2018 BSA Media Fellows Announced

20 May 2018

UCL Engineering is pleased to announce our three British Science Association Media Fellows for 2018

The BSA Media Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for practising scientists, clinicians and engineers to spend two to six weeks working at the heart of a media outlet such as the Guardian, BBC Breakfast or Buzzfeed.

Our three media fellows for 2018 are Professor Clare Elwell and Dr Gemma Bale from the Dept. of Medical Physics and Professor Licia Capra from UCL Computer Science.


Prof. Clare Elwell

My research focus is on using innovative physics and engineering to develop novel optical systems for monitoring and imaging the human body. I lead a number of multidisciplinary teams applying near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) methods in the clinical and life sciences. Projects include clinical monitoring of acute brain injury in adults, neonates and children, characterisation of infant brain development to provide early markers of autism, and development of tools to investigate migraine, malaria, depression and exercise. Instrumentation development includes the use of novel source and detector technology to produce a wearable multiwavelength NIRS topography system to enable spatially resolved measures of oxygenation, haemodynamics and metabolism. I also have an interest in the use of mathematical models of cerebral physiology to aid interpretation of NIRS and other multimodal datasets.

In 2012 I led a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project to establish the feasibility of fNIRS to study brain development in infants in rural Gambia, resulting in the first functional brain imaging of infants in Africa (, @globalfnirs). I am currently leading the BRain Imaging for Global HealTh (BRIGHT, @bright_project) project to develop brain function for age curves over the first two years of life in Gambian and UK infants. I am also a past President of the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue and the incoming President of the Society for Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy.

One of my projects, The BRIGHT Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and investigates the impact of malnutrition on brain development in infants in rural Gambia resulting in the first functional brain imaging of infants in Africa. This research is aimed at informing nutritional and other interventions targeted at protecting the ‘at risk’ brain and enabling children to reach their full developmental potential.

I am also the recipient of the 2016 WISE Research Award, recognising the research that I have carried out using novel optical imaging techniques to understand the human brain in health and disease.


Dr Gemma Bale
I am a Research Associate in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory at University College London. My work focuses developing new optical neuromonitoring devices for the measurement of cerebral oxygenation and metabolism to help diagnose and treat brain injury in newborn babies. I received the Dietrich Lubbers award from the International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue in 2016, and in 2015 I was awarded the UCL Provost’s Engineering Engager of the Year award for my work in communicating science to the public. Recently, I has launched a new public engagement platform called MetaboLight ( which recently won the UCL Provost’s Engineering Engager of the Year in the Team category




Prof. Licia Capra

I joined UCL in 2000 as a PhD student in the Software Systems Engineering group, and never left! I am now a Professor of Pervasive Computing. Initially, I was researching languages and tools to support the development of mobile systems. Over the years, my interests have shifted from the needs of software developers to the needs of end-users, and I am now mostly concerned with enabling interactions that are “fit for purpose”. I do so taking a data science approach: I analyse how people interact with systems looking at the data traces they leave behind; I then use computational techniques to extract knowledge about the functioning of such systems and the behaviours of users, and finally use this knowledge to inform future developments.”

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