Protecting pollinators and funding future leaders: News from the College

Here’s a batch of fresh news and announcements from across Imperial.

From new tools to help pollinators such as bees, to URKI funding for groundbreaking research into human breastmilk, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Sharing knowledge to save bees

Imperial’s citizen science initiative the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) has combined some of its best pollinator resources and is launching them across Europe, starting in Italy.

With funding from the National Geographic Society, the new project, called X-Polli:Nation, combines OPAL’s Polli:Nation survey about bees and other pollinators with its Planting for Pollinators tool , designed to make any outside space pollinator-friendly.

Students at St Alban’s School in Hampshire have been instrumental in helping bring the project to life. X-Polli:Nation lead, Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser said: “We want to provide a platform to support students to take direct action on human-induced changes to the natural world.”

Read more on OPAL’s website.

Europe selects new research chief

The European Research Council has appointed nanoscientist Mauro Ferrari as its new President , succeeding Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. Professor Ferrari will oversee the ERC’s multi-billion euro investment in science and innovation when he takes up the post later this year.

The selection panel included Imperial President Alice Gast and was chaired by former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. Imperial is Europe’s fourth greatest recipient of ERC funding. The ERC’s founding President was the late Imperial biologist Fotis Kafatos.

Tomorrow’s doctors, today’s teachers

Dr Ged Murtagh , senior lecturer in Clinical Communication, has developed an innovative approach to the way he teaches students in Imperial’s MBBS course. A group of Year 5 students were tasked with crafting a range of teaching sessions for their peers, based on content they felt was missing or under-emphasised on their course.

Students gathered to present their findings at St Mary’s Hospital on 15 May. One group employed an actor and did quickfire roleplay of breaking bad news, dealing with an angry patient, and handling poor time management.

Students were allowed to watch back recordings of their first attempt, tweak their technique and try once again. Feedback suggests the year group found their peer’s teaching sessions useful and refreshing.

Future leader

Imperial researcher Dr Natalie Shenker has been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship by UK Research and Innovation. The scheme , worth £900 million in total, will support 550 academics to develop their ground-breaking research for up to seven years.

Dr Shenker has received funding to continue her research into human breast milk , including identifying the risk of a mother developing breast cancer and exploring the benefits of donor breast milk for mildly premature babies.

In a speech last week announcing the awards, Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore outlined his ambition to, “maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in science and innovation and building on our historic legacy.”

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Andrew Youngson
Communications and Public Affairs

Andrew Scheuber
Communications and Public Affairs


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