CSAR PhD Students Awards - 2016

Winners of the eight CSAR 2016 Student Awards

The Vice Chancellor, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, entertained the 2016 award winners in his office together with representatives of the CSAR council, and benefactors.

The following eight persons were awarded a 2016 CSAR Student Award and describe their research in the following way

Katerina Christofidou is a 4th year student in Materials Science and Metallurgy. Her referee is Dr. Howard Stone:
In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, gas turbine manufacturers continuously strive towards the design of jet engines offering reduced emissions and increased efficiency. This necessitates that new jet engines operate at higher temperatures and pressures. However, novel materials are required, which are capable of withstanding the inimical conditions encountered in these engines. In collaboration with Rolls-Royce,, this need was addressed and new alloys were produced for applications in turbine disc components. In this project alloy compositions were designed and their microstructure characterised. These materials are currently undergoing full scale testing at Rolls-Royce and are in contention for entry into service.

Ashish Goel is a 4th year student in Engineering. His referee is Professor V. S. Deshpande:
This research aims to help improve the protective systems in the military vehicles to mitigate the effect of landmine blasts and improve survivability of the occupants. Using numerical techniques and laboratory experiments, I investigate the impact of granular material (soil) on the structure (vehicle hull). The results uncover the strategies to refine the existing protective systems in military vehicles. It sheds light on less recognized issues of soil flow due to blast, soil particle shape and vehicle hull properties. Other potential application of this research is to develop shelters for the areas prone to landslides and avalanches.

Nicholas Jones is a 3rd year student in MRC Epidemiology Unit. His referee is Dr. Pablo Monsivais:
I have been linking commercial price data to a nationally-representative nutrition survey, allowing us to explore the relationship between diet content and costs across the UK. I am now using mathematical techniques to produce optimal diet plans which would enable people to meet the recommendations to eat a healthy diet at the lowest possible cost. This could be used to develop public health policies aiming to reduce inequalities in health arising from food consumption. The first publication from my PhD in this area was well-received and attracted prominent coverage in a number of national newspapers and on Channel 4 News.

Douwe Kiela is a 3rd year student in Computer Laboratory. His referee is Dr. Stephen Clark:
How can human-computer interaction be improved? The obvious answer: to make computers better at understanding meaning. My research is concerned with making computers behave more like humans: we don't need a dictionary to know what the meaning of "chair" is, if we've seen one before. Computer understanding improves significantly when it is perceptually grounded. My work is the first to go beyond visual grounding and adds audio and even smell and taste. This is extremely exciting for the possibilities that it raises: maybe one day a computer can describe the taste of fine wine, or describe the intricacies of Bach.

Girish Nivarti is a 3rd year student in Engineering. His referee is Professor Stewart Cant:
Progress in aerospace travel is being severely limited because we do not yet understand the most basic effects of turbulence on combustion. Turbulence is ubiquitous, unavoidable and under certain conditions it is even beneficial. Uncontrolled turbulence can extinguish the flame inside an aircraft engine in mid-flight. Under other conditions, turbulence can cause rocket fuel to burn faster and explode. My research seeks to characterise mathematically how turbulence in various conditions directs combustion one way or another. The resulting models will help predict and prevent failure during flight and will let us travel safely wherever we go - on Earth or beyond.

Wilberth Solano is a 4th year student in Materials Science and Metallurgy. His referee is Professor H.K.D.H. Bhadeshia:
One of the main sources of inefficiency in wind turbines is the premature failure of large bearings used inside the gearboxes, usually at 10% of the expected life. During my PhD, I have proved that the current understanding of their failure mechanism is incorrect. Through controlled experiments, I have not only found what the real damage mechanism is, but have also come up with simple and counterintuitive solutions that increase the life of the steel by three times and protect against hydrogen embrittlement. By taking this project to industry, wind energy would have a greater margin against conventional sources.

CSAR Student Awards for early-stage PhD research

Nathaniel Davis is a 2nd year student in Physics. His referee is Professor Neil Greenham:
Currently 1.8 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water. Drinking contaminated water eposes individuals to preventable health risks, such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. It has been found that boiling water is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa, but this comes at a high energy cost which is not always viable. These pathogenic organisms can also be destroyed with a short dose of ultraviolet light (275nm). My work involves the development of a cheap and stable ultraviolet light emitting diode for the use of water sanitation.

A powerpoint file describing the work is available here.

Alain Naef is a 2nd year student in History. His referee is Dr. David Chambers:
History PhDs rarely have real world applications; this project does. I ask whether policymakers can influence exchange rates without generating inflation. Sterilized intervention or intervention that does not affect the money supply (and hence does not generate inflation) is said to be ineffective according to theoretical macroeconomics. But macroeconomics focus on recent intervention experiences when I test intervention effectiveness with a new out-of-sample dataset. This dataset explores Bank of England intervention from 1931 to 1972 to test if sterilised intervention works. These historical findings have practical application for developing countries today who intervene frequently on the foreign exchange market.

The Winners were presented with their awards by Dr Jonathan Milner prior to the lecture by Dr Nigel Bennée on the 29th February 2016

Previous award winners

Find out about the winners awarded in previous years: