UCL News


UCL academic selected for Crucible Innovation Labs

3 July 2007

Lecturer Dr Pragya Agarwal (UCL Geomatic Engineering) is among the leading young researchers participating in the NESTA Crucible programme aimed at promoting 'creative thinkers' of today that are actively engaged in forging innovative and interdisciplinary research.

Pragya Agarwal  

30 early career scientists came together for the first of three innovation labs on 2 July 2007. Organised by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), the labs are designed to stimulate innovation by bringing together high-achieving young researchers from different scientific disciplines to develop new ideas and explore the wider potential of their work.

The first lab focused on media engagement and science policy. This included a day hosted by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. During one of the sessions participants were given the opportunity to probe MPs on science during a question time run with new science think tank, Newton's Apple.

"This is a really exciting opportunity", said Dr Agarwal. "I applied to Crucible because of its focus on inter-disciplinarity. My research has always been cross-disciplinary and I am hoping that this will push me further in challenging my current research through interactions  with scientists from disciplines that I usually do not get a chance to discuss my work with. Engaging with media and MPs made me think further of the significance of public engagement and how young researchers can contribute to defining research priorities for the future."

Around 150 applications were received for this year's Crucible and awardees include university-based researchers in as varied subjects as astrophysics and bacterial genomics, industry representatives from corporations such as Hewlett-Packard and Proctor & Gamble and fellows from institutes such as the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Macaulay Institute.

Helen Gresty, Executive Director of Innovation Programmes at NESTA, said: "The UK's scientific research is well known as some of the strongest in the world. The group of talented scientists that Crucible has attracted this year is proof of why we hold such a prestigious position. As the social and economic challenges we face become ever more pressing, it is vital that we step outside our comfortable and established ways of working and begin to consider the exciting opportunities that Crucible-style collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas could begin to present."

To find out more, use the links at the bottom of this article.

Image: Dr Agarwal

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UCL Geomatic Engineering