Dr Nasrin Al Nasiri, a postdoctoral research associate in the Centre for Advanced Structural Ceramics at Imperial College London, has won the gold medal and a £3,000 prize in the engineering section at this year's SET for Britain research poster competition.

SET for Britain is an annual competition for young researchers run by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in collaboration with the Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry.

Dr Al Nasiri impressed MPs and the judges with her communication skills and her poster display on “Environmental barrier coating for silicon-based ceramic composites”. The poster showcased her success in developing a cost-effective and efficient material with which to coat the Silicon-based composite materials used in jet-engines turbines in order to protect them against environmental wear.

On winning the engineering section, Dr Al Nasisri said: "When they announced my name as the gold medal winner in engineering I was speechless, overwhelmed and very proud of what I have achieved. This invaluable recognition to my research and communication abilities will definitely boost my enthusiasm to progress in my career as a researcher in engineering and material science.

“I am very grateful to everyone who believed in my research capacity, independence and responsibility and I would also like to thank the organisers of the event for such fantastic opportunity for all researchers in Britain.”

Davide Zilli, a PhD student at the University of Southampton, but originally from Trieste, Italy, was awarded the silver medal and £2,000 prize for his work on developing a mobile phone app that can detect and amplify the call of the cicada, among other sounds and calls, to be used by amateur and professional entomologists.

About his experience of SET for Britain, Mr Zilli said: “I'm thrilled by this prize and the great event we had in Parliament. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to engage with the real decision makers, and show our work to those who can influence this country much more effectively than we can.

“It's certainly also a challenge to explain our research not to our colleagues who are in the same, narrow field, but to an audience much more interested in the wider picture. Our task was to show the impact our work can have on society, and it's something we don't get to do very often. I even met the former Chancellor of my University, which was a great honour for me.”

The bronze medal and a £1,000 prize went to Agnieszka Dzielendziak, a PhD student in the faculty of Engineering and the Environment at Southampton University, for her work on how materials used in ship-building are degraded by the demanding marine environment.

Miss Dzielendziak said: “I was honoured by receiving an award at SET for Britain 2015 and found attending the event extremely rewarding as it allowed me to present my research to a distinguished audience of multiple backgrounds, making a case for paving a way towards a more sustainable future.”

The overall winner of the competition, selected among the gold medal winners, was: Mr Robert Woodward from the Department of Physics of Imperial College London, who was awarded the Westminster Medal in memory of Dr Eric Wharton.


Volker Schultz, CEO of Essar Oil UK, sponsors of the gold medal, commented: “I’m delighted Essar Oil UK is again the gold sponsor of this year’s Engineering Section of SET for Britain.  These awards are important, because they support the excellent work being undertaken by so many young engineers and technologists and promote this to a much wider audience.  “Innovation is essential in the continuing progress and development of the UK’s research and development capability and I’m proud this competition helps encourage such impressive research projects.”

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya CBE FREng, Chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, sponsor of the silver medal, commented: “WMG is delighted to sponsor the SET for Britain engineering awards for 2015 because Britain needs an economy built on technical innovation, improved productivity and long-term Investment. It is crucial that we support innovative research which has the potential to change the way we live. The research being presented shows the great potential in the work of early career scientists in the UK.

“At WMG, we have focused on the practical applications of the highest quality scientific research for over 30 years, driving innovations in fields as diverse as battery technology and healthcare. In the future, the engineers presenting today can make a similar impact on our society. We are proud to support their efforts and the work of SET for Britain, Andrew Miller MP and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in bringing together scientists and parliamentarians to demonstrate how engineering research can improve lives, grow the economy and build a stronger society”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, the sponsor of the bronze medal, said: "This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers.”

"These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work."

Notes for Editors

  1. SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons - involving approximately 210 early stage or early career researchers - judged by professional and academic experts.  All presenters are entered into either the engineering, the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences (chemistry), the physical sciences (physics) session, or the mathematics session, depending on the researcher’s specialism.

    Each session will result in the reward of Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates.  Bronze winners will receive a £1,000 prize; Silver, £2,000; and Gold, £3,000.  There will also be an overall winner from the four sessions who will receive the Westminster Wharton Medal.

    SET for Britain was established by Dr Eric Wharton in 1997.  Following his untimely death in 2007, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, with support from The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Physiological Society and the Society of Chemical Industry, is working to further his legacy.

    SET for Britain 2015 was made possible thanks to the generous support of BP, the Bank of England, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, Institute of Biomedical Science, INEOS, Wiley and Warwick Manufacturing Group.

    The competition is open to early stage or early career researchers, which includes university research students, postgraduates, research assistants, postdocs, research fellows, newly-appointed lecturers, part-time and mature students, returners, those people embarking on a second career, and their equivalent in national, public sector and industrial laboratories, and appropriate final year undergraduate and MSc students, all of whom are engaged in scientific, engineering, technological or medical research.
  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

    We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation.

    We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For further information about the event please contact

Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 02077660655
E: Giorgio De Faveri