging technique investigate brain developing in infants. Previous studies using this technique have looked at infants at risk of autism in the UK – see a video here. In this stream of research, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they are looking for key indicators of malnutrition so that aid can be given at the point where it will do the most good. You can keep up with the work of the group via their website and via their Twitter feed @globalfnirs

March 2014 - PhD Poster Display

The Medical Physics PhD poster display was held on the 3rd March with presentations from 1st and 2nd year PhD students. The standard was very high.

A small committee judged the posters and the first prize was awarded to the following:

1st year – Chiaki Crews

2nd year – Nir Goren

February 2014 - Karin Shmueli demonstrates her research to Frank Dobson MP

Dr Karin Shmueli & Frank Dobson MP Feb 2014

Following on from her 'Week in Westminster' as part of her Royal Society scientist-MP pairing scheme, in which she shadowed Frank Dobson MP for two days, Frank visited the department for a few hours. As Dr Karin Shmueli writes:

"Instead of two days, I had just a couple of hours to give Frank a flavour of my role as a researcher and academic when he came to visit me here in the department. As well as distilling an explanation of my research into a 10-minute presentation, I showed Frank around the MRI-PET facility in the UCLH Macmillan Cancer Centre. This is the first facility of its kind in the UK and is fully integrated to allow a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to be acquired at the same time as MRI images. This means it has the best of both worlds: the high-resolution soft tissue information from MRI can be combined with simultaneous measures of metabolism or perfusion available from PET. Together with UCLH Medical Physicist Dr Anna Barnes, we explained the system to Frank as well as the combination of MRI and PET safety precautions. Clinicians and radiographers from the MRI-PET team talked Frank through a plethora of clinical images from the system including dynamic MRI ‘videos’ of a beating heart showing regions of infarcted tissue that were much less contractile in the cine-MRI and also had lower perfusion in the PET images.

To give him a window into the breadth of research going on here, Professor Jem Hebden, Head of Department, kindly showed Frank around the Department where he also met with two PhD students who showed him their imaging research. Frank demonstrated his interest in our work by asking some insightful questions.

Dr Shmueli, Frank Dobson MP and Prof Hebden

As I wanted Frank to appreciate the wider context to my research projects and work in the department, we also met with the Dean of the UCL faculty of Engineering, Professor Anthony Finkelstein and UCL’s new Provost, Professor Michael Arthur. The discussions ranged from past UCL provosts, UCL’s strength in biomedical science, its global impact, brand-recognition and desire to “Change the World” to UCL’s role in the local London community, politics and economy, particularly in the light of several huge infrastructure projects planned near UCL in Mr Dobson’s constituency."

February 2014 - PhD Showcase

The annual Medical Physics & Bioengineering PhD Showcase was held on the 21st February 2014 where all third year PhD students gave a short and accessible 'snapshot' of their key research goals using just 5 PowerPoint slides to give a greater awareness of the breadth of research activity within the department.

The event was concluded with a prize giving and the winners were as follows:

Alex Menys - Communication of Ideas (picture unavailable)

Emma Malone - Enthusiasm and Engagement

PhD Showcase - Emma Malone

Thomas Millard - Presentation Style

PhD Showcase- Tom Millard

Our thanks are expressed to the Departmental Social Committee who coordinated the event alongside Dr Anne Vanhoestenberghe.

PhD Showcase Organising Committee

December 2013 - Building Bridges between Scientists & Policy Makers

Dr Karin Shmueli & Frank Dobson MP

This winter, Karin Shmueli particiapted in the Royal Society scientist-MP pairing scheme and was matched with Frank Dobson, MP for Holborn & St Pancras.

She explains:

The scheme aims to build lasting connections between scientists and parliamentarians and help them gain worthwhile insights into the policy-making process as well as the science behind it.

As well as UCL being in his constituency, Frank also has experience in health policy having been Secretary of State for Health from May 1997 until October 1999. My research aims to develop new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques and maximise their potential to offer earlier diagnosis and improved understanding of disease. My current focus is on creating MR images sensitive to the magnetic susceptibility of tissues. Tissue magnetic susceptibility depends on its microstructure and composition, e.g. iron and myelin content, which are altered in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis, making MRI susceptibility images a promising tool to investigate the effects of diseases like these.

During a fascinating “Week in Westminster” we had a packed schedule of lectures on the role of science in Parliament and Government. I was thrilled that, during my brief visit to the House of Lords, I heard MRI mentioned in a speech on a motion noting the contribution of high quality education to economic growth. Baroness Morgan spoke about universities driving innovation through fundamental and translational research that helps to create new products and services:

“For instance, Sir Peter Mansfield began fundamental research on MRI, which was then licensed to transform imaging and diagnosis worldwide.”

This was personally relevant since Sir Peter was my PhD supervisor’s PhD supervisor! I had the privilege of shadowing Mr Dobson for two days, gaining a real insight into his role and perspectives as an MP as well as hearing plenty of entertaining anecdotes from his many years in Westminster and serving his constituency.

As well as seeing first-hand that UCL, the Royal Society and the Houses of Parliament each have their very own grand Royal Mace, I learned a lot about the different ways scientists like myself can get involved in informing and supporting policy-making and policy-makers in Westminster.

November 2013 - Departmental Prize Award Ceremony

The annual student Prize Award Ceremony was held on November 27, 2013 in Room MPEB 2.14. The prize winners were as follows:

  • Geraldine Chee: John Clifton Prize for most outstanding performance by a non-final year undergraduate.
  • Anna Zamir: Sidney Russ Prize for most oustanding performance by a final year undergraduate.
  • Anne-Marie Stapleton: Joseph Rotblat Prize for most outstanding performance by an MSc student.
  • Eftychia Nafti: IPEM Prize for best MSc project.
  • Isabel Christie: Medical Physics & Bioengineering PhD Prize.
Medical Physics 2013 Student Prize Winners

October 2013 - Departmental PhD Prize 2013

There were five nominations for the 2013 Departmental PhD Prize and we are pleased to announce that the winner was Isabel Christie.

