Saving salmon and coronavirus outbreak: News from the College

A salmon ladder in Iceland

A salmon ladder in Iceland

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

From a new project to preserve safe havens for salmon, to researchers analysing the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, here is some quick-read news from across the College.

Saving salmon

The population of Wild North Atlantic Salmon is now at its lowest level ever recorded, inspiring the new Six Rivers Project , led by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) Iceland and Imperial College London, and funded by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos.

The project, which had its inaugural conference this month, is focused on preserving both the land and river ecosystems across six rivers in northeast Iceland, supporting one of the last safe havens where salmon populations still thrive.

Imperial’s Professor Guy Woodward said: “The North Atlantic Salmon is a keystone species in the ecosystem. Iceland’s rivers have simple ecosystems providing ideal research conditions. Their latitude also brings with it a potential sensitivity to the effects of climate change, more so than in other parts of the world.”

Read more about the inaugural conference of the Six Rivers Project.

Quantum conversation

Provost Ian Walmsley discussed the future of quantum computing at the Digital-Life-Design (DLD) conference in Munich.

He made the case for global collaboration in the race to develop a viable quantum computer, and spoke to German media, including BR24 .

Other participants in DLD, one of the world’s most important technology events, included Nick Clegg, Ursula von der Leyen and Garry Kasparov.

Virtual success

The first Photonics Online Meetup - a free, online-only global conference for photonics researchers - went ahead with great success this month.

The five-hour-long conference on 13 January 2020 brought together 1,100 researchers in 37 countries across six continents in real time. More than 635 of these researchers gathered at 66 local ‘hubs’ in 27 countries to join in together.

There was also a Twitter-based poster session, with 59 virtual posters averaging 3,000 views each. Videos of the event are now available online, with around 150 people downloading the videos in the first 24 hours.

Read more at the Photonics Online Meetup.

Early Years Centre reopens

The Early Years Centre (EYC) has reopened after an extensive refurbishment. Staff, parents and children attended the opening event on Thursday 16 January.

Tracy Halsey, Early Years Centre Manager, thanked staff for their efforts, and Professor Emma McCoy, Early Years Committee chair, declared the new centre open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

This 8m investment has expand the EYC’s capacity, creating an additional 56 places and refurbishing the existing indoor and outdoor space. The extra places are being introduced in response to the growing demand for affordable childcare onsite. The EYC can offer places to over 200 children and will reduce the average waiting time for a place. The EYC will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary this year.

Read more about the project on our news site.

Student Switch Off

Pembridge Hall has become one of the top halls in the UK to complete the Student Switch Off campaign’s climate change quiz. Over 1,000 Imperial students took the quiz with over 500 pledging to save energy, water and recycle. Pembridge Hall will receive 50 tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as their reward.

The Student Switch Off campaign, aimed at encouraging sustainability, also includes a microgrant scheme which gives students funding to organise their own pro-environmental activities. Imperial undergraduate, Lauren Wheeler, has become the first student in the UK to receive a microgrant to run an event - she will raise funds to help those affected by the recent wildfires in Australia.

The hall that gets the most student engagement over the year will receive 250 for their hall committee. The campaign will continue this term.

Coronavirus outbreak

researchers are helping with the global response to the spread of coronavirus. They are also leading voices on the matter in the media worldwide, appearing in over a thousand media articles and broadcast news packages about the outbreak.

An ongoing series of reports from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis and J-IDEA at Imperial is looking at the number of cases and understanding the transmissibility of the disease. Other researchers at the College are working on areas including vaccine development and helping the UK to respond.

Commentary from eleven Imperial experts has featured in global outlets including the BBC World Service , CNN , and New York Times.

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Madeleine Stone
Communications and Public Affairs

Andrew Youngson
Communications and Public Affairs

Kate Wighton
Communications and Public Affairs

Hayley Dunning
Communications and Public Affairs

Martha Nahar
Communications and Public Affairs

Andrew Scheuber
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  • Professor Ian A Walmsley FRS
    Office of the Provost
  • Miss Tracy Halsey
    Early Years Education Centre
  • Professor Neil M Ferguson
    School of Public Health
  • Professor Guy Woodward
    Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)
  • Professor Steven Riley
    School of Public Health
  • Professor Emma J McCoy
    Department of Mathematics


  • School of Public Health
  • Estates Facilities
  • Department of Physics
  • Estates Development and Projects
  • Early Years Education Centre
  • College and campus

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