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Department of Life Sciences Newsletter
July 2017
DoLS Newsletter Archive
DoLS Committees & Initiatives
Health & Wellbeing
Sleek bird species adapted to flight lay more elliptical and asymmetric eggs, according to new research that overturns classic theories. The research team, led by Princeton University and including Dr Joseph Tobias from Imperial College London, measured the shapes of nearly 50,000 eggs of 1,400 bird species. Find out more here. Joe also featured on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 23rd June, listen here.
In a podcast from the Institute of Global Health Innovation,Dr Jake Baum, discusses his research in malaria parasites. Jake presented a talk at IGHI’s Global Health Forum on 22 June titled, ‘Parasitic infections – From diagnostics to treatment’ which took place at Anthony De Rothchild lecture on St. Mary’s campus. Listen to the podcast here.

Letter from HoD, Director of UG Studies and Final Year Project Coordinator

Dear PhD students, technicians,  postdocs and research fellows,

Last week our Biochemistry and Biology exam boards met to award degrees to our undergraduate students. We had an outstanding set of results this year with over 90% of our students obtaining 1st or 2:1 degrees. We awarded prizes for academic achievement to the top seven students in each stream:  Hugang Feng, Elise Donaldson, Sheryl Lim, Natalie Bevan, Young Chung, Sian Stockton and Wee Tiew (Biochemistry/Biotechnology); Marius Rebmann, Klas Wetterberg, Nicholas Tan, Elly Law, Zachary Savage, Emma Copland and Jana Sipkova (Biology).For many of our students the research project, which counts for more than a third of their final year marks, is the highlight of their degree.

Student feedback on the project has been incredibly positive and this is in large part down to the tremendous support they receive from PhD students, technicians, postdocs and research fellows. That more than half of our students will go on to Masters and PhDs next year is due in no small measure to the enthusiasm for research conveyed by you and the selfless support that you provide.

It is greatly appreciated by us as well as our students.

Kind regards
Anne, Huw and Peter 

Anne Dell, Head of Department
Huw Williams, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Peter Nixon, Final Year Project Coordinator


Steve Matthews has been invited to join The  Astbury BioStructure Laboratories Scientific Advisory Board, University of  Leeds.
Michael Stumpf has
accepted the invitation to join the Crick Review Panel which will review scientific programmes in structural and mathematical biology at the Crick.
Prizes and Awards

Masahiro Ono was awarded a 2017 AAI Early Career Faculty Travel Grant, giving an oral presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), 16 May 2017, Washington DC. In addition, he has been appointed as a Visiting Associate Professor at Kumamoto University, Japan, and an Editorial Board member for the journal PeerJ.


Click here for the latest publications from DoLS.

Athena Swan
Chair of Equal Opportunities Committee - Stephen Curry, has reviewed author, Angela Saini's new book called ‘Inferior’, which takes a hard look at women and science. Click here to take a look at Stephen's review . 

DoLS at Conferences

Cristina Lo Celso gave a talk presenting the group’s work at the International Society for Stem Cell research meeting in Boston, USA - 14-17 June. This is the leading stem cell meeting, attracting 4000+ researchers every year.

Maruf Ali was an invited speaker at the "12th International Calreticulin Workshop" in Delphi, Greece.

Thalia Chan (2nd Year BBSRC DTP student) gave an invited presentation at JuliaCon 2017 in San Francisco.

Katie Farrant, a final year PhD student, presented a talk at the 40th European Cystic Fibrosis Society in Seville, 7-9th June 2017. She has also been awarded a Young Investigator Award based on the abstract she submitted.

Thomas Meier was invited to talk at the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Bioenergetics in Andover, NH, USA (June 4-9, 2017): "Structure of the complete ATP synthase and its role as a new drug target againts tuberculosis"

Kathrin Witmer gave a talk at BioMalPar XIII: Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite in Heidelberg, Germany entitled “Malaria parasite lifecycle progression from host to vector reflected in the Plasmodium berghei epigenetic footprint”.

Other News

Imperial College has commited to San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) means that Imperial will no longer consider journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, in decisions on the hiring and promotion of academic staff. Prof Stephen Curry sat on the Review Team during Imperial's review into performance metrics. Find out more here.

President's Garden Party
Congratulations to staff from DoLS who were recognised at the President's Garden Party on Tuesday 20th June:
James Andrewes, Jacob Baum, Austin Burt, Bernadette Byrne, Pat Evans, Niki Gounaris, Anita Hall, John Heap, Allison Hunter, John Pinney, Huw Williams.
Silwood Bug's Day - Monday 24th July - 12-5pm
Bugs! Day 2017
When: Monday 24 July, 12.00pm – 5.00pm
Where: Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, SL5 7PY
What’s happening?
Bugs! Day is returning to Silwood Park this July. Come to an afternoon of free, exciting events for all the family at Imperial College’s Silwood Park campus. Join us, and find out how bugs are more than just creepy crawlies! Discover how bugs are essential to our lives, have a look at bacteria under a microscope, discover surprising facts about the bugs all around us, go on a bug hunt, find out how to invite friendly bugs into your garden, and much, much more! There’s something for everyone, from face painting and pond-dipping, to some fascinating talks from our scientists. Come along and join in with the fun! All day BBQ and refreshments available. For more information, please visit

Friday Afternoon Socials
The new Friday afternoon socials for staff in DoLS have been a great success! A big thanks to Matt Child for coming up with the idea and organising the rota. Thanks also to all the labs that have hosted a social so far: 
Nadia Guerra
Steve Matthews & Ernesto Cota
Giorgio Gilestro
Erhard Hohenester
Jake Baum
George Christophides

Matt Child & Andrew Blagborough
To volunteer to host a session, please get in touch with Matt ( 

Tech News

Imperial is a founding signatory of the Science Council's Technician Commitment. The Technician Commitment is a sector-wide initiative to help address key challenges facing technical staff working in universities. It will ensure greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technical skills for technicians across all disciplines. Find out more here.
On 31st May at the Higher Education Technicians Summit, at the University of Warwick, Imperial College pledged to support technical staff by joining the The Gatsby Foundation initiative. Click here to find out about the initiative and look out for Imperial in the video featured at the bottom of the article.
The DoLS Technicians’ Meeting was held on 6th June. Fiona May discussed updates on laboratory information systems, electronic laboratory notebook and laboratory execution systems from her recent visit to the S-Lab conference in York. A selection of careers in science were presented by Allison Hunter. This was followed by Lindsay Comalie from Learning and Development Centre who discussed career development before pizza and beer flowed.

Equipment and infrastructure update


Costings and proposals for the autoclave replacement were submitted for the Provost board held this week. The DoLS support technicians have valiantly collated data from each and every autoclave run to inform this process. The tender process is ongoing to decide the best supplier.

RCS1 plant growth rooms:
Alternative controls system to be installed as recurrent high water alarms by end of July.

Heating system leak has been identified, all safety valves replaced, spare fans in stock for fan coil units and all work is now completed.

6th floor insectary:
621 humidity issues rectified.

SAF 531 cold room:
New compressor installed, room operational again.  Of the 8 Cold Rooms, 2 have been undergoing the upgrade due to premature failure of the compressors and 6 to be completed during Summer of 17, over £150k to be spent on upgrades.


Future Technician Meetings:

IST Conference - Thursday 14th September

Early bird bookings close on 21st July – please let Allison Hunter know if you are interested in attending (



If you have ever wondered about collaborating with Pharma and not sure how to go about it - please check out the new free online database ABPI LINC. It brings together all the opportunities for collaboration available to researchers (both academics and clinicians) from free compounds, access to equipment to funding.

The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) develops, supports and promotes world-class collaboration between universities and business across the UK. Click here to find out more.

Imperial Festival
The Barkoulas lab
hosted the Worm_Lab at the Imperial Festival. The public was invited to try out experiments with UV-glowing worms and find out how scientists use these microscopic life forms to tackle fundamental questions in biology.

Useful Information

A reminder of Ineligible Costs that can no longer be approved retrospectively: 
It is NOT allowable to claim for expenditure over £100 that could be bought via ICIS i-Procurement without PRIOR approval from Department Operations Manager (Pat Evans) or the Faculty Finance Officer.
If goods CANNOT be obtained via i-Procurement we now have a virtual credit card to be used in these circumstances. Please contact the Department Operations Manager if you need to buy goods using the departmental Credit Card and it will be arranged for a number to be sent to you.
TAXIS cannot be claimed for before 9.00pm without Prior Approval from the Department Operations Manager.
All claims for Business Class travel need prior approval from the HoD.  
Click here to see a copy of the College Expense Policy.

Post-Doc Opportunity

University of Cambridge are advertising for a Post-Doc position in Conduit Lab, Department of Zoology. Click here to find out more.