STOR-i PhD students showcase work in Parliament

Photograph of STOR-i PhD students Matt Speers and Carla Pinkney outside the Houses of Parliament.
Carla Pinkney and Matt Speers at the STEM4Britain Final

STEM for Britain is an annual major scientific poster competition and exhibition. Two STOR-i PhD students, Carla Pinkney and Matt Speers, showcased their work in the Houses of Parliament on 4th March after reaching the Mathematics final of the competition.

Selected from hundreds of applicants nationwide to reach the final of STEM for BRITAIN, organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, the students presented their research to expert judges and MPs.

Carla’s research, in collaboration with STOR-i academic partner University of Washington, focusses on the development of novel statistical methodology to help us understand how large numbers of neurons in the brain interact. Carla’s supervisors are Dr Carolina Euan and Dr Alex Gibberd; the latter stated: “Carla is a rare student who is both technically gifted and an excellent communicator. It was no surprise to us (as supervisors) that she was successful within the STEM for BRITAIN competition as she has already used her skills to help develop collaborations between statisticians and neuroscientists (working between the UK and US). Carla's participation in STEM for BRITAIN further demonstrates her eagerness to communicate her research to a broader, non-specialist audience.”

Matt’s work, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia and Shell, has seen the development of novel statistical methodology for the risk assessment of man-made offshore structures. In the face of increasing trends in extreme weather, this is an essential step in improving the safety of personnel and reducing risk to the ocean environment. Matt’s supervisors are Distinguished Professor Jonathan Tawn, Professor Phil Jonathan and Dr David Randell from Shell. Professor Phil Jonathan said: “It’s great that Matt got to the final of STEM for BRITAIN at the Houses of Parliament. From talking to Matt afterwards, he enjoyed being able to meet such a variety of people at the event, and being able to share his research in a very different environment!”

For both students, presenting their work to a much wider community was a new experience. The skills developed through this experience could have far-reaching effects that extend beyond their PhD.

Matt said: “Being selected to present my work at the STEM for Britain final has been a major highlight of my PhD so far and I am very proud to have been involved with the event. It was a privilege to be able to share my ideas with the MPs and scientific experts who attended and I greatly appreciate all of the interest I received. I also really enjoyed hearing the work of other early career researchers, and I am very grateful to the committee for considering me alongside so many incredible finalists.”

Carla said: “I was delighted to have been selected as a STEM for Britain finalist. I feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity to present and discuss my research with expert judges and Members of Parliament. It was a great experience, and a highlight of my PhD journey so far. I also enjoyed learning about the fascinating work of other early career researchers.”

Distinguished Professor Jonathan Tawn, Director of STOR-i, was enthusiastic about the student’s participation, saying: “We are so proud of Carla and Matt for being selected to present their research at Parliament. It is an immense privilege to participate in this competition across all areas of STEM and over all universities in the UK. This is a great achievement to have two students from the STOR-i Centre for Doctoral Training being awarded the opportunity. This selection recognises the high-quality research outputs of importance to society and the students’ ability to communicate their work to broad audiences.”

Details of the competition can be found here:

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