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New e-learning service launched

Colour-WheelMaster3FINALThe College's new e-learning service KEATS is now live for use by new and returning students. 

KEATS contains online course modules and reading materials for use during lectures and seminars in the 2012-13 academic year.

 We recommend that you regularly check KEATS for news and information related to your study at King’s.

You can access KEATS at| and log in with your King’s username and password.


Professor John Ellis Awarded A CBE

John Ellis

We are proud to announce that John Ellis has been awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to science and technology.

The Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has made the following statement: Professor John Ellis, formerly of CERN and a member of STFC’s Science Board, who is now Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College London, has received a CBE for services to science and technology. Professor Ellis is considered one of the UK’s most influential and eminent particle physicists of the modern era. He has been hugely influential in setting CERN’s strategic direction over recent decades and, as an advocate and supporter of new-generation accelerators, including the Large Hadron Collider, he has provided an important bridge between the experimental and theoretical domains. John’s activities at CERN have been wide-ranging and he is widely admired for his determined efforts to involve non-European nations in CERN’s scientific activities, helping to underpin the truly international character of CERN.

Professor Ellis said ’This is an honour for UK particle physics and recognition of the country's ongoing effort, at CERN and elsewhere, to understand the fundamental physics of the Universe’


Inaugural Lecture Series

The School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences will be holding a series of events to celebrate the confirmation of new Professors to the School. Each event will feature a number of new professors from across our departments who will all speak briefly about their research interests. We hope that these talks will give the audience a flavour of the diverse research that goes on within the School. Each event will conclude with a drinks reception.

The first event will be held on Tuesday 8th May 2012 from 3pm onwards in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre (K6.29) at the Strand Campus. The details of those who will be speaking are below:
  Professor Alessandro de Vita, Department of Physics
  Professor Simon Scott, Department of Mathematics
  Professor Peter McBurney, Department of Informatics
  Professor Teemu Pennanen, Department of Mathematics

The event is open to both current staff and students across the College along with those from other institutions. If you would like to attend the event please email Tamara Shaw to confirm your attendance, along with any special requirements that you might have.

We anticipate holding further celebratory events early next academic year. We will publish details of these events as soon as dates and speakers are finalised.

From Maxwell to Higgs: the history of Physics

Peter Higgs King’s alumnus Peter Higgs, who first proposed the ‘Higgs Boson’ particle, joined forces last week with John Ellis, King’s Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics, in a public lecture to celebrate the history of modern physics.

Professor Ellis addressed more than 350 staff, alumni, prospective students and school pupils on the achievements of James Clerk Maxwell and Peter Higgs.

Peter Higgs, who studied physics at King’s from 1947 to 1954, was guest of honour and introduced Professor Ellis’ lecture. Higgs’ theory is currently being tested by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, where scientists recently announced they were a step closer to finding the theoretical particle.

James Clerk Maxwell was Professor of Natural Philosophy at King’s 150 years ago from 1860 to 1865. During his time here he demonstrated that magnetism, electricity and light were different manifestations of the same fundamental laws, taking a major step towards a theory unifying the forces of nature. He also made a major contribution to the first demonstration of colour photography and the understanding of colour vision.

Following a welcome by Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s, Professor Ellis took the audience on a journey through the history of physics and speculated on what the future for the discipline may hold.

His talk was followed by a question and answer session chaired by Ian Sample, Science Correspondent for The Guardian and author of Massive: The hunt for the God Particle.

King's College London leads on NETADIS project

EU7Researchers from the Disordered Systems group in the Department of Mathematics at King’s College London are leading a new multi-million European training network on statistical physics approaches to networks.

Networks are ubiquitous in all aspects of human existence. They manifest themselves in everyday life, e.g. in the form of social and economic networks, and underpin the most advanced information and communication technologies as well as systems biology and neuroscience. As such they provide a framework for addressing a wide spectrum of complex problems. Statistical physics offers a powerful set of concepts and methods to tackle today's key challenges in network science.

