STOR-i PhD students take their research to Parliament

STOR-i PhD students standing in front of the Houses of Parliament © Callum Barltrop

STEM for Britain is an annual major scientific poster competition and exhibition organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee. Two STOR-i PhD students, Eleanor D’Arcy and Callum Barltrop, presented their research as finalists within the Mathematics category of the competition on the 7th March 2022.

Their posters were selected from hundreds of applications from early stage or early career researchers and were shortlisted for the final of the competition and the honour of showing their work to politicians and a panel of expert judges at the Houses of Parliament.

Eleanor’s research, with her industrial partner EDF, has involved developing a novel methodology for estimating extreme sea levels.

She said: “Consequences of coastal flooding can be drastic, so it is fundamental that coastal defences can be built to withstand the most extreme sea levels, but also in a cost effective manner. This work uses ideas from extreme value theory to develop a statistical model that reflects the realism of sea level processes, and our results show an improvement on existing methods.

“Being selected as a STEM for Britain finalist is one of the highlights of my career so far. I feel truly honoured to present, and discuss my research, with Members of Parliament and Government officials. Given the potential impact of my work, and the urgency of climate change concerns and rising sea levels, it was highly beneficial for me to gain an insight into how Parliament deals with such scientific issues. I’d like to thank my supervisor, Jonathan Tawn, and the entire STOR-i community, especially Adam Sykulski, for their support with my application.”

Callum’s work, in collaboration with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, focuses on the development of a novel statistical methodology for modelling the combinations of extreme natural hazards, such as hot temperatures, low humidity and high winds, that are relevant to nuclear sites.

Callum said: “I applied to STEM for Britain because I believe in the importance of bridging the gap between policymaking and high-quality scientific research. My research has a heavy focus on climate change, and I used the poster session to illustrate some of the potential consequences that could occur if urgent action is not taken to address the ongoing crisis.

“I'm absolutely delighted to have been selected as one of the ten finalists in the mathematical sciences category of the STEM for Britain competition. It's an incredible feeling to see your own research being recognised and celebrated on such a big stage, and it was an honour to present my work at the Houses of Parliament. I'd like to thank Adam Sykulski for his encouragement and helpful comments on my entry, as well as my supervisor Jennifer Wadsworth for her constant support and guidance throughout the PhD process.”

Professor Jonathan Tawn, Director of Lancaster University’s STOR-i Doctoral Training Centre and Distinguished Professor of Statistics, said: “We are really proud of Callum’s and Eleanor’s achievements in being selected as finalists for this prestigious STEM for Britain event.

“In the STOR-i Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistics and Operational Research all students’ research work is focused on making impact in projects of high importance to industry and society. We also equip our students with the skills to be effective communicators of their research so it is great that Callum and Eleanor have really successfully combined these skills through the selection process. Their research will have a substantial effect on future engineering design to ensure protection of UK nuclear facilities and coastal towns against extreme weather events by changing current practices. To have such impact in their early research careers is really impressive.”

Details of the competition can be found here:

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