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Symposium for a Sustainable Human Future (04/2021)

Welcome to the Symposium for a Sustainable Human Future

When: Friday 23rd April 2021

Can technology end our reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels? How can we ensure a stable global economy for food production and supply? How will our ageing population affect society? What impacts, good or bad, will robots and AI have on our future lifestyles? The Symposium for a Sustainable Human Future brings together world-leading experts from different fields to present varied perspectives on these societal grand challenges, and to encourage cross-disciplinary discussion and collaboration.

The full-day symposium will be held on Friday 23rd April 2021, hosted by the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, and available to attend online. The symposium will consist of open panel discussions between the speakers, followed by Q&A sessions. There will also be an opportunity for students and early career researchers to present their work in the form of posters.

The Symposium for a Sustainable Human Future is organized by CISMA (Colloquia in Intelligent Sensing and Measurement), in collaboration with NPIF-EPSRC, CDT-ISM and the University of Edinburgh. CISMA is a student-led group aiming to spread awareness of interesting research in the broad fields of sensing and measurement, and to facilitate networking between PhD students, early career researchers, and senior academics.

Optical Sensing

Prof Robert Hadfield
Frontiers in photon counting: Infrared single photon detection with superconducting nanowires

The ability to detect light quanta (single photons) underpins a host of emerging scientific and technological applications. At infrared wavelengths, detectors based on superconducting materials offer significant performance advantages over conventional photon counters such as photomultipliers and semiconductor avalanche photodiodes. I will discuss state-of-the-art and new developments in superconducting photon-counting detectors based on superconducting nanowires and highlight the application areas including quantum communications.

Dr Adam Polak
Infrared spectroscopy as a tool for optical sensing

Optical sensing is an extremely powerful approach for detection and identification of various objects and substances of interest. One of the techniques enabling this process is optical spectroscopy. In this webinar, a very light introduction of this concept will be given and the importance of the mid-infrared region will be briefly outlined. To demonstrate its potency, several industrial applications of various spectroscopy embodiments developed in Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics will also be presented.

Michele Lacerenza
Compact time-domain near infrared spectroscopy (TD-NIRS) oximeter for non-invasive brain and muscle monitoring

The bulkiness and complexity of brain oximeters have strongly limited the spread of wearable, non-invasive, neuroimaging techniques such as time-domain near infrared spectroscopy (TD-NIRS). A new compact optical device has been developed to overcome these limitations, making TD-NIRS more accessible to non-experts and adaptable to any measurement condition, paving the way for muscle and brain oximetry in healthcare and sport environments.

Dr James Bain
Optical sensing technologies at M Squared

M Squared are a photonics technology company serving a broad range of scientific and industrial application sectors. The company is involved in many underpinning technologies, systems and application developments. They collaborate widely with several industrial and academic partners in the area of optical sensing. Key sectors include stand-off sensing, gas imaging, satellite calibration tools, distilled spirit analysis and advanced microscopy.

Sensing life in the Universe

Prof Charles Cockell
Sensing for Microbiology beyond Earth

Microbes will support a human future beyond Earth. however, to carry out experiments in space to study microbial responses to extreme space environments, we need to measure a variety of parameters. I will discuss our recent BioRock experiment at the International Space Station, our BioAsteroid experiment flying this November, our proposed lunar payload, and how these can inform ideas on sensing technologies required for future microbiology in space

Prof Sara Seager
Exoplanets: TESS and Beyond

Many exoplanets transit their host stars, travelling in front of their stars as seen from Earth. Transiting planets are “goldmines” for astronomers, because their sizes, masses and atmospheres can be routinely measured. The MIT-led NASA mission TESS is furthering the field of transiting exoplanets by finding thousands of planet candidates orbiting nearby stars. Transiting planet studies and other futuristic, pioneering, planet-finding techniques under development, will fuel the search for life on other worlds.

Yuchen Shang
Sensing in Astrobiology: Habitability in Microenvironments

In dynamic environments, such as freeze/thaw cycles of brines or salt water, conditions relating to habitability can change drastically in the micron scale. This is important in astrobiology, as microbes are organisms of interest at this scale. In order to understand these scales, and see habitability “through a microbe’s eyes”, novel sensing methods must be considered. This talk will discuss habitability in the solar system, how to sense it, and work on probing into sensing at micron-scale.

Prarthana Desai
Searching for life in the Universe – Is looking for water enough?

Humidity alone is not enough to indicate habitability of an extra-terrestrial environment. Water activity is more closely related to the microbial, chemical and physical properties of substrates than the total moisture content, thereby acting as a direct indicator for habitability. I will go through the journey of developing a novel water-activity device, adapter for dynamic changes in field-tests, discussing the challenges faced and lessons learnt throughout this journey.