This week we meet Rhian, a PhD candidate at the Dementia Research Centre. Rhian recently helped develop IGNITE - an app designed for the early detection of dementia - and chats to us here about her PhD project and favourite coffee spots around campus.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I am studying a PhD investigating new ways to diagnose dementia early using technology. I was interested in pursuing a career in science from a young age, but never imagined I would be undertaking a project of this level - looking to develop new ways of diagnosing dementia using iPads and smartphones. The ubiquitous use of these devices could provide us with an opportunity to collect more precise data more frequently, and therefore could be a game changer when it comes to detecting early signs of dementia - it’s a really exciting project to be leading! I am unsure of what the future holds for me but I do know I will continue to contribute towards a treatment for dementia in some way.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
It was great to take part in the Pint of Science festival "Speechless" in May 2019, discussing how individuals with Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can lose aspects of language. I was fortunate to be able to present the different types of language loss that we see in FTD. It was an amazing opportunity to be able to practice public speaking - communicating science to the general public whilst raising awareness around FTD through a fun and informative event.
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
One of my great passions (and weaknesses) is coffee, and there are some amazing independent coffee shops around UCL’s Bloomsbury campus. Be sure to visit The Espresso Room, or Knockbox Coffee if you are ever near the Institute of Neurology in Queen Square!
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
I think we are very lucky in London to have so many amazing parks. The Royal Parks and gardens are beautiful, and the perfect activity on a sunny day. My favourite is Richmond which is full of wild deer! You also can’t visit London without seeing a West End show, or going to any of the incredible restaurants we have to offer.
If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?
Mental health is so important now - more than ever, with students dealing with the adjustments of working from home whilst trying to meet deadlines and remain on top of their studies. Although there are already amazing services in place at UCL, I believe there can never be enough support, and it would be great to increase services and staff to match growing demand.
Who inspires you and why?
The incredible people I work with every day. I’m very fortunate to be part of a team that is constantly striving to produce world-class research into FTD.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I love rugby! I’ve watched it from a young age and even play tag rugby socially with my friends.