Leeds researcher takes 'SET for Britain' gold

Leeds postdoctoral researcher Dr Tim Stevenson (Institute for Materials Research) won a gold medal after presenting his research to politicians and a panel of engineers in the House of Commons.

Dr Stevenson presented his engineering research as part of the 'SET for Britain' poster competition. His research, which describes the development of a new material with unusual magnetic and electric properties, was judged against 59 other shortlisted researchers' work and came out on top. He was rewarded with a cash prize of £3,000.

Dr Stevenson said: "Having your work recognised is always a gratifying and encouraging achievement. To be presented with such a prestigious prize is therefore all the more exciting, especially among so many multi-disciplined engineers who share your passion for science and technology. It was a fantastic experience, and the medal serves as an incredible reminder of that."

Professor Chris Taylor FREng OBE, Associate Vice President of Research from the University of Manchester, who chaired the engineering judging panel, said: "Tim Stevenson presented his work developing and characterising a novel 'magnetoelectric' material which provides a low-cost solution to high-temperature actuation and sensing, and the fascinating ability to switch magnetic state electrically.

"The panel was impressed with the quality of the research, which uses advanced neutron scattering techniques to probe the structure of the material, and the potential for practical use in applications as diverse as fuel injection in jet engines and data storage."

SET for Britain is a competition in the House of Commons which involves researchers displaying posters of their work to panels of expert judges and more than 100 MPs. The day is split into three separate sessions - engineering, biological and biomedical science, and physical science (physics and chemistry) - and finishes with an evening reception and prize-giving ceremony.

The University was represented by seven postgraduate engineering students, in addition to Dr Stevenson: Ali Alazmani, Jim Bennett, Carl Gilkeson, Jonathan Mak, Rachel Taylor, Katarzyna Tych and Sam Fincham. Their presentations covered a wide range of topics including the development of a new type of concrete, how infection control influences the design of hospital wards, probing the link between proteins' structure and function, and devising the best way to test a novel heart pump.

Professor Brian Cox, TV star physicist, who visited the event, said: "It's been amazing to see the range of work on display, you can't help but feel assured that science and engineering are going to provide answers to the UK's most pressing concerns, from climate change to cyber security.

"Most importantly of all, these young researchers will continue to explore nature. Driven by their curiosity and skill, who knows what they will discover?

"Politicians take note; the researchers here today are this country's future. It is your job to ensure that Britain is the best place in the world for them to continue their research."

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee ran the event in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, E.ON, plantimpact, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, International Agri-Technology Centre Ltd, AgChem Access, Eli Lilly and Oxford Instruments. 

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