September 2013 - Female Prizes

Geraldine Chee has been awarded the 2013 John Clifton Prize for the most outstanding performance by a non final-year undergraduate student.

Anna Zamir has been awarded the Sidney Russ Prize for the most outstanding performance by a final year undergraduate.

August 2013 - Dr. Anne Vanhoestenberghe leaves to take up an Aspire lectureship at UCL.


We are proud to announce that our colleague Dr. Anne Vanhoestenberghe, who has been working in the Implanted Devices group at UCL Medical Physics & Bioengineering for ten years, will be taking up an Aspire Lectureship at the UCL Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculo-skeletal Science. Anne commented that:

“Research in rehabilitation and assistive technology needs to be truly multi-disciplinary to deliver patient benefits, so it’s great to be part of a new team that will combine our strengths and insights. This new role will allow me to develop clinical applications for my work through new collaborations with the medical specialists at the IOMS.”

Anne has been a truly invaluable asset to the department and was recently part of the team who worked on our recent Athena SWAN submission. We wish her all the best in her new position, and look forward to future collaborations.

July 2013 - Marta Caballero travels to Ghana

One of our 2013 medical physics graduates, Marta Caballero, has traveled to Ghana along with another UCL graduate Ewa Karczewska, as part of a Medical Physics Educational and Outreach Project. The project was inspired by UCL’s "paRTner" initiative, a collaboration between UCL and two cancer centres in Ghana to train radiotherapists in West Africa. The project is funded by the Institute of Physics and you can read about Marta and Ewa's exploits on the Institute of Physics website.

July 2013 - Jo Brunker and Paul Doolan - commended for event in parliament.

Jo Brunker & Paul Doolan IOP Parliament

PhD students Paul Doolan and Jo Brunker recently contributed to an Insitute of Physics event in parliament. The Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics was keen to note that “Jo and Paul were a delight to work with, and they added a welcome element of interactivity to the event”.

June 2013 - Graduating students continuing their interests abroad.

Graduating student Mary Neal received a travel grant to visit schools in Ghana and promote cancer awareness in June 2013.

May 2013 - Medical Physics & Bioengineering Open Day

Mattclarkson open day

On May 31, 2013, the UCL Department of Medical Physics & Bioengineering held its inaugural Open Day, with exhibitions by our world-leading research groups in medical imaging, radiotherapy and bioengineering. The event was a great success with both internal and external visitors as well as a number of school groups attending.

May 2013 - Unconscious Bias Training

On the May 1, our department hosted an Unconscious Bias Training Session, led by Dr. Marie Stewart. This session was extremely well attended by our staff and Dr. Stewart explained the concept of unconscious bias is and how it permeates through our daily lives. The workshop focused on developing the skills to recognise when unconscious bias arises and how we should adjust our behaviour accordingly.

April 2013 - Award of Athena SWAN Bronze Award

Following our first Athena SWAN submission in November 2012 we were rewarded with a bronze award in April 2013. We are now currently implementing the Action Plan submitted as part of our award and in due course we plan to submit an application for a silver award.

March 2013 - Jo Brunker - SET for Britain Award


Jo Brunker, a PhD student in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, struck Gold at a competition in the House of Commons, for the excellence of her research, walking away with a £3,000 prize on the March 27, 2013.

Jo presented her research on a new technique to study blood flow in tumours to dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of the poster competition SET for Britain, on Monday 18 March. Her research, developing a new imaging technique called "photoacoustic Doppler flowmetry" which can provide new insights into the behavior of tumours, was judged against 59 other shortlisted researchers’ work and came out on top. Jo said "I am delighted that my research was so well received. Winning this medal makes me all the more determined to continue with my research so that I can make a difference to our understanding and treatment of tumours."

March 2013 Clare Elwell – Suffrage Science Award

Clare Elwell Suffrage Science Award

On Friday March 8, Professor Clare Elwell, along with 11 other leading researchers, was honoured for her research work at a Suffrage Science Event.

Suffrage Science is an annual Medical Research Council event which celebrates the achievements of leading female researchers in physical sciences and engineering with medical applications, while recalling the historic women’s suffrage movement.

Descendants of suffragist leader Emmeline Pankhurst awarded the women bespoke heirloom jewellery, reminiscent of the specially crafted jewellery received by noted women of the suffrage movement.

In 2015 these women and their fellow nominees will pass on their heirloom jewellery to the next group of excellent female scientists and communicators, in a bid to encourage them to make their way to the top.

More details about the Suffrage Science 2013 awards can be found here. UCL’s official publicity statement of the Suffrage Science event can be found here.

February 2013 - Focus On The Positive Awards

We have had two winners of UCL’s Focus on the Positive event, run by the UCL Public Engagement Unit. UCL researchers pitch an idea to an audience of 120 people, who then vote to decide which idea they want to support.

Gibrill Kallon (a third year undergraduate) proposed a project to develop a simple system using ultraviolet light to detect carcinogenic toxins in crops for use by farming communities in Sierra Leone.

Kate Ricketts (a post-doctoral researcher) won funding for a network for UK radiotherapy professionals to support and train colleagues in Ghana and elsewhere in Western Africa.

Grants Awarded to Female Researchers

Karin Shmueli has won a £124K EPSRC First Grant on "Optimising magnetic susceptibility mapping to enhance MRI of microbubbles".

Clare Elwell has won an £1.23 million pound grant from the EPSRC on "Multimodal neuroimaging: novel engineering solutions for clinical applications and assistive technologies".