2019 Archive

2nd September 2019  – “Fungi are more than just soup: An appreciation of a poorly understood kingdom”- Dr Stuart Skeates

Stuart has been an enthusiastic amateur mycologist for most of his adult life after a good friend and mentor from the Natural History Museum introduced him to this little known kingdom. His talk will be a general introduction to the fungal kingdom looking not just at their diversity but also their evolutionary history, their roles in the environment and their interactions with humans, both helpful and problematic. Fungi can be found in almost every aspect of the world around us even being able to survive in space.

In his professional life he worked as a GP and medical educationalist, a career he realised was his calling following a brief diversion into mathematics. He has been leader of the Hampshire Fungus Recording group for the past fifteen years which has been documenting the 3000 species of fungi found in Hampshire. The group has found many new species to Britain and some newly described species.

5th August  2019 “Designing cycleways” Helen Littler

Helen’s talk will discuss the science behind designing for cyclists – balancing the needs of these muscle powered machines against other road users. She will then show some cycling projects to demonstrate how these principles are applied to real life civil engineering.

2019 is the Centenary of the Women in Engineering Society, Helen will be briefly discussing the history of the society and its role today.

Hampshire born Helen has been cycling Southern Hampshire since she learnt to ride at age six. It was also around this point she decided to be a civil engineer. She is now a Chartered Civil Engineer at WSP, fulling her dream of designing infrastructure to get more people travelling actively.

3rd June 2019 “ Nanostructured Materials” Dr Alex Robertson

The development of new materials is often the key enabling step that allows us to realise new technologies. A famous example of this is how the integrated circuit, the basis for all our phones and computers, was only possible thanks to the invention and perfection of an exacting technique for growing high quality silicon crystals. Now, many of the greatest scientific challenges are bottlenecked by the development of new materials. The field of nanomaterials is now revolutionising many fields, such as giving us better catalysts in industry, and is poised to deliver leaps in electronics, batteries, healthcare, and structural materials.

I will discuss what makes a nanomaterial, and introduce some of the main candidates of interest. This includes graphene, whose emergence has caused a lot of interest over the past fifteen years. I will discuss how their structure gives them their unique and exciting properties, and explore if and how they may impact our daily lives in the future. Finally, I will include some discussion of what my own research is in this field, and how it links in to the big picture of nanomaterials research.

Dr Alex Robertson is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. His research as a doctoral student and a post-doc was on the synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, with a particular focus on graphene. With the support of the Royal Society, he has now moved toward developing new techniques to understand how battery materials behave, and degrade, while they are charged and discharged.

Dr Alex Robertson is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. His research as a doctoral student and a post-doc was on the synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, with a particular focus on graphene. With the support of the Royal Society, he has now moved toward developing new techniques to understand how battery materials behave, and degrade, while they are charged and discharged.

20th May 2019 “Neutron stars: Laboratories for fundamental physics” – Dr Andreas Schmitt

Neutron stars are ultra-dense. Matter in their interior is very different from ordinary matter on earth or even from ordinary stellar matter. In the quest to understand properties of neutron stars we are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of nuclear and particle physics. In this talk, I will give a pedagogical introduction to dense matter inside neutron stars and discuss how researchers attempt to “look inside” the star, i.e., how astrophysical observations can be connected with microscopic and fundamental properties of matter.

2004          PhD at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
2005-2007 Postdoctoral positions at MIT in Cambridge, USA, and Washington University in St Louis, USA
2007-2015 Postdoc and Assistant Professor at Technical University Vienna, Austria
2015 –       Ernest Rutherford Fellow and Associate Professor (since 2019) at University of Southampton and STAG research centre

April 1st 2019 “The very, very early universe”. Prof David Wands

The present-day expansion of our universe points towards a singular origin, 14 billion years ago, in a Hot Big Bang. This conclusion seems inescapable within the context of Einstein’s classical theory of general relativity and the matter and radiation we observe around us. But the detailed structure of our Universe, revealed in the largest astronomical surveys currently underway, implies a pattern of primordial density fluctuations that may require a quantum origin soon after or, perhaps, even before the Big Bang. I will discuss how cosmologists use current observations to infer anything about the very early universe, and what we think we know about fundamental physics and the Big Bang.

