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Awards and Fellowships

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Many of our i-sense team members have received awards or fellowships over the past year - let’s take a closer look at a few of our award updates:


Professor Ed Manley

Professor Manley works within the Treat Flagship of i-sense. This October, he was awarded the 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prize for Geography from Leverhulme Trust. This prize is awarded to thirty exceptional researchers from Archaeology, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, Geography and Languages and Literatures. Philip Leverhulme prizes are awarded to researchers whose work has had international impact and whose future research career is ‘exceptionally promising’. Ed will use the £100,000 award for his research into how humans navigate urban spaces. Read more about the project here.


Dr Ben Miller

Dr Ben Miller is a postdoctoral researcher in the McKendry lab at UCL. Ben was awarded the prestigious Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship and in early 2023 will be completing his fellowship at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. Read more about the Fellowship programme here.

In addition, earlier this year Ben presented as part of the “Advances in Nanodiamonds for Sensing, Biomedical and Other Novel Applications” (NM05) symposium at the Materials Research Society 2022, and was selected as the NM05 Symposium Young Researcher Award winner. Ben presented two talks on “Harnessing Spin-Enhanced Nanodiamonds for Early Disease Diagnosis”. These covered the topic of using nanodiamonds for lateral flow diagnostics, employing selective spin modulation using an amplitude-modulated electromagnetic field to improve contrast, and therefore improve detection limits up to 105-fold over gold nanoparticle-based tests, allowing us to detect single copies of HIV RNA with just a 10-minute isothermal amplification step.


Dr Simon Pederson

Simon is a postdoctoral researcher in the Stevens group (Imperial). He was awarded the International Postdoctoral fellowship from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (IRFD). Simon’s research focuses on designing and building miniature Raman-readers for diagnostics tests, deployed at the point of need. He also aims to develop novel unsupervised machine learning algorithms for handling mixed signals stemming from multiplexed reporter molecules, to push the boundaries of multiplexed point-of-care testing outside clinical settings.


Tabasom Haghighi

Tabasom is a PhD student in the Stevens group (Imperial). In February, she was awarded the i-sense Partnership Research Fund for her malaria diagnostics work. This fellowship focuses on developing a rapid diagnostic test for detection of malaria transmission competency. One of the main reasons for the current lack of success in control and eradication of malaria is the lack of simple and cheap point-of-care tests that can detect the transmission competent individual within the population. Unfortunately, the currently available tests are not capable of detecting the whole reservoir of parasite carriers in the population, especially in asymptomatic individuals. Tabasom’s team’s test aims to detect the whole pool of transmission competent individuals, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. They hope to be able to use the test as a tool in the malaria control and elimination toolkit. Alongside the transmission blocking drugs (currently under development), the test would provide a robust platform for stopping the spread of malaria.


John-Paul Ayrton

John is a PhD student at the Thomas lab (UCL). In March, John won the Best Presentation Award at the 2022 Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Analytical Biosciences Early Career Researcher Meeting. The Analytical Biosciences Group (ABG) is one of the many Interest Groups within the RSC, bringing together members with an interest in the use of analytical chemistry techniques in "bio" applications, and promoting the development and propagation of such techniques. John presented on novel immobilisation strategies of affinity proteins to gold nanoparticles, employing genetic engineering techniques and molecular electrostatic simulations, with the scope to improve paratope display and the conjugate's functionality. 


Anna Byrne

Anna is the Science Writer and Communications Manager based in the McKendry group (UCL). In September, she received the UCL Health and the Public Impact Fellowship. The Institute for Epidemiology and Health Care, UCL Health of the Public, and the UCL Office of the Vice-Provost Research, Innovation & Global Engagement (RIGE) launched this new fellowship programme this year, to support 10 participants across UCL to enhance the impact of research through building knowledge, skills and experience in engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders. Her project will involve creating engaging accessible information for young people on the topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Read more about her project and other Fellows’ projects here.