The European network "Statistical Physics Approaches to Networks Across Disciplines" (NETADIS) aims to train a cadre of future research leaders in advanced methods of analysis, inference, control and optimization of network structure and dynamics, to maximize the impact of statistical physics approaches across a broad range of application areas. It is funded by the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme, FP7.

King's College London is the coordinator of the project, which includes another 8 European universities and research institutes as well as 4 private sector partners. The network will support the training of 12 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs, who will be given the opportunity to register for PhD degrees) across the participating organisations, with two positions at King's College London soon to be advertised.  The project has a total budget of 3.4 million Euro and will run for four years from March 2012. 

For further information, please contact Professor Peter Sollich.

Particle search for physicists at CERN

cosmo-128-Cropped-100x100Three leading academics from the Department of Physics have joined MoEDAL, the newest experiment of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project at the European Centre for Particle Physics (CERN).

Through the MoEDAL experiment, Professor Nick Mavromatos, Professor John Ellis and Dr Malcolm Fairbairn will search for the ‘magnetic monopole’. The hypothetical particle was proposed by the unified theory of electricity and magnetism developed by Professor James Clerk Maxwell when he was at King’s (1860 – 1865).

The search for the particle is underpinned by Maxwell’s theory which suggests that if electric charge exists then so should magnetic charge - the so-called ‘magnetic monopole'.

Professor Mavromatos commented: ‘It is only right that King’s should play a leading role in the search for magnetic charge that is motivated by Maxwell’s work on electricity and magnetism.’

John Ellis, who is James Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics, added: ‘As Maxwell’s successor at King’s I am really excited to be part of our MoEDAL team.’

Although smaller than other experiments taking place at CERN, a discovery at MoEDAL would revolutionise our understanding of the universe and give new insights into the nature of dark matter and other possibilities such as extra dimensions.

Informatics student wins Samsung bada Challenge

Bada Challenge WinnerRazvan Moisa, a final-year student in the Department of Informatics, won £1,000 in the national Samsung bada Student Development Challenge finals on Monday 23 January for his innovative mobile app ‘Doodle Fight’.

Razvan, who is studying Computer Science with Management, was shortlisted for his mobile app ‘Doodle Fight’, in which users can sketch a soldier and then do battle with their friends. Once a fighter has been drawn, it can fight against random doodles drawn by other app users.

Razvan commented: ‘I believe the whole experience has taught me a lot more about app development and how it differs from any other type of development. There are a lot of constraints both in hardware and API (application programming interface), but that is what makes it more challenging. I hope to be able to develop more apps in the future for the bada and for other platforms as well.’

Professor John Ellis named as a 'Briton of the Year'

John EllisProfessor John Ellis has been named as a Briton of the year by the Daily Telegraph.

The paper identified just 25 Britons from across the country who had 'left an indelible mark in our minds' during 2011.

Professor Ellis is Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's and was the first theorist to propose a method for searching for the elusive Higgs boson particle.

He pioneered the Large Hadron Collider project at Cern, where he has worked since 1978, and from where it was announced last month they had found hints of the Higgs and of faster-than-light particles.

With 2011 proving to be quite a year for physics, the newspaper said about Professor Ellis: ‘Now is the time to mark the contribution he has made in his 33 years at the particle-physics coalface.’

Search for the Higgs Boson

Dr Malcolm Fairbairn, from the Department of Physics, spoke to The Daily Telegraph about the search for the elusive Higgs Boson. Dr Fairbairn said that finding the Higgs Boson would explain why other particles have mass, but that any discovery would not have any immediate implications for a few thousand years. The video was filmed by AP and was also featured by ITV News and MSN UK.

Higgs boson 'to be found' at CERN

Professor John Ellis, Clark Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics, spoke to BBC Newsnight about the search for the Higgs boson at CERN.  Professor Ellis said he expects the first glimpse to be revealed next week in a seminar being given at CERN on Tuesday 13 December 2011.

The Physics Department is arranging for interested students and staff to watch this historic seminar via a webcast.  Further details can found on the Department of Physics news pages.