I am Professor of Cosmology at the University of Portsmouth and Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. I studied at the University of Cambridge and did my PhD at Sussex, before joining the University of Portsmouth in 1996. My research focuses on the physics of he very early universe, a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, and the origin of cosmic structure. I have published over 150 papers and given scientific talks on five continents.

March 4th “What is a quantum internet?” Daryus Chandra

As we shrink the size of transistors further and further, the inevitable quantum phenomenon on nano-scale level starts to prevail. In quantum regime, the general rules of thumb for developing classical computers that we currently have will no longer valid. However, the weird and often-strange quantum properties can be exploited to build quantum computers, which exhibit a superpower computing capability. While such quantum computers may impose the threat of jeopardizing most of our encryption systems, the quantum mechanical properties also offer the wonderful solution for establishing an absolute-secure and unbreachable quantum communication system, even with the advent of quantum computers. With the emerge of quantum technologies, such as quantum computers and quantum communications, one may ask a judicious question, “Can we build the so-called ‘Quantum Internet?'” In this talk, we will try to explore this problem by demystifying the concept of quantum computation and quantum communication accompanied by the recent research progress in this area. Finally, you may wonder if the answer to the question is in the superposition between ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Daryus Chandra received his bachelor of engineering (B.Eng.) and master of engineering (M.Eng.) degree in Electronics Engineering from a five-year integrated bachelor-master programme, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. After that, he spent one year serving as a Research and Teaching Assistant at the same institution. Since September 2015, he joined the Next Generation Wireless Research Group, University of Southampton for pursuing PhD degree. His research interests revolve around quantum information, quantum communication, and quantum error-correction codes. More specifically, the implementation of the quantum error-correction codes for maintaining the reliability of quantum computation and quantum communication system for the near-future quantum computers and quantum internet. Currently, he is also a course instructor managed by Lifelong Learning Department, University of Southampton, delivering an introduction course of quantum computation and communication to public audiences.

Mon Feb 4th  2019 “The Origin of the First Supermassive Black Holes in the Universe” Dr Dan Whalen

Most massive galaxies in the universe today harbor supermassive black holes (SMBHs), with masses from a few million to tens of billions of solar masses.  But very bright quasars powered by billion solar mass BHs have now been discovered at redshift z ~ 7, or just 775 million years after the Big Bang.  They pose serious challenges to current theories of cosmological structure formation because it is not known how BHs this massive appeared by such early epochs.  I will discuss the possible origins of the first quasars and present new supercomputer simulations of how they could form in the first billion years of the universe.

Dan’s biography: PhD University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign 2006 Research Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) 2006 – 2009 McWilliams Fellow in Cosmology, Carnegie Mellon University 2009 – 2012 Research Scientist, LANL 2012 – 2014 Deputy Group Leader, Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, Univ of Heidelberg 2014 – 2016 Senior Lecturer, Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth 2016 On


Mon 7th Jan 2019. “Wireless Communications: Towards a Connected World of People and Things.” K. Satyanarayana

Wireless communication has evolved from pigeon-post to paging, voice calls, text messages, video calls – and now Internet everywhere. It has become the ubiquitous means of socializing, doing business and of entertainment. There are around 5 billion mobile phones in use through which we transmit around 60 terabytes of data every month. And yet, this is just the beginning – the future is even more exciting as we are moving from the internet-of-things to holographic video calls, which can conjure up the image of a person right in the room when we talk to them. However, one of the key issues of this technology, whether we have the capacity to accommodate all these users at a high quality-of-service. An obvious solution to circumvent this problem is to increase the bandwidth used. But we only have a limited bandwidth.

In this talk, I shall shed light on how to address this problem.

Satyanarayana (www.satyanarayana.xyz) received his B. Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India, in 2014. During Jul’14-Aug’15, he worked as a research assistant at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Currently, Satya is a research scholar in Wireless Communications at the University of Southampton in liaison with InterDigital Europe, London, UK. His research interests include millimeter wave communications, hybrid beamforming, with an emphasis on transceiver algorithms for wireless communication systems and multi-functional MIMO. He has over a dozen publications and a patent.