Students present at parliamentary 'STEM for Britain' event

12 March 2024

Songwei Liu with Stephen Timms MP (c) John Deehan Photography and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee
Songwei Liu with Stephen Timms MP (c) John Deehan Photography and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee
Laura Forster discussing biomedical engineering research with a judge
Laura Forster discussing biomedical engineering research with a judge

On Monday 4th March 2024, four SEMS PhD students, Laura Forster, Ziyu Guo, Songwei Liu and Francisco Ruben Parra-Perea, as well as research fellow Tim Hopkins, were invited to parliament to present their research to Ministers.

The five researchers were all shortlisted as finalists in STEM for Britain 2024 – a major scientific research poster competition and exhibition.

Founded in 1997 and organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, STEM for Britain aims to give members of both Houses of Parliament an insight into the outstanding research work being undertaken in UK universities by early-career researchers.

After submitting their abstracts demonstrating the weight of their work, they were then required to produce a poster to exhibit, outlining their research and its potential application or impact.

Tim Hopkins, who presented his work on Organ-on-a-chip technology, said “I am always really excited to share our research and it was great to do so in a completely new environment with policymakers present… The translational aspect of our research, in which we use patient’s own cells within our organ-chips to stratify and personalise treatments, really piqued the interest of MPs, judges and other scientists that I spoke to.”

Laura Forster’s work develops high-resolution imaging techniques to study wound healing and skin regeneration. “Visiting the House of Commons was an amazing experience,” she said, “It was great to get positive feedback from the judges and some genuine interest in other students about the work we have been doing, and where I hope it will take me in the coming years.”

As finalists, all five Queen Mary researchers’ posters are on display on the STEM for Britain website.

Francisco’s work, ‘Automating Airport Airside Operations through Artificial Air Traffic Control’, and Songwei’s research on empowering urban transport for a greener future, is being supported by the National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS), the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services.

John Korner from NATS said "Working with a team which understands airport operations, ATC, combined and has the advanced modelling capabilities and pedigree of the QM academic team including superb students like Francisco and Songwei is a winning combination... It’s really pleasing to see the superb work Songwei and Franciso are doing recognised, and seen by a wider community. They should both be very proud of their brilliant achievements in getting to the finals."

Songwei even met a local MP - Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham. “He was interested in the potential of decarbonising transport using my developed algorithm and encouraged me to research further and apply it to real-life scenarios soon.”

Previous Science and Engineering students have presented their work at STEM for Britain, including Thibault Degousée in 2019, and Lei Tan in 2020.

Contact:Ayden Wilkes