Members of the Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology (TPPC) Group in the King's Physics department do active research on the Higgs boson: Professor John Ellis makes theoretical studies of its possible properties, Dr Bobby Acharya is a member of the ATLAS Collaboration that is searching for the Higgs boson, and Dr Jean Alexandre and Professor Nick Mavromatos consider alternatives to the Higgs theory.

Important visit to the Centre for Telecommunications Research

On Monday 14 November, the Centre for Telecommunications Research (CTR), Department of Informatics, at King’s was visited by Dr Atsushi Murase, Managing Director of the Research Laboratories of NTT Docomo; the largest mobile operator in Japan, and his colleague Dr Hidetoshi Kayama.


The aim of the visit was to exchange views with Professor Hamid Aghvami, Director of the CTR, on the vision of, and strategy for, future mobile telecommunications. Both Dr Murase and Professor Aghvami presented their own visions and discussed technical challenges needed to realise them.


The common technical challenges in both visions will enable a continued exchange of information and present exciting opportunities for future collaboration between the CTR and the Research Laboratories of NTT Docomo.

Informatics students win 'app' design competition and meet Prime Minister

A group of second year Informatics students paid a visit to Downing Street last week, where they met Prime Minister David Cameron and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. The students from King’s were one of eight groups to have won a competition for mobile phone applications with their app ‘PoliticsDirect’ – designed to give voters more opportunity to contact their politicians and hold them to account.

The competition was organized by Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK) – a programme aiming to bring together students with technology investors and entrepreneurs. This year they held an ‘appathon’ competition instructing UK university students to programme a mobile application based on open government datasets.

David Cameron and students

Congratulating all the winners, Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘This competition rewards the creative use of government data and I congratulate the winners. This type of innovation can produce new applications and services that generate significant social and economic benefits across our society.’ Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude added: ‘These applications prove the potential power of public data to drive entrepreneurial growth, choice and competition in public services.’

The King’s app, called ‘PoliticsDirect’, was designed by students George Ing, Anna Huckerby and Christian Clark. George explained: ‘Our app locates the mobile user’s geographical location to find their local MP, MEPs, Councillors, Council and relevant information about them such as voting record and expenses. We created this app because we felt that politicians have lost touch with the people they represent. We wanted to create an easy access opportunity for the electorate to hold their politicians to account.

‘We created the app from scratch ourselves, with me as the programmer; Anna Huckerby as the designer and Christian Clark managing the written content and presentation.

‘It was not only great fun but an amazing learning experience and we got the opportunity to connect with senior people at several major technological companies. I think I can speak for all of us in saying we are extremely pleased and proud of what we have managed to achieve in a few weeks. We’re even discussing a possible opportunity to market our product.

‘Downing Street was amazing; walking through the iconic door was a phenomenal experience, but the best moment was meeting David Cameron to tell him about our app. It was very exciting.’

Dr Steffen Zschaler, from the Department of Informatics commented: ‘I am absolutely delighted to see our students doing so well. It is great to see them engage in these competitions and be recognised for their efforts and achievements.

‘PoliticsDirect has the potential of changing the way we perceive politics and increasing our influence on the policy decisions that affect our daily lives. As such it is a great and creative way to make use of the new opportunities offered by smart phones and the large data sets recently made publicly available by the British Government. The team has produced something highly innovative and practical.’

Professor Michael Luck, Head of Department of Informatics, added: ‘Through the efforts of the students in these competitions and the efforts of the Department in promoting and organising supporting programmes, we aim to make the Department of Informatics a leader in innovation and employability. We hope this success, as recognised by the Prime Minister, is just the start.’

Watch the video ‘Students recognised for winning mobile phone apps’ on the BBC News website.

The Festival of Materials and Making

The Institute of Making is holding a Festival of Materials & Making – a celebration of the multi-disciplinary work being done at King’s around materials – from Monday 7 November till Friday 11 November 2011.

