Edinburgh University PhD student Bryony Davidson has won a prestigious new training award from The Royal Academy of Engineering. She will receive a £5,000 grant for personal development projects as part of her PhD work developing non-invasive optical scanning to study live mouse egg cells.

The Academy’s award, one of five given this year for the first time, will enable Bryony to broaden her experience by spending time as a visiting researcher at the University of Michigan and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. It will also pay for her to take an intensive French course and to present her work at a conference in France in 2007 – the top gathering of European experts in imaging biological molecules.

“Bryony is an exceptionally gifted young woman and a credit to the School of Engineering and Electronics at Edinburgh,” says Professor William Easson, Head of the Institute for Materials and Processes. “The spells of work she plans as a visiting researcher in Cambridge and the US will give her excellent experience of research at two world-class institutions.”

“The purpose of my research is to develop the use of Raman spectroscopy as a non-invasive technique to analyse the quality of oocytes (immature eggs),” says Bryony. “This work is of value at a time when more people are pursuing assisted reproductive techniques. The nature of this topic means my work straddles the boundary between the physical and life sciences, an environment in which collaboration is especially important. Therefore, I am delighted that the Academy has offered me this fantastic opportunity – it will enable me to visit leading research groups in the fields of epigenetics and spectroscopy, and to pursue activities that I hope will broaden my experience as a researcher.”

"The winners of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Student Development Fellowships are a highly innovative group of young researchers studying important topics such as medicine, energy, security and sport,” says Professor Peter Deasley FREng, Lead Assessor for the awards. “The Fellowships will enable them to initiate technical collaborations with overseas universities and industry and broarden their perspectives by learning languages and developing their individual skills, both technical and cultural."

Notes for editors

  1. The Research Student Development Fellowships have been set up to add value to the research-oriented education of PhD and EngD students, in fields related to electrotechnology, who submit the best personal development plans at the start of their second year of study. After completing their doctoral studies they are eligible to apply for a further £5,000 prize provided they go on to pursue a career in either academic or industrial engineering research in the UK.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering