Strong representation at final of UK STEM prize



Stem for Britain
L-R: Carolina Tacchella, Ana Ribeiro, Abdullah Abdulaziz, Connor Bain and Tiago dos Santos Gomes

In what is believed to be a first for Heriot-Watt University, four students and a postdoctoral research associate have all reached the final of one of the UK’s most influential competitions for early-stage researchers.

The group, belonging to the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, were finalists in the annual, STEM for Britain poster competition, held recently at the Houses of Parliament.

Hundreds of applicants enter the competition each year in the categories of biological and biomedical sciences, engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Reaching the final of this competition is a significant accomplishment for both the students and the university.

Dr Michael Crichton

The chosen finalists present their research posters to a panel of professional and academic experts, providing them with an opportunity to showcase their work and network with senior scientists and policymakers.

Organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, prizes are awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicate high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience.

Dr Michael Crichton from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, leads the Soft Tissue and Biomedical Devices lab. He provided academic support to two of the Heriot-Watt entrants and said: “Reaching the final of this competition is a significant accomplishment for both the students and the university. Being selected as a finalist indicates that the student's research is at the forefront of their fields and has been recognised by experts. It is also a great opportunity for students to showcase their work and gain exposure to the benefit of their future academic and professional endeavours.”

The five Heriot-Watt finalists are Abdullah Abdulaziz, Connor Bain,  Ana Ribeiro, Carolina Tacchella, who were all in the engineering category and Tiago Gomes who was Heriot-Watt’s sole representative in the physics section.

Such was the calibre of competition that among the other finalists were representatives from Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Imperial College London.

Commenting on the experience, Carolina Tacchella, a third-year PhD student at the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “To have so many Heriot-Watt students reach the final of this competition and rub shoulders with some amazing young researchers from around the UK, really was a fantastic experience.

“It was inspiring and a great day for science.”

STEM for Britain has been held in Parliament since 1997.

It is supported by some of the country’s leading scientific, engineering and mathematics institutions including The Royal Society of Biology, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Maria Ana Cataluna, leader of the Ultrafast Photonics Group, Professor Stephen McLaughlin and Dr Yoann Altmann at Heriot-Watt University also provided academic support to the entrants. 


Craig McManamon

Job title
Communications officer