Events will be held across Kings campuses and will showcase the extensive work being done by experts across a number of King’s departments, ranging from War Studies and Physics to Classics and Life Sciences.

The week’s activities which includes; tours, demonstrations and exhibitions, will cover everything from the elements which make up the human body to how animals use materials

The Institute of Materials website has the full list of events.


King's at the London Science Festival

King’s is hosting a range of events this month as part of the first ever London Science Festival. From 21-25 October, the College will host debates, demonstrations and presentations on a diverse range of topics, ranging from how to treat a heart attack to the world of nanomaterials. Academics from within the Institute of Making will be among those presenting.

On Monday 24 October, Dr Zoe Laughlin, artist, materials scientist and Creative Director of the Institution of Making will be giving a talk entitled ‘All Things Bright and Small’ which will explore the realm of the microscopic and nanoscale in a performance guiding the audience through the world of materials down to ever smaller dimensions.


Professor elected as Fellow to American Society of Mechanical Engineers

 Professor Jian S Dai, from the Centre for Robotics Research, has been elected as a Fellow to ASME and was bestowed in the 35th American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Mechanisms and Robotics Conference. ASME promotes the art, science and practice of multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences around the globe.

Founded in 1880 by a small group of leading industrialists, ASME has grown through the decades to include more than 120,000 members in over 150 countries worldwide. ASME’s diverse membership base ranges from College students and early-career engineers to project managers, corporate executives, researchers and academic leaders. ASME aims to serve this wide-ranging technical community through quality programs in continuing education, training and professional development.

Professor Dai was elected to the ASME Mechanisms Committee in 2005 and he has been the Chairman for the UK and Ireland ASME section since 2010. The Fellow Grade is the highest elected grade of membership within ASME, the attainment of which recognizes exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession. The ASME Board of Governors confers the Fellow grade of membership on worthy candidates to recognise their outstanding engineering achievements.

Professor Dai has been at the College since 1999 and was elected to Fellow of Institution of Mechanical Engineers of UK in 2006. His research interests include robotics, kinematics and mechanisms; advanced machinery, motion control, assembly and industrial automation.

Professor Cvetkovic gives lectures at Harvard, MIT, and the University of Illinois

 Harvard University’s Electrical Engineering seminar series for this academic year was opened with an invited lecture from Professor Zoran Cvetkovic of the Department of Informatics. Professor Cvetkovic presented results of his work on high dimensional representations for robust speech recognition, which is part of an EPSRC funded project in collaboration with Professor Peter Sollich of the Department of Mathematics, King’s College London, and Professor Bin Yu of the Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Cvetkovic, who is a member of the Centre for Telecommunications Research Group, also gave invited lectures on this topic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

A touch of gold makes glass more see through 

Physicists at King’s have discovered a means of making glass more transparent - by coating it in a thin layer of gold.

Researchers have found that by covering glass with a film of gold more light can be transmitted through more angles, reducing the amount that is reflected back. This could change the way we watch flat-screen TVs or view light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in watches and alarm clocks, which currently must be seen head-on for a clear perspective.

In these examples the light is generated from within a layer of active material inside glass. This light is then trapped within the emitting layer, which means it cannot be viewed at other angles other than almost face on.

Instead we see a reflection rather than seeing through the glass to the image behind it. This is due to light being completely reflected back at larger angles from the glass rather than passing through it.

The research, published in Applied Physics Letters, shows that by applying a very thin layer of gold over the glass and controlling the thickness of the thinnest part of the layer, the interaction of the light and electrons can be engineered on the nanoscale to increase the transmission of light through the glass. This results in light passing through the glass even when not viewed straight on, and at a greater intensity.

 Ryan McCarron, a PhD student from the Department of Physics who is leading the project, said: ‘This research could greatly increase output in LEDs, allowing new heights of efficiency to be reached. It may also allow nanoscale light sources for many other applications, such as bio and chemical sensing and integrated photonics.’

