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International Women's Day

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This International Women's Day, women in i-sense share what inspires and motivates them, why they love working in science, what it means to be a woman in science, and how they're working to #Pressforprogress. 


Prof Rachel McKendry

Director of i-sense EPSRC IRC 
London Centre for Nanotechnology
and Division of Medicine, UCL

Rachel McKendry’s research lies at the cutting edge of nanotechnology, telecommunication, big data, infectious diseases and public health. Professor McKendry is the Director of i-sense EPSRC IRC, has six Nature group papers, more than £20M in research grants, advised government, and is passionate about public engagement. Recently, Professor McKendry led the Rosalind Franklin Appathon, a national app competition to inspire the next generation of women in STEMM, and Co-Chairs the Athena SWAN Committee at the London Centre for Nanotechnology.


Prof Rosanna Peeling

Professor & Chair of Diagnostic Research, LSHTM
i-sense EPSRC IRC Flagship 1 lead

“Today, I would like to remember my father who recognised my inquisitive nature and without whose urging and constant mentoring, I would not have become a scientist. I would also like to acknowledge the loving support of my husband, Jim, and my sons, Patrick and Tim, for their unswerving support in my return to a scientific career after more than ten years away from a rapidly moving field of study.”

Trained as a medical microbiologist, Professor Peeling had been Research Coordinator and Head of Diagnostics Research at the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme on Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Chief of the Canadian National Laboratory for Sexually Transmitted Diseases before assuming her current position. Professor Peeling’s work at LSHTM spans from facilitating test development and evaluation to translation of evidence to policy, appropriate placement of new diagnostic technologies into different health care settings to ensure maximum impact, especially for at risk populations marginalised from care. She established the International Diagnostics Centre (IDC) to provide a global hub for advocating the value of diagnostics, fostering innovation, and accelerating regulatory approval and access to quality-assured diagnostics to improve global health. In her role as Flagship 1 lead for i-sense EPSRC IRC, Professor Peeling is responsible to research into system level perspectives of end-user needs.

Professor Peeling would also like to commend the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for conferring its highest honour, that of Honorary Fellow, to three outstanding women leaders in global health; Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa and first woman to hold this post; Professor Janet Hemmingway, Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; and Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.


Dr Marta Broto Aviles

Postdoctoral Research Associate 
Stevens group, i-sense EPSRC IRC
Imperial College London

Marta Broto Aviles is a postdoc whose main motivation is to contribute to a better diagnosis of patient health. Using bioengineered systems to develop new clinical diagnostic platforms, Dr Broto Aviles aims to be able to help monitor, and subsequently improve, patient health status. Her current work is on lateral flow immunoassay designs and preparing and characterising nanomaterial-based components for biomarker detection.


Prof Ann Blandford

Professor & Director of UCL Institute of Digital Health, UCL
i-sense EPSRC IRC 

“To quote Karen Sparck-Jones, ‘computing is too important to be left to men’; all disciplines need diverse perspectives to thrive,” says Professor Blandford.

Ann Blandford is Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the Department of Computer Science at UCL, and a member of UCL Interaction Centre. In 2013, Professor Blandford was recognised as an academic role model in the School of Life and Medical Sciences, and in 2015, was appointed as the first Director of the UCL Institute of Digital Health. Since 2016, she has chaired the UK Computing Research Committee. She is a Suffrage Science award holder and also a parent and a grandparent.


Colleen Loynachan

PhD Student
Stevens group, i-sense EPSRC IRC
Imperial College London

Colleen Loynachan is currently a PhD student interested in the field of biomaterials, especially in developing nanomaterial-based sensing systems for infectious diseases. Her current goal is to develop functional biomaterials that translate directly into diagnostics, therapies or advancements in medicine, while working towards a doctorate in Materials Science & Engineering. Specifically, Colleen would like to design materials to be used in treatments for cancer and global health diagnostics. Most recently, Colleen was lead author on a paper published in ACS Nano that presented findings from a landmark study into the development of a paper-based point-of-care test for HIV that surpasses the sensitivity of the current industrial gold standard for detection of p24, an early biomarker for HIV.


Isabel Bennett

PhD Student
McKendry group, i-sense EPSRC IRC
London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL

Isabel Bennett is a PhD student who is working on using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to detect and investigate the action of antimicrobials. She is using the AFM to take high resolution images of the action of novel antimicrobial compounds on live bacterial cells to see what happens to individual cells in real time. Recently, Isabel has visited schools in the UK to teach young people about antibiotic resistance and show them that science is for everyone.


Dr Eleanor Gray

Postdoctoral Research Associate 
McKendry group, i-sense EPSRC IRC
London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL

Eleanor Gray moved to UCL in 2009 where she began in the laboratory of Professor Deenan Pillay, working with sequencing of viral samples from patient cohorts in translational studies. After four years, she re-entered the field of diagnostics in the London Centre for Nanotechnology working with various different technology platforms in multidisciplinary studies of diagnostics development. Today, Dr Gray works as part of i-sense EPSRC IRC, continuing her research into diagnostics for HIV and is a senior member of the group who supports and advises young researchers throughout their projects.


Dr Alice Pyne

MRC/UKRI Innovation Fellow
London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL
i-sense EPSRC IRC

Alice Pyne was recently awarded the Medical Research Council UK Research Innovation Rutherford Research Fellowship. Throughout this Fellowship, she will be working at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, in partnership with the John Innes Centre (Norwich), the Francis Crick Institute, (London) and Bruker (USA). Dr Pyne will work on tools to aid in the development of new anti-cancer and antibiotic drugs using microscope techniques that she has pioneered throughout her academic career. By taking photos of individual DNA molecules using a high resolution microscope, Dr Pyne propose to ‘see’ how they interact with the molecular machinery in our body, which are the targets of major anti-cancer and antibiotic therapeutics, aiding in the development of novel pharmaceuticals. 


Dr Aneesha Singh

Research Associate 
UCL Interaction Centre
i-sense EPSRC IRC

Aneesha Singh is a Human-Computer Interaction Researcher at the UCL Interaction Centre. She is interested in the design, adoption and use of personal health and wellbeing technologies in everyday contexts. Dr Singh is working in the research areas of digital health, ubiquitous computing, multisensory feedback and wearable technology. She received her PhD at UCL in Human Computer Interaction and her MSc in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems from University of Sussex. Before that Dr Singh has previously worked in industry in various roles as a software developer, analyst and project leader, and as a technical journalist.

Dr Jo Gibbs

Senior Clinical Researcher
Faculty of Pop Health Sceinces 
i-sense EPSRC IRC

Jo Gibbs is a Senior Clinical Research Associate and Honorary Consultant in Sexual Health and HIV. Dr Gibbs’ research interests include digital health, health service delivery and public health. Her current research focus is the development and evaluation of innovative online clinical care pathways from diagnostics to online management.