CONPHIRMER: tackling the Influx of Counterfeit Medicines into the EU

Researchers in King’s College London’s Department of Informatics are leading a consortium of seven organisations from across Europe as part of a €2.7million project. Entitled CONPHIRMER, the project aims to develop a means of detecting counterfeit medicines that will permit border officials to examine a medicine without having to remove it from its packaging. 

The King’s team is led by Professor Kaspar Althoefer of the Department of Informatics and includes Prof. John A S Smith and Dr Jamie Barras. Dr Althoefer, who is also the project coordinator, explained, “The basis of the approach used in CONPHIRMER is quadrupole resonance (QR) a spectroscopic technique that uses harmless radio-waves and can detect signals through multiple layers of, for example, cardboard, glass, plastic and/or wood eliminating the need to remove drugs from their packaging prior to the examination. As the method is non-destructive, and no seals are broken, once a consignment is given the all-clear, it can be allowed to continue on its way.”

Chemistry in Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Chemistry has been taught at King's since the founding of the College in 1831, when John Frederic Daniell was appointed the first Professor of Chemistry. Daniell invented the first electrochemical cell, laying down the foundations of the study of electrochemistry and hence influencing the study of Physical Chemistry.

Chemistry is already embedded in a range of multidisciplinary activities throughout the College, for example imaging and materials science, molecular and cellular biophysics, pharmaceutical and forensic science. 

To provide a coherent identity for chemistry at King’s, the College is forming a new Department of Chemistry in the School of Natural & Mathematical Sciences.  King’s is recruiting a Head of Department and investing initially in four Lecturers/Senior Lecturers over the next few years. The many chemists already embedded within different research Divisions across King’s will be affiliated to the department to promote discipline identity and contribute to departmental activities.

Professor Roger Morris, Head of Biomedical Sciences at King’s, said:

‘This is a very exciting time for both the College and the wider Chemistry community. 

‘There has never been any doubt about the importance of Chemistry as a basic science at King’s, and it has grown in importance with now over 30 chemists embedded in many departments throughout the College.

‘This has allowed up to build up the infrastructure and grant support for chemistry as a fundamental element in biomedical and material science, including for instance analytical science in which our excellence will be very evident next summer as we, in partnership with GSK, provide the drug testing for London’s Olympics and Paralympics. 

‘Fortunately, the importance of a chemical education is now realised in UK schools and very good students are now flooding into chemistry undergraduate courses.  We are therefore grasping this opportunity to launch a new chemistry degree, with biomedicine in which we excel, and in which future career prospects for graduates are particularly promising.’

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Interim Chief Executive, Dr Robert Parker, said: ‘We warmly welcome the commitment to science, and chemistry in particular, that the opening of King’s chemistry department heralds. Chemistry courses are now flourishing all around the country, as young people recognise that a chemistry degree teaches skills for a whole range of career possibilities. So it is fantastic to witness the UK’s chemistry teaching and research potential receive yet another boost at a university with such a rich tradition in science.’

New undergraduate programmes launched for 2012

The School of Natural & Mathematical Sciences is launching two new  undergraduate programmes for 2012 entry.  The MSci in Chemistry with Biomedicine has been developed in conjunction with the establishment of the new Department of Chemistry in the School.  It is the aim of the new MSci programme to provide a comprehensive education in the theoretical and practical aspects of chemistry, but also to equip students for a professional career in the ever changing environment of 21st century chemistry. 

The BEng in Biomedical Engineering is designed to train the next generation of biomedical engineers working in healthcare research and development. Graduates can specialise in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics or go on to further study in Medicine.  King's is recognised as one of the International leaders in Medical Engineering and Physics education, and the programme will be taught in one of the UK's centres of excellence for medical imaging.

Further information on the programmes, entry requirements and how to apply are available from the online prospectus.

Awards for excellence in teaching

The winners of the annual King’s Award for Excellence in Teaching were announced in May.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has made funds available to institutions in the form of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund to enhance the quality of teaching. At King's, as part of the College's Learning and Teaching Strategy, a portion of this funding is used for our Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

These awards, now in their ninth year, provide students with an opportunity to recognise teaching staff from each of the College’s nine Schools of study. Students were invited to nominate a member of staff or a group of staff for these awards with one award of £1,000 being made annually to one member of academic staff or to a group of academic staff from each of the College's nine Schools.

 This year 287 staff members were nominated for the Award, with 1,214 staff and students taking part in the nominations process

The winners for the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences are:

  • Professor Lev Kantorovich, Department of Physics
  • Dr Steffen Zschaler, Department of Informatics


King's scientists developing remote bomb detection sensors

Scientists from the Department of Physics are embarking on an EU-funded project to develop a network of state of the art sensors capable of detecting hidden explosives. The King’s team, led by Professor Anatoly Zayats and involving Professor David Richards and Dr Gregory Wurtz from the Department of Physics will be working with colleagues across Europe, with €4 million split between 12 teams for a four year project. The partnership, led by Italian National Agency for New Technologies, involves scientists from Queen's University of Belfast and a number of other European centres and companies, including the Scientific Police Institute at the University of Lausanne and the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. The consortium represents the entire chain from basic research to field deployment, in order to guarantee that the networks can be used by security services as soon as they are built.

The sensors will work by detecting the chemical traces of explosive vapours in the air in order to provide early warning to security services and protect vulnerable urban populations from the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), often used by terrorist organizations. Professor Zayats and his team will be focusing on a technique called Raman scattering, which involves using lasers to identify the chemical fingerprints of explosives in the air. This technique detects tiny changes in the colour of light when it interacts with molecules.

Describing the technique, Zayats explains that ‘If you shine a laser on to a molecule, you can measure the Raman response,’ said Zayats. ‘At the moment we can do this right down to a single molecule, but the signal strength is too weak for applications outside the research lab.’ The team will employ metal nanostructures in order to enhance the signal, so eventually a sensor can be developed to warn when the concentration of key chemicals in the air reaches a certain threshold.

Professor Zayats hopes that once the network is fully developed, security forces will be able to identify a bomb inside a building or vehicle by sensors monitoring the chemical composition of molecules in the air outside. The sensors, specifically designed to be sensitive and easily hidden, could also be installed in a network to protect high profile public buildings, so as to provide an early warning for police if any traces of explosives are detected. ‘Once the project is finished it will require minimum effort to make it available to the police and security agencies,’ said Professor Zayats.


The contribution from the Department of Physics, together with a variety of other detection devices being developed across Europe, will enable a broad spectrum of chemicals to be picked up and also prevent false alarms.

‘This project is a perfect example of how the academic and commercial partnership can efficiently use new technologies to make the world a safer place for everyone,' said Professor Zayats. 'We are very excited that our research into nanostructures can contribute to this.’

Informatics students scoop entrepreneurial award

The 2010-11 King's College London Graduate Business Competition saw Informatics postgraduate students Abbas Lawal and Tosin Akingbade win the Big Ideas Prize. Pitching their business plans against other teams in the Lion's Den final, they scooped £1000 after impressing peers and business experts with their hypothetical business plan for eLearning - an electronic teaching solution for teaching institutions in Nigeria.

Talking about her early thoughts for eLearning, Tosin explained that "it was borne out of the glaring need for some form of e-learning system in Nigeria." From here, Tosin and Abbas fleshed out their idea into a business plan, benefiting from the Competition's comprehensive programme of business training for entrepreneurs. This included seminars and networking opportunities with business experts and mentor sessions with King's alumni.

Now equipped with the business knowledge to take their venture further, Tosin and Abbas' first product will be iAttain, an application that will provide senior secondary schools in Nigeria with audio, visual and text-based e-learning solutions. Developing this product will allow the pair to exploit their computing knowledge, Tosin explaining that "our immediate focus is to get the solution design right."

More information about the competition can be found on the College News pages.

Abbas Lawal is an MSc student in Computing and Security and Tosin Akingbade is an MSc student in Computing and Internet